Some information below about an upcoming conference on the status and use of performing arts archives at NUI, Galway:




“Performing the Archives” Conference

NUI Galway 2015

22 – 24 July 2015


In 2013, the Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway launched ‘A Digital Journey through Irish Theatre History’ – the digitization of the Abbey Theatre archive, the largest theatre archive digitization project ever attempted. When this project is completed, more than 1 million items including scripts, costume designs, prompt books and performances will be available to study for generations of scholars to come. Theatre scholarship is being transformed at NUI Galway.

This conference capitalizes on NUI Galway’s unparalleled strength in Irish theatre and literary archives, taking advantage of other holdings including 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.

By emphasizing a collaborative approach between the archive service of the James Hardiman Library, academic staff of the Drama and Theatre Department, School of English, NUI Galway, as well as fostering and creating engagement between NUI Galway students, scholars and theatre practitioners and with wider national and international research community, this event will showcase NUI Galway as a hub for research in theatre and drama as well as a world leader in innovative research technologies and digital humanities.

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. Through working with further campus-city relationships, such as the Druid Academy, Galway – its University and City, as well as the west of Ireland will be shown to be a cultural landmark as well as an innovator in leading collaboration.

The conference will primarily be based in the new Hardiman Research Building, providing a base to showcase the central research point on campus for the Humanities as well as linking into adjacent exhibition space, providing an access point for local and visiting scholars to experience why the Hardiman Building is a critical and crucial exponent for encountering research and fostering discovery on campus.

“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


For more information, contact Barry Houlihan (

or Charlotte McIvor (