- One or more fully elaborated international research proposal(s) within the duration of the project.
During the writing workshop at Charles University, the core members will draft a research proposal for one of the forthcoming Horizon 2020 work programmes. Previous work programmes such as “CULT-COOP-09- 2017: European cultural heritage, access and analysis for a richer interpretation of the past” have underlined the need to “[i]mprove the understanding of the rich diversity of European cultural heritage and create added value for the society by providing humanities researchers, journalists, policy makers and the interested public with new ways of finding answers to their questions about European cultural heritage and history”. Theatre offers particularly diverse opportunities to addressing such issues, since it encompasses a broad spectrum of cultural engagement, from actors, writers, and designers to directors, translators, and audiences. Although the proposed network will focus on the Gate Theatre in comparison to similar European avant-garde theatres, its preliminary findings can be extrapolated to study other European dramatic legacies, which will facilitate inquiries into European cultural exchange and artistic practices for future collaborative research.
Through this Horizon 2020 application, then, the network will seek to increase societal awareness of the ways in which theatres can function as cosmopolitan institutions that foster the emancipation of marginalized groups and the creation of hybrid identities in different European contexts by focusing on the following research topics:
- the experiences of LGBT and women actors, writers, designers and directors;
- the revival and promotion of minority or regional languages;
- the history of regional theatres as well as theatres that explicitly address national concerns;
- theatres as world ambassadors for the performance of culture;
- theatres as promoters of transnational, cosmopolitan ideals of creativity, tolerance and freedom; and as institutions that both resist and collaborate with the forces of globalization;
- and theatres as cultural hubs that attract artists (actors, writers, designers, but also other migrants in supporting functions) from across the world to collaborate on projects that can have a great societal impact.
- A structurally embedded international research network
The research network that we create will have members based at an impressive list of institutions across the world, including all of those holding the major Gate Theatre-related archives (Northwestern University, NUI Galway, the Dublin City Archives, the University of Reading, and the Gate Theatre itself). Two of the researchers at the heart of the network (Dr Whelan and Dr Markus) are fluent in the Irish language and have published on Irish-language literature, and other core members and members of the advisory board have significant knowledge of Irish. This will ensure that we are well placed to address macLiammóir’s extensive engagement with the Irish language and issues around the revival and promotion of European minority languages. Key members of the network have also been heavily involved in theatre practice and/or have extensive ties to the Gate and other professional theatres (Dr Walsh, Dr Clare, Dr McTighe, Mr Lally); this means that the network will have access to theatre professionals who can help stage rehearsed readings and speak on their Gate-related experiences as part of public literary events. At the end of the project duration, the network will be running smoothly and will have expanded the numbers of researchers involved as well as its academic and societal impact. The increasing interest in Gate theatre and European cosmopolitan theatre research will ensure this broader membership and outreach.
- Research infrastructure
The proposed research network will create a bibliographical website that will facilitate archival research on the Gate in comparison to European avant-garde theatres. This website will include a complete playography of the productions staged at the theatre; biographies of the major theatre practitioners associated with the theatre; and information as to which Gate-related archive to consult when researching particular subjects. This website will not only be an invaluable resource for researchers studying the theatre, but will also be of great interest to members of the general public who are interested in the history of this important Irish cultural institution as well as European avant-garde theatre in general. This digital repository of ‘lost’ plays, playbills, costume and set designs, photographs, and documents/articles related to reception will highlight the richness of the Gate’s transnational engagement; it will also reveal how the emergent Irish State used theatre to demonstrate its modernity and engagement with wider European artistic and cultural influences. As such, this website might function as a template for examining how the performing arts can be studied as a influential mode of nation building in other emergent European states (e.g. in the Baltic and the Balkans). Furthermore, the website may be of interest to educational institutes as well as current theatre companies which seek to engage with the complexities of cultural change, hybridity and emancipation.
- One or more forms of other joint output, such as publications
In addition to producing an edited essay collection (e.g. Transnational Theatre Histories series, Palgrave Macmillan, series ed. Tracy Davis), and two special issues of a leading academic journal (e.g. Theatre International, Irish Studies Review or Contemporary Theatre Review), the network’s other outputs will be manifold and high profile. At the network’s conference and expert meetings, the public will have a chance to hear papers on Gate history and other European avant-garde theatres, delivered by leading scholars in the field. At these events, the network’s members will also produce rehearsed readings of important and/or neglected plays from the Gate repertoire; where copyright allows, these will be broadcast online for full public access.
- An exhibition
Finally, the network will create an exhibition on the history and importance of the Gate Theatre in a broader European theatre context that will initially be on display at NUI Galway, as part of Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture 2020, but which will subsequently tour to the other institutions involved in this project. Two institutions that will be affiliated with this network – NUI Galway and the University of Reading – have previously facilitated successful world tours with exhibitions on W.B. Yeats and Samuel Beckett, and the projected Gate exhibition is expected to gain significant attention from the public and the media, since it will be produced to coincide with the Gate’s 90th anniversary.