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Navigating Ireland's Theatre Archive

Theory, Practice, Performance


Edited By Barry Houlihan

The historiography of Irish theatre has largely been dependent on in-depth studies of the play-text as the definitive primary source. This volume explores the processes of engaging with the documented and undocumented record of Irish theatre and broadens the concept of evidential study of performance through the use of increasingly diverse sources. The archive is regarded here as a broad repository of evidence including annotated scripts, photographs, correspondence, administrative documents, recordings and other remnants of the mechanics of producing theatre. It is an invaluable resource for scholars and artists in interrogating Ireland’s performance history.

This collection brings together key thinkers, scholars and practitioners who engage with the archive of Irish theatre and performance in terms of its creation, management and scholarly as well as artistic interpretation. New technological advances and mass digitization allow for new interventions in this field. The essays gathered here present new critical thought and detailed case studies from archivists, theatre scholars, historians and artists, each working in different ways to uncover and reconstruct the past practice of Irish performance through new means.

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The Abbey Theatre Minute Book Transcription Project: Digitally Reading the Administrative Record of Irish Theatre (Cillian Joy / Tricia O’Beirne)


Cillian Joy and Tricia O’Beirne

The Abbey Theatre Minute Book Transcription Project: Digitally Reading the Administrative Record of Irish Theatre

The Abbey Theatre Minute Books contain manuscript notes from meetings of the Abbey Theatre’s Board of Directors from 1904 to 1939. They are a sub-set of the wider Abbey Theatre Digital Archive which is available at NUI Galway. The minute books within this project offer a glimpse behind the scenes of the national theatre from its initiation in 1904, showing how the Abbey’s managers dealt with a variety of administrative, financial, artistic or personnel issues, from choosing plays to determining how much to pay their actors. The minute books, now digitally published from NUI Galway for the first time, provide scholars with critical material for teaching and research as well as offering the public an engagement with the founding of their national theatre.

These minute books have never been made available publicly en masse but are now openly published online as part of the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway Digital Archive Partnership. The work to publish the Abbey Theatre Minute Books was carried out between NUI Galway Library, the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance and the Abbey Theatre. The main aim of the Abbey Theatre Minute Book project was to extract and freely publish large sections of mainly manuscript minutes from Abbey Theatre board meetings from 1904 to 1939. These dates were selected as this time-period coincided with the Nobel Prize-winning poet...

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