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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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Working on this volume has been made possible by so many people. It has grown from a conference, ‘Performing the Archive’, held at NUI Galway in July 2015. This success of this conference came from working with and being inspired by my colleagues and conference co-organisers, Dr Charlotte McIvor, Dr Ian Walsh and Dr Ciara Conway. This volume simply would not exist without all their long and hard work on bringing the conference together and without their expert guidance and support through various ventures over the past few years. To have your support as colleagues and friends, I am hugely grateful.

In making this publication possible I received vital support from many people at NUI Galway. At the Hardiman Library, John Cox and Niall McSweeney enabled all time and supports to develop the volume. Likewise to all my colleagues across Archives and Special Collections, in particular, Aisling Keane and Kieran Hoare for contributing and chairing events at the conference; Patricia Walsh of the Conference Office, NUI Galway, whose professionalism, (calmness!) and rigour in organising large-scale events was a huge asset. Professor Patrick Lonergan and Professor Lionel Pilkington, in countless ways, are constant sources of support and inspiration. Both contributed greatly to the conference as keynote speakers. Lionel, as well as supervising my own PhD, also read and provided feedback and comments on my introduction and chapter in this book, which were of great help.

I am very grateful to those who have offered financial...

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