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Villanova University Announces Historic Exchange Program with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland's National Theatre

Partnership will bring some of Ireland’s preeminent theatre practitioners to the University, while giving Villanova students the opportunity to study at the Abbey Theatre

Award-winning Abbey Theatre Director Patrick Mason to speak at Oct. 17 Inaugural Lecture at Villanova

VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova University has accepted a prestigious invitation from the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre, to form an historic intellectual/artistic partnership. The University’s exchange program with the Abbey Theatre will create a bridge between the renowned Irish institution and Villanova’s Theatre and Irish Studies programs. The collaboration will bring Ireland’s preeminent theatre practitioners to the University’s campus to offer graduate and undergraduate courses, as well as workshops, conferences, lectures and other events that will be open to the public. The new joint venture will also enable a scholarly exchange giving Villanova students the opportunity to travel to Dublin to intern and study at the Abbey Theatre.

Founded in 1904 by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, the Abbey Theatre occupies an important place in the Irish psyche, both at home and abroad. Committed to creating “world-class theatre that actively engages with and reflects Irish society,” the theatre, which works to preserve the works of classical Irish playwrights as well as foster emerging talent, remains one of the most enduring institutions in literary history.

The inaugural lecture for the Villanova-Abbey Theatre Exchange Program, featuring award-winning Abbey Theatre Director Patrick Mason will be held at 7 p.m., Oct. 17 in the Dougherty West Lounge of Dougherty Hall on the University’s Main Campus. In his lecture, titled, “Truth and Counter-truth: The Abbey and Ireland,” Mason will examine the new Irish Theatre from both the historical and contemporary angles, highlighting important aesthetic and ethical issues facing the institution. The event is free and open to the public.

“Villanova’s exchange program with the Abbey Theatre will introduce Irish culture to our students in unprecedented ways,” Joseph Lennon, Director of Villanova’s Irish Studies Program said. “Having Abbey Theatre directors, actors, and writers here on campus will create a new level of dialogue between artists, students, scholars and audiences, one that benefits everyone involved,” he added.

“We are delighted to be initiating this cultural exchange between the Abbey Theatre and Villanova University which will strengthen cultural, artistic and academic relationships between the two institutions. Villanova’s Irish Studies Program is the oldest in the U.S. and this is a fantastic opportunity to share our history and heritage,” Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, Director/CEO of the Abbey Theatre commented.

Collaboration with the Abbey Theatre is a natural extension of Villanova’s enduring Irish heritage. Founded by Irish Augustinians in 1842, the University is home to the nation’s oldest Irish Studies Program, an interdisciplinary exploration of the history and culture of the Irish people from the varying perspectives of literature, history, theatre, film, art, politics, music, folklore, and business.

Villanova’s award-winning theatre department is recognized as one of the most prominent and influential in the Philadelphia region with a subscriber base of over 700 patrons and more than 50 nominations for the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia’s prized Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. In addition, the University holds a long-standing commitment to performing and studying Irish plays and in hosting prominent Irish playwrights, writers and poets through the Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Chair of Irish Studies.

“The partnership with the Abbey Theatre is a fantastic opportunity for Villanova to strengthen its Irish heritage and a wonderful way for the Theatre Department to grow through artistic and intellectual exchange,” Father David Cregan, O.S.A. Villanova Theatre Director said.

The Villanova-Abbey-Exchange Program seeks to provide a home away from home for the Abbey Theatre, as the two institutions work to further their artistic and intellectual traditions, strengthening the University’s bond with Ireland, and the Abbey’s bond with America, according to Lennon.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others.  There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.