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“Performing the Archives” Conference

Posted By Charlotte McIvor, National University of Ireland, Galway, Saturday, December 6, 2014


“Performing the Archives” Conference

National University of Ireland, Galway

22 – 24 July 2015

Co-sponsored by the National University of Ireland, Galway and  American Society for Theatre Research 


Professor Tracy C. Davis (Northwestern University)

Doug L. Reside (New York Public Library)

Professor Catherine Cole (University of California, Berkeley)

Dr. Hugh Denard (Trinity College, Dublin)

Professor Patrick Lonergan (National University of Ireland, Galway)

Professor Lionel Pilkington (National University of Ireland, Galway)

Dr. Emilie Pine (University College, Dublin)


In 2013, the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway launched the digitization of the Abbey Theatre archive, the largest theatre archive digitization project ever attempted. When this project is completed, more than 1.5 million items including scripts, costume designs, prompt books and performances will be available to study for generations of scholars to come.


Building on this momentum, “Performing the Archives” will gather together scholars, artists and archivists engaged in working with archival materials on research and performance projects to explore the uses and possibilities of the archive today from theoretical and methodological perspectives. We will debate:


·      What is the status of archival research methodologies in published research and graduate training today?

·      What are the possibilities of collaboration between researchers and practitioners working together to remount work based on the archives or research on new material? What working models exist and what have yet to be imagined?

·      How has the digital humanities begun to reshape the possibilities of archival engagement?

·      How can we support the labour of not only archival research methodologies but the maintenance of the archives themselves? How does the holding location of archives (university vs. community archive) affect the circulation of these resources?  How can partnerships be expanded or reimagined? 

·      How has the cataloguing of new/recent archives contributed to new learning and change?

·      'From Stage to Street' – Connection of archives, theatre and society: Documentary theatre and socially responsive theatre

·      Theatre, Peace and Conflict – How memory of theatre and conflict, especially that of Northern Ireland, is newly understood and experienced through the archives and contributing to resolution and reconciliation

·      The craft of the playwright: Drafting, editing and writing for stage or radio


This conference capitalizes on NUI Galway’s unparalleled strength in Irish theatre and literary archives, taking advantage of holdings including the Abbey Theatre, the Druid Theatre, Lyric Theatre Belfast, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, Thomas Kilroy, Siobhan McKenna and the Galway Arts Festival, among others, to facilitate a national and international conversation about the place of archives in not only theatre and performance research and teaching, but arts practice and perception of theatre history more broadly.


Coinciding with the Galway Arts Festival, the conference will immerse participants in the living performance culture of Galway as the Galway Arts Festival links together artists from around the world to mount Ireland’s largest international arts festival.


Participants will take part in intensive working group sessions as well as participate in keynote and plenary sessions with leading scholars, archivists and performers working at the intersection of practice and research.



Working Groups


As member of a working group, you will circulate 8-10 page papers or an equivalent length of in-progress creative materials in advance of the conference. Proposed research papers can address practical projects in the area of digitization, curation, or archives administration as well as presenting scholarly or theoretical case studies. You will then engage in hands-on workshop contact with archival materials at NUI Galway as well as intensive discussion with group members regarding your research or creative project.


You can apply to the following strands:


·      Archival Materials In/As Performance

·      Digitization: Methodology and Ethics

·      Early-Mid-Twentieth Century Irish Theatre

·      Irish Theatre After Beckett

·      Conflict, Memory and Trauma

·      Scenography and Theatre Technologies


Please submit a 500-word abstract for your proposed paper or creative project with brief bio by 15 March 2015



For more information, please contact Barry Houlihan (

or Charlotte McIvor (





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