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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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A Shared Language: Placing and Displacing Shakespeare in the Irish National Theatrical Repertoire (Emer McHugh)


Emer McHugh

A Shared Language: Placing and Displacing Shakespeare in the Irish National Theatrical Repertoire

In 2014, President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, made a state visit to the United Kingdom, the first of the country’s heads of state to have done so. The itinerary of this state visit included a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon – the home-place of William Shakespeare – and on 11 April, Higgins was welcomed into the Royal Shakespeare Company theatres with his wife, Sabina Coyne Higgins. After a tour of the building by artistic director Gregory Doran; recitals of a series of works from W. B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, and G. B. Shaw (all Irishmen who had visited previously Stratford and had written of their experiences there); and a performance of the tavern scene by the cast of the then-playing 1 Henry IV, Higgins delivered a speech in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre auditorium. In this speech, he stated:

Today I want to acknowledge a great truth: the English language that we share, if it was once the enforced language of conquest, it is today the very language in which we have now come to delight in one another, to share our different and complementary understandings of what it means to be human together in this world, transacting in the currency of words.1←123 | 124→

Of course, in terms of Anglo-Irish relations, the Irish President addressing the history of the complex relationship between Ireland and England in an institution built to...

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