The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig

News from the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Sir Tyrone Guthrie

Tyrone Guthrie (1900-1971) was the leading theatre director in the English-speaking world in the mid-20th century. He was the only son of Dr Thomas Guthrie of Tunbridge Wells, England, and Norah Power of Annaghmakerrig who was grand-daughter of the 19c Irish actor Tyrone Power.  He married Martha Moorehead of Annaghmakerrig and enlarged the modest house and farmyard to the proportions we know today.

There is a statue of Tyrone Guthrie’s paternal great-grandfather Dr Thomas Guthrie in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was to this philanthropist and preacher that Tyrone Guthrie attributed his own ‘…rotund eloquence…and determination to face facts…together with a voice which, if not rich and ringing, is remarkably carrying…’  Tyrone Guthrie and his sister Susan (known as Peggy) spent their holidays at Annaghmakerrig; he later made it his home.  Peggy and her husband, the essayist Hubert Butler, and their daughter Julia (now Mrs Richard Crampton) suggested that he bequeath the house to the nation as a workplace for artists and writers since he and his wife Judith had no children. A number of artists’ colonies in the United States which the Butlers’ friend Pamela Travers (author of Mary Poppins) recommended were taken as models. Guthrie’s niece Julia Crampton remains a Member of the administrative Company of the Centre.

              Tyrone Guthrie obtained an undistinguished degree from Oxford University where he had excelled in the Dramatic Society, after which , with no particular profession in view, he joined the Oxford Repertory Theatre as an apprentice. At the age of 22 he was appointed by the British Broadcasting Corporation as its earliest radio producer in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  He moved to the Scottish National Theatre as its first producer, achieving prominence in the late 1920s as producer with the Cambridge Repertory Theatre where his influential relationship with the European classical drama began. At the Old Vic Theatre, London, he was central to the establishment of the company that from 1933 – with actors Peggy Ashcroft, Edith Evans, Sybil Thorndike, John Gielgud, Alec Guinness, Laurence Olivier and others – became the prototype British National Theatre.  In stage production he removed the reverential approach to Shakespeare.  He became a master of the spectacular manipulation of large crowds, a talent which stood him well when directing for the Sadlers Wells, Covent Garden and Metropolitan Operas. When presenting Hamlet at Kronberg Castle, Denmark, he devised a method of performance ‘in the round’; enlarging on this idea at the 1951 Edinburgh Festival with a medieval pageant play he subsequently devised an indoor stage with the designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch where the actors were surrounded on three sides by the audience, giving a sense of intimacy in a vast space. This concept was carried out successfully at the Festival Theatre in Stratford, Canada, in 1953, and ultimately in 1963 at the theatre which bears his name in Minneapolis, U.S.A.

 He was honoured with doctorates from ten universities and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1961. Following his death the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig was established with annual funding from An Chomhaire Ealíonn/The Arts Council in Dublin and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland in Belfast, a sharing of resources that would have pleased him greatly.



Co. Monaghan

phone: 00 353 47 54003