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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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‘I Remember’; ‘I Forget’; ‘I Can’t Forget’: Oral History, the Archive and Remembering Corcadorca’s The Merchant of Venice (Anne Etienne)

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Anne Etienne

‘I Remember’; ‘I Forget’; ‘I Can’t Forget’: Oral History, the Archive and Remembering Corcadorca’s The Merchant of Venice

Corcadorca Theatre Company has become a household name in Cork since its foundation in 1991. The company’s work received international acclaim when they toured their original production of Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs from 1997 to 1999, and national nods over the years, most recently when they won four of the 2017 Irish Times Theatre Awards1. However, their audience and reach have remained mostly local, attracting ample audience enthusiasm but limited critical attention. A number of reasons will explain why an innovative theatre company has retained such relative anonymity, one of which being artistic director’s Pat Kiernan’s intent on creating theatrical events for local audiences in unusual local buildings and his consequential neglect of touring.

In 2005, Cork won the designation as European Capital of Culture and Corcadorca co-ordinated ‘Relocation’, a series of four free off-site productions by European companies. Within that framework they produced a promenade site-responsive run of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice that captured the city’s and the nation’s attention. Ten years later, Corcadorca and I organised an experimental project – ‘Creation and reception:←181 | 182→ Remembering Corcadorca’s Merchant of Venice 2005’ (MOV)2 – around this age-defining production. Querying reception was an experiment insofar as it tested whether the audience would actually remember the performance after ten years,3 and so whether the idea of an oral history archive of the company was...

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