Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway team up on theatre’s digital archive

22 Oct 2012

The Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Some 1.8m items belonging to the Abbey Theatre archive are headed for A Digital Journey Through Irish Theatre History, a digital multimedia archive partnership between the Dublin theatre and NUI Galway, to help scholars and historians document the Abbey’s history in greater detail.

That history includes material that provides a glimpse into Irish theatre, history, culture and society via show posters, programmes, photographs, minute books to lighting plans, set and costume designs, sound cues, prompt scripts and audio files.

Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins attended the launch of the partnership at the Abbey Theatre today, and its director, Fiach MacConghail, said the digital archive will inspire the next generation of theatre makers.

“The Abbey archive is a major resource for Irish theatre and will help us celebrate the unheralded artists, actors, writers who have worked at the Abbey over the years,” MacConghail said.

The digitisation process, which began last month on the NUI Galway campus, will take place over three to four years and involve multidisciplinary teams of the university’s researchers, students and archivists.

“As East meets West, and the creative arts and scholarship combine, this project will see the most advanced digital technology brought to bear on one of the country’s most historic theatre archives,” said Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway.

“This digitisation project is based on an awareness of the importance of the Abbey Theatre for the social, cultural and economic history of this country – not to mention its ongoing significance for Ireland and the international community as one of the key national theatres in the world.”

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic