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Navigating Ireland's Theatre Archive

Theory, Practice, Performance

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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 Archive Digitisation Project at NUI Galway: Delivering Mass Digitisation of a Multimedia Archive with Positive Academic and Library Impact (Martin Bradley / John Cox)

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Martin Bradley and John Cox

The Abbey Theatre Archive Digitisation Project at NUI Galway: Delivering Mass Digitisation of a Multimedia Archive with Positive Academic and Library Impact

National University of Ireland, Galway, (NUIG) entered into an agreement in 2012 with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre, to digitise its entire archive comprising all documentation created 1904–2007 within a three-year timeframe. This work was commenced in August 2012 and completed by July 2015 by which point 737,358 unique pages of information had been digitised, along with 3,068 audio recordings and 324 video recordings, and made available for consultation through a bespoke Digital Asset Management system (DAM) in NUI Galway Archives’ reading room at the James Hardiman Library.1 The Abbey Theatre Digital Archive at NUI Galway is the largest digital theatre archive in the World comprising the following content:

• Programmes – 66,628 pages

• Prompt Scripts – 126,740 pages

• Set Designs –1,977 pages

• Scripts – 135,131 pages

• Lighting Designs – 334 items

• Audio – 3068 recordings

• Video – 324 recordings

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