Gate Theatre’s multimedia archive to be digitised by NUIG

Project includes hundreds of videos, scripts and programmes

Johnny Murphy as Estragon on the stage of the Gate Theatre  during rehearsals for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot in 2002. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Johnny Murphy as Estragon on the stage of the Gate Theatre during rehearsals for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot in 2002. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

NUI Galway and the Gate Theatre are to collaborate on a project to digitise the theatre’s archive, creating a significant resource for theatre scholars and artists.

When completed in 2018, the Gate Theatre Digital Archive will be exclusively available at NUI Galway’s James Hardiman Library, where users will be able to access hundreds of videos, scripts and show programmes from the Gate’s history.

Drawn mainly from the years since 1980, the archive includes information about many of the Gate’s major national and international successes during that period, featuring material relating to Orson Welles, Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Penelope Wilton, Stephen Rea, Ian Holm, Liam Neeson, Charles Dance and many others.

The range of multimedia content illustrates the theatre’s approach to acting, design, direction and production, as well as to the art of playwriting.

“The Gate Theatre is full of admiration for NUI Galway, and we congratulate them for having the vision and courage to provide this extraordinary resource for generations to come,” the Gate’s director, Michael Colgan, said at the official announcement of the project.

Comprehensive archive

The digitisation commenced in early February and will take 18 months to complete. The project encompasses 200,000 pages, 20,000 images, 150 hours of audio and 750 hours of video, representing a comprehensive archive of material produced at the Gate since 1983.

The archive will be available for use in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room at NUI Galway, which is already the home of several other Irish theatre archives, including the archives of Druid Theatre, the Lyric Players Theatre, Thomas Kilroy, John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy and Siobhán McKenna, as well as online access to the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive.

The NUIG resources make available almost 1,000 videos of Irish theatre productions since the 1980s and thousands of scripts, photographs and other files. Archival material from prior to that period is currently stored at Northwestern University, Illinois.

Patrick Lonergan, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUIG, said the project would have a transformative impact on Irish theatre research.

“The Gate is one of the major European theatres, and has played an enormous role in the development of our theatrical culture,” he said, “especially in the areas of design, direction and acting, but also in playwriting, as shown by its long association with Brian Friel. This archive will allow NUI Galway researchers and students to learn from these achievements and, we hope, to build on them into the future as well.”