Orson Welles On His First Night At The Gate



“This is the Gate Theatre in Dublin. First night audiences are always an experience. In this theatre I faced the very first, first night audience of all in Dublin – that grand capital of eloquence and violent opinion where audiences enjoy and they delight in the privilege of free speech. And you can sometimes hear as much dialogue from the gallery, as from the stage itself. But first nights often end in a literal riots and actors have been known to seek police protection from the public they’re trying to entertain. Well here I am in Dublin on that very first of all my first nights. If you don’t recognise me that’s just as it should be. I’m heavily made up for the role of the profligate and depraved archduke Jew Suss. And as you can see from the drawing (above)  there’s almost no sign of anything at all resembling first-night nerves. Now there’s a reason for this lofty calm. It’s the bliss of ignorance.”

Orson Welles was 16 when he came to Dublin and made his stage debut in The Gate Theatre in 1931, appearing in Jew Suss.

From Orson Welles’ Sketchbook (1955), 15-minute monologues made for the BBC.

Baz writes:

Here’s a video of Orson Welles talking about getting schooled by the Dublin theatre crowd, skip to 4:21 if you’re impatient. Part 2 here.



Sketch by Orson Welles