The Gate Theatre, in Dublin, was founded in 1928 by Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir, initially using the Abbey Theatre's Peacock studio theatre space to stage important works by European and American dramatists. The theatre later moved to 1 Cavendish Row (part of the Rotunda Hospital complex) where leading Irish architect Michael Scott undertook the revisions necessary to the room to convert it into a theatre. Today the Theatre has a capacity of 371 people. The theatre's current artistic director is Michael Colgan.
Edwards/McLiammoir Productions presented European plays in sharp contrast to the country kitchen fare available at the Abbey Theatre bringing the Irish Premieres of Ibsen and other such dramatists to the Irish public. This mission statement is still in effect today.
Orson Welles, James Mason and Michael Gambon started their acting careers at The Gate. In December 1983 the directorship of the Gate was handed to Michael Colgan. The Gate Theatre is the only theatre in the world to have existed with only two artistic directors.
The Gate also featured three separate festivals of the works of Harold Pinter, the first theatre in Europe to do such retrospectives.
In 2007, the first major musical to be produced by the Gate was Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, with David Shannon playing the title role. According to The Sunday Times review, "The black backdrop of David Farley's rough hewn set and the stark minimalism of Rick Fisher's lighting suggest a self-conscious edginess, with Shannon's stylised make-up, long leather coat and brooding countenance only adding to the feeling...[director Selina] Cartmell and Cathal Synnott, the musical director, use the comparatively intimate scale of the Gate well. The seven musicians lack firepower for huge orchestral crescendos, but tease out the score's claustrophobic elements...The Gate's interpretation of Sondheim's masterpiece is exciting and thoughtful, tragic and witty, entertaining yet provoking: a family musical, but not as we know it."