Prof. Patrick Lonergan



This research group draws together scholars working on different kinds of performance, in fields such as drama and theatre studies, film and digital media, creative writing, traditional arts, music, activism, cultural history and critical theory. Researchers work together to analyse and explore different kinds of performances in their social, cultural, economic and historical contexts. The aim of the group is to draw together and enhance a range of complementary research activities currently underway in the university, while also allowing new activities to emerge. Individual researchers will continue to work on projects that are discipline-specific, but the group will allow for the development of shared (or indeed contrasting) methodologies, theoretical perspectives, and pedagogical approaches.

The group gathers together scholars working on different kinds of performance, in English, Drama, Irish Studies, the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, and elsewhere within the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. The aim of gathering these researchers is to reveal correspondences between different disciplinary formations and by doing so to expose continuities between (for example) traditional arts and cutting-edge digital technology – while also pointing towards similarities between performances that are grounded in literature (performances of drama in theatres) and public performances such as parades, protest marches, wake games, storytelling and other cultural practices. The aim is to broaden our understanding of creativity and its relationship with audiences, societies, economies and institutions. The group also considers how performance practices refocus our understanding of the relationship between text and performance, and the relationship between visual culture and textual analysis.

Further aims of the cluster are to highlight important links between theory and practice and to foster archive-based research activity. The group includes scholars working on the university’s performance archives, including the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, the Druid Theatre archive, the archives of Taibhdhearc na nGailimhe, the Huston Family archive, and other related resources. It also features scholars engaged in performance-as-research activities, such as the staging of plays, the making of films, and the performance of traditional music and dance. It further includes scholars working in the digital humanities, who will conserve and preserve performances through the creation of digital archives – and who will also contribute to the creation of performances through the use of digital technology. Hence, one of the group’s key aims will be the creation of a space in which scholars will be able to share their different perspectives on shared objects of enquiry.

The group aims to anchor itself in, and to build upon, several currently active groups. Many of the scholars listed above are teaching on the new BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance, so the creation of this PRA will create important areas of overlap between teaching and research. It links strongly with the Abbey Theatre Digitization project, with the Creative Industries Work Package associated with the AHSSRB, and with several other activities. The aim is both to consolidate those activities and to find new areas of shared investigation and innovation.