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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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Identity, Legacy and the Official: Power Relations of the Documented and Undocumented in the Red Kettle Theatre Company Archive (Kieran Cronin / Elizabeth Howard)

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Kieran Cronin and Elizabeth Howard

Identity, Legacy and the Official: Power Relations of the Documented and Undocumented in the Red Kettle Theatre Company Archive

Red Kettle was a mainstream regional Irish theatre company that operated in Waterford between 1985 and 2014. During that time Red Kettle collaborated with its local city of Waterford in a number of different ways, from the buildings and spaces it occupied and the stories it told, to the personnel it employed and the variety of local audiences it came in contact with. The company’s activity became a unique part of the cultural fabric of Waterford and, although the company has now dissolved, it continues to collaborate with Waterford through its archive.

Donated to the city and county of Waterford, the archive is currently housed in the Luke Wadding Library at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). Here it functions as a tool for the continuing transfer of information about Red Kettle’s activities and the socio-cultural and socio-political contexts in which it operated. Both the theatre company and the Institute act as frames to the action and life of the Waterford community, contributing to the formation and reformation of local cultural identity. Therefore, the company’s archive is now used as a research tool and an educational resource for WIT, linking Red Kettle’s activity to the educational practices of the city.

In order to position the archive, this essay is split into three sections. Firstly, the context and history of...

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