Nostalgia: A look back at Cork's historic Everyman Theatre

Nostalgia: A look back at Cork's historic Everyman Theatre

Old black and white shot of The Everyman Theatre.

GOOD news for Cork theatre lovers came this week as The Everyman announced its reopening date and a live programme of events which includes a mix of rehearsed readings, comedy and music.

The reopening heralds a new digital direction for the theatre with Play It By Ear, a programme of shows at The Everyman, which are also available live through audio broadcast to be experienced from wherever audiences are.

Naomi Daly, Acting Programming Manager at the theatre said The Everyman is looking forward to welcoming patrons back.

Famous Everyman Palace Theatre curtain.
Famous Everyman Palace Theatre curtain.

"It feels great to be turning the lights back on and throwing open the doors after our longest period of closure in over 30 years," she said.

The theatre has been a cultural landmark in Cork for more than 120 years.

It opened, under the name 'Cork Palace of Varieties', in 1897 as a sister theatre to the Empire Palace in Dublin, which later became the Olympia.

On the opening night the first Chairman, John O’Connell, said it was "without question the prettiest, most commodious and best equipped place of entertainment in Ireland".  

Variety programmes were initially the most popular entertainment of the day.

Everyman Palace Theatre programme 1911 found under the floorboards of a house in the city.
Everyman Palace Theatre programme 1911 found under the floorboards of a house in the city.

Soon, variety acts were followed by pantomime, opera and drama, with touring repertory companies visiting weekly from the UK and further afield.

Due to turbulent events at home and abroad, the 1920s represented a period of decline for the Cork Palace of Varieties.

However, with the advent of the 'talkies', it was transformed into a cinema in the 1930s.

The Palace would remain as a cinema for almost 50 years, until its closure in June 1988.

Workmen at work outside The Everyman in 1997. Picture: Mark Kelleher
Workmen at work outside The Everyman in 1997. Picture: Mark Kelleher

Trains, Planes and Automobiles was the final film to be shown there. 

Two years later, the beautiful listed building became a working theatre again when Everyman Theatre Company relaunched it as the Everyman Palace Theatre. 

Prior to this, the theatre company had been presenting plays at a variety of venues around the city since 1962.

In 2012, The Everyman Palace Theatre rebranded and became known simply as The Everyman. 

Young members of the cast from the pantomime Mother Goose at the Everyman Palace Theatre, Cork, 1998. Picture: Eddie O'Hare 
Young members of the cast from the pantomime Mother Goose at the Everyman Palace Theatre, Cork, 1998. Picture: Eddie O'Hare 

This year has presented an exceptionally tough time for The Everyman as the live entertainment and events sector has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the theatre has always been well supported by the people of Cork, as Executive Director of the theatre, Sean Kelly, highlights. 

"The Everyman has an obligation to serve the people of Cork and provide support and connections to artists.

"We are incredibly thankful for the generous donations received from our patrons.

"These monies, along with Arts Council Funding, will allow us to be viable until the end of the year," he said.

Barney being mobbed by enthusiastic youngsters at the Barney and Teletubbies show in the Everyman Palace theatre, 1998. Picture: Richard Mills. 
Barney being mobbed by enthusiastic youngsters at the Barney and Teletubbies show in the Everyman Palace theatre, 1998. Picture: Richard Mills. 

Undoubtedly, theatre lovers will be delighted to visit The Everyman when it reopens on October 15 and visitors will notice an improved and more comfortable look as the closure period was used to finish some very timely upgrades to the building, accomplished through historic grants from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Cork City Council. 

Due to current indoor gathering restrictions, the theatre’s 650-seat auditorium will be operating at a greatly reduced capacity and available tickets are expected to sell out quickly.

Tickets for the upcoming shows are now on sale via everymancork.com

More in this section

Sponsored Content