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8th June, 2016

Reading the Digital Theatre Archive: New Approaches to The Abbey Theatre, 1904-2014

Event Details

8th June, 2016
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Eton Avenue, London, NW3 3HY

In 2012, National University of Ireland, Galway began digitizing the archive of the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s national theatre. The project involves the creation of a multimedia database featuring over 1.5 million items, including scripts, photographs, videos, costume designs, promptbooks, administrative files, and much more. Material dates from the 1890s to the present, and includes original material about almost all of Ireland’s major writers, actors, directors and other theatre-makers.

This paper sets out to show how the use of digital technologies can allow us to form revised understandings of how theatres function over long periods of time. Focusing on the role of women at the Abbey Theatre since its foundation in 1904, Professor Lonergan will show how he and his colleagues have been able to identify patterns in theatre history.

“It will come as no surprise that, like most national theatres, the Abbey has a poor track record in producing plays by women – yet that treatment also has an impact on many aspects of the theatre’s business, from the placement of ads in show programmes, to the design of the building, to payments for actresses and designers, and much more. By mapping these patterns over time – and considering them in social and international contexts – we can find new ways of thinking about how theatre both shapes and is shaped by social developments.”

Patrick Lonergan is Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway.

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