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LAPITH Report Summary

Project ID: 618909
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Ireland

Final Report Summary - LAPITH (Locating and Performing Irish Theatre Histories)

“Locating and Performing Irish Theatre History” ( investigated the architectural and social history of three Dublin theatres, namely: the Abbey Theatre (1904-1951), the Queen’s Theatre (1951-1969) and The Theatre Royal (1935-1962).

The aims of the project were to intervene in Irish theatre history in three ways. Critically, by challenging the hegemony of the Abbey Theatre in accounts of early 20th-century Irish theatre history. Historiographically, by foregrounding theatre architecture. Methodologically, by innovatively combining archival research, digital architectural modelling, film-making and oral history. The project also aimed to test and develop The London Charter for the Computer-based Visualisation of Cultural Heritage.

The project has enjoyed substantial successes, some frustrations, and unanticipated opportunities. It has made significant new archival discoveries including: a previously unpublished photographic collection of the old Abbey Theatre; original architectural blueprints for the Theatre Royal; and previously unknown architectural plans for the Queen’s Theatre. The project also located, and three-dimensionally captured, Laurence Campbell’s sculptures for the Theatre Royal.

LAPITH has created detailed three-dimensional digital models of all three theatres. Working with Irish SME, Noho, the project is bringing these models into real-time environments for viewing either on computer screens or through immersive 3D headsets. Noho has developed tools to allow changes of lighting and scenography and integration of virtual audiences and performers.

The digitally-enabled study of theatre architecture, novel in Irish theatre-historical research, hopes to further diversify the research preoccupations of scholars working on early 20th-centure Irish theatre history. By providing new methodological approaches and resources, it challenges historians to study relationships between material and social – as well as the more common ideological and literary – histories. The interest of both subject specialists and wider academic audiences in the new methods and research agendas has been reflected in various invitations to give keynote and plenary papers.

However, securing sufficient sources for the 3d modelling activity proved unexpectedly time-consuming and significantly delayed the project. This delayed the publication of results by several months. It was also planned that the 3d models would be used in oral history interviews with past audiences to help stimulate a richer range of memories of theatre-going than would be the case using merely static images. Owing to the delays, and notwithstanding that the PI has since left the host institution, the project will now carry out this oral history activity after, rather than during, the funded period.

The project has also had notable successes. It embedded the theory and practice of virtual heritage into M-level programmes at the host institution; enabled a research collaboration with Dr Luiz Fernando Ramos, University of Saõ Paolo; and enabled the PI to play a central role in creating the Virtual Heritage Network: Ireland ( which promotes collaboration and understanding in this area across academic, industry and policy sectors through activities including an annual, published conference.

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