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Irish Theatre Environments


Lisa FitzGerald

What role does nature play in the cultural world of the theatre? Is the auditorium not a natural environment, and how can theatre and nature aesthetics co-exist in the productive expression of performance? Re-Place: Irish Theatre Environments proposes a new way of thinking about Irish theatre: one that challenges established boundaries between nature and culture and argues for theatre performances to be seen as conceptual ecological environments. Broadening the scope of theatre environments to encompass radiophonic and digital spaces, Re-Place is a timely interrogation of how we understand performance history. This book examines the work, both as text and in production, of three canonical Irish playwrights, J. M. Synge, Samuel Beckett and Brian Friel, and looks at how theatre documentation can further the idea of a natural performance environment. The questions under consideration extend Irish theatre history into the field of the environmental humanities and draw on new materialist discourse to offer exciting and innovative ways to approach performance.

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Chapter 5: Digital Environments and Performance Documentation


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Digital Environments and Performance Documentation

Irish theatre environments capture the historical, topographical and cultural narratives that have then infused performance spaces. But what happens after the performance? The previous chapters of this book have focused on theatrical and radio productions. Here, I intend to broaden the scope to include the documentation that remains after a performance. Why? Because this is an exploration of the material totality of a theatrical performance: an assemblage1 or knot2 of bodies, writings, audiences, spaces, and stages. I want to explore how these organic entanglements co-opt digital environments as ongoing channels for theatrical performances. New materialist discourse advocates an inclusivity that means what remains is as important as the defining event itself. This is a mode of thinking materially that is circular, fleshy and includes the chaff as much as the substance for which theatre has been traditionally defined. This chapter seeks to examine how digital documentation fits into our understanding of storied matter. As our surroundings become more unstable – fracturing and rupturing under increasing environmental pressures – I explore the emergence of digitized environments. Will aesthetic representations of nature have a new relationship with the viewer when accessed through digital media? Does a digital archive offer innovative ways to interact with ← 145 | 146 → theatre performance? What is the relationship between live and recorded performance? Performance documentation is now being transferred to, or indeed is emerging from, digital environments. In this chapter I hope to stimulate debate...

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