The Launch

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on April 17, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

On Friday 15 April 2011, 7pm, the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr John Hegarty, launched the new digital reconstruction of the old Abbey Theatre, at a well-attended reception in the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin.

Trinity's Provost, Dr John Hegarty, speaks at the project launch

Trinity's Provost, Dr John Hegarty, speaks at the project launch

The reception was followed by S H I F T, a performance, before a capacity audience of around 180, by contemporary Irish video and sound artists, actors, and musicians all creating a live, improvisatory response to both the new digital model and the Playboy of the Western World riots of 1907.

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Launch at the Samuel Beckett Centre

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Launch at the Samuel Beckett Centre

Helping to swell numbers, an article by Marie Boran publicizing the project and its launch, “Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D”, had that morning appeared in the Irish Times Business supplement, and a 7-minute radio feature by Luke Clancy had also been broadcast on RTÉ Lyric FM’s Culture File earlier in the evening (listen; 3.28MB mp3 file). Brendan McCarthy’s stylish poster, with its distinctive “blueprint” design, had also appeared around the Trinity campus and at the National Library of Ireland.

Wireframe model of the old Abbey Theatre projected onto an external wall.

Wireframe model of the old Abbey Theatre projected onto an external wall.

New awnings had been erected for the occasion in the courtyard outside the Samuel Beckett Theatre, and a video by Niall Ó hOisín showing evocative images and animations of the project’s gradual evolution from archival documents to fully-rendered model, was projected onto an outdoor wall, becoming clearer as the evening progressed.

Along with wine and delicious finger food by Jaipur caterers, guests received a commemorative project postcard (below), as well as a colour programme for S H I F T, both designed by Noho’s Dara Smith (download S H I F T programme PDF, 6.95 MB).

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Commemorative Postcard

Abbey Theatre, 1904 Project Commemorative Postcard

Professor Steve Wilmer, Head of the School of Drama, Film and Music, welcomed guests to the reception, reminded them of the theatre production to follow, at 8pm, and the International Symposium on Irish Theatre history and historiography at the Samuel Beckett Centre over the following weekend, before introducing the Provost.

Prof. Steve Wilmer, Head of the School of Drama, Film and Music, introduces the Provost

Prof. Steve Wilmer, Head of the School of Drama, Film and Music, speaking at the launch.

Provost Hegarty spoke about how the Abbey Theatre, 1904 project and S H I F T both reflect the aspirations of Trinity’s Creative Arts, Technologies and Culture initiative: to encourage creativity and build relationships across disciplines, and between the College and cultural institutions such as the National Library of Ireland and the Abbey Theatre, as well as to contribute to the health of the local economy, as exemplified by the project’s partnership with Noho.

The Provost speaking at the project launch.

The Provost speaking at the project launch.

Hugh Denard spoke about how the many acts of generosity by people and organisations, very many of whom were also present at the event, had made the both the Abbey Theatre, 1904 project and S H I F T possible. He hoped that the digital reconstruction might inspire renewed efforts physically to reconstruct the old Abbey’s Vestibule, being particularly moved to see three generations of Daithi P. Hanly‘s family present at the launch. Lastly, he noted that the coming summer months will see further exciting developments, carried out through three new internships at Trinity and Noho, which will begin digitally to populate the old Abbey Theatre with performers and spectators.

Dr Hugh Denard, project director, speaks at the reception.

Dr Hugh Denard, project director, speaks at the reception.

The success of the launch and of S H I F T was the result of generous sponsorship by Trinity’s Long Room Hub, The Trinity Association and Trust, Trinity’s Creative Arts, Technologies and Culture Initiative, and The Trinity Foundation, as well as the unstinting support of Trinity’s School of Drama, Film and Music, the Samuel Beckett Theatre, the National Library of Ireland and the Abbey Theatre, the Chair of whose Board, Mr. Justice Bryan McMahon was also present at the launch.

 


In the press…

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on April 15, 2011 @ 9:14 am

An article on the project appears in the Technology pages of today’s Irish Times:

Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D” by Marie Boran, Irish Times, 15th April 2011.

Together with Breffni’s post to noho’s blog yesterday, these are the first public images of the newly completed model!

Here are the articles:

Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D. Irish Times 15 April 2011

Abbey travels back in time: O’Casey era evoked in 3D. Irish Times 15 April 2011

Old Abbey Theatre gets a new life, Noho Blog, 14 April 2011

Old Abbey Theatre gets a new life, Noho Blog, 14 April 2011


Preparing for the Project Launch

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on April 12, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

The project launch, at the Samuel Beckett Theatre on Friday 15th April 2011, at 7pm, ought to be a good event. The VIP invitations are being RSVP’d with some enthusiasm, and I’m delighted to see so many of the people who have so generously and imaginatively contributed their knowledge, skills or time to the project signing up.

Poster for the project launch and S H I F T production at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, TCD, from 7pm on 15th April 2011

The poster, by Brendan McCarthy, looks pretty snazzy: it takes a wireframe image of the model, and gives it the colour-scheme of an architectural blueprint. The fonts give it an additional modern/digital feel.

There’ll be wine and nibbles at the reception on 15th, a few words by the Provost, Dr John Hegarty, and then some more from me, before the performance, S H I F T, takes place at 8pm.

I haven’t blogged much about S H I F T here, in order to keep the focus of this site on the reconstruction of the theatre, but it’s shaping up to be a really exciting event, involving live music, performance, and video art with highly imaginative sound and lighting and set design. Director, Dan Bergin, has done fantastic work devising and scripting the performance, so that, like the Playboy riots of 1907, it combines both scripted and improvised elements, for performers and spectators alike.

A certain amount of media attention, too: Niall from NOHO and I did an interview with Lyric FM yesterday morning, and we’re hoping to have a feature in this Friday’s Technology pages in the Irish Times. Caoimhe Ní Lochlainn and Sharon Campbell in Trinity’s Communications Office have been brilliant, getting the word out to the press, and onto Trinity’s website and mailing lists.

Catering’s booked. Just some last minute “details” now remaining about technical aspects of the launch, oh yes, and programme notes to write. I look forward to seeing whoever is able to make it on Friday!


@work@noho

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on March 24, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

Hugh and Niall puzzling over the layout of benches in the ‘Pit’ and details of the stairway from the Stalls to the Vestibule.

Hugh and Niall at work in Noho's offices

Hugh and Niall at work in Noho's offices

 


It’s a riot…

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on March 22, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

For the past couple of weeks, my time has increasingly been taken up with work  for the launch event and our project-related performance, S H I F T, on 15th April, as well as giving papers and presentations.

There has been a definite increase in the tempo of this side of things since TCD Provost John Hegarty threw his support behind the project, involving not only his own office, but also the Alumni Office, Web Office, the School of Drama, Film and Music, the Trinity Foundation and the Abbey Theatre itself. Tickets for the production are now available online and by phone, and invitations will shortly be sent out to Alumni.

In other news, I had a great conversation this afternoon with Colin Murphy, a freelance journalist, blogger extraordinaire, and presenter of the six-part RTE radio series “From Stage to Street” which included a treatment of the 1907 “Playboy” riots, which is also the subject of our own production, S H I F T. Colin is a great fount of knowledge and creativity, and we hope to be able to work together to create a documentary of the project, from research to performance.

Other happy news includes an article in the New York Times, today, which features the virtual Globe Theatre, in Second Life, which King’s Visualisation Lab created as part of our Theatron 3 project. The article, by Patricia Cohen, shows students in the States using our Globe as a means of exploring aspects of Shakespearean drama.  Unfortunately they got the link to Theatron wrong, but still…

Some exciting new discoveries at the National Library… to follow!


Launch Event & S H I F T

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on February 24, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

The Provost, Dr John Hegarty, will launch the digital reconstruction of the old Abbey Theatre at a Reception in the Foyer of the Samuel Beckett Theatre, on

Friday 15th April 2011, at 7 p.m.

The reception will be followed, at 8pm, by a live, mixed-media production

S H I F T

in the Samuel Beckett Theatre, in which contemporary Irish sound and video artists, actors and musicians, will create a live, improvisatory response to the 1907 Playboy of the Western World riots, augmented by the digital model of the old Abbey Theatre.

Tickets for S H I F T, which cost €12/€6 (concessions), will soon be available from http://www.tcd.ie/drama/

These two events follow the Annual Samuel Beckett Lecture, by Professor Jean-Michel Rabaté (Pennsylvania) on “Beckett and Bathos”, in the Samuel Beckett Theatre at 5.30pm (admission free), and will also mark the opening of

An International Symposium, “The Rest is History: Ireland, Performance and The Historical Imagination”, in the Samuel Beckett Centre on

Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April.

S H I F T is supported by the Trinity Association and Trust, the Samuel Beckett Centre, and the Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin.

See event listing on the School of Drama, Film and Music website website.


Meeting Provost John Hegarty

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on February 18, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

This morning, I had the privilege of presenting the Abbey Theatre, 1904 and S H I F T projects to the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr John Hegarty.

On entering the Provost’s House (a gorgeous Palladian building, technically at the bottom of Grafton Street, but really feels like College Green), I was introduced to the Provost and Dr Catriona Curtis, Assistant to the Provost, by Dr Jennifer Edmond, Executive Director of the Long Room Hub; the Hub is sponsoring my research through a Visiting Research Fellowship.

I gave a brief, illustrated presentation, situating the Abbey Theatre, 1904 in the context of previous visualisation, methodology and creative projects I’ve been involved in over the years, most recently the Roman Villa at Boscoreale, for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Body and Mask in Ancient Theatre Space funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and The London Charter. S H I F T, as a creative enterprise that takes humanities research as its point of departure, is conceptually related to Vanishing Point(s), an installation for the Great Hall at King’s College London which I worked on with artist, Michael Takeo Magruder, and (although I didn’t mention it this morning) Dionysos, a devised performance I directed, with Alex Linse and the late Carl Mueller, at the Warwick Arts Centre in 2000.

We then went on to discuss one of the Provost’s flagship initiatives, Creative Arts Technologies and Culture, which is forging powerful links across disciplines within Trinity, and between Trinity and wider Irish society, particularly the areas of Dublin on the College’s doorstep. This is such a visionary “movement”, determinedly criss-crossing boundaries that are usually all-but impermeable due to social entropy, in order to generate new kinds of cultural and intellectual energy. With such ideas circulating, it’s not surprising that people from such diverse disciplinary contexts in Trinity have been so strikingly receptive to and supportive of the kind of work I’ve been attempting.

A real pleasure to meet the man behind the plan, as well as the infectiously enthusiastic Catriona. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend the morning, really.


Twittering

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on January 25, 2011 @ 11:58 am

Encouraged by Trinity College researcher, Lisa Coen, I’ve taken the plunge and enrolled the project in the “Twitterverse”: http://twitter.com/#!/OldAbbeyDigital


Getting started…

Filed under:Project — posted by Hugh Denard on January 10, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

In 1904, Annie Horniman acquired the Hibernian Theater of Varieties (commonly known as the Mechanics’ Theatre) on Lower Abbey Street, Dublin for the use of the Irish National Theatre Society.

Joseph Holloway, staunch supporter of the Irish National Theatre Society and architect, was engaged to renovate the interior of the theatre, which opened on 27th December 1904 with performances of On Baile’s Strand by W. B. Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan by Yeats and Lady Gregory, and Lady Gregory’s Spreading the News. The “old” Abbey Theatre remained in use until damaged by fire in 1951.

The task of digitally visualising the Abbey Theatre as designed by Joseph Holloway poses many challenges. Holloway’s architectural plans and drawings fortunately survive in the National Library of Ireland, and we have several black-and-white photographs of the early Abbey. However, it is more difficult to obtain detailed information about textiles, colour-schemes, and fixtures and fittings originally employed, as well as the less photogenic but functionally important backstage areas.

Because there will inevitably be gaps and contradictions in the historical information available to us, it becomes crucial to open the doors to the interpretative process so that the decisions we are making can be freely observed. By documenting the research process, and publishing wherever possible the primary sources upon which our visualisations are based, viewers will be able to evaluate the finished models as confidently as they would any other kind of research hypothesis.

This approach is guided by the principles of the London Charter for the Computer-based Visualisation of Cultural Heritage (2.1) February 2009. (If unfamiliar with the use of computer visualisation as a historical research method in general or the London Charter in particular, a good place to start is the on-line Introduction to the Charter written by Richard Beacham, Hugh Denard and Franco Niccolucci in 2006.)

By publishing our journey as a web-log, to which anyone can add comments, we hope that the Abbey Theatre, 1904 project will help to stimulate new ideas and questions about the history of this fascinating and important time and place.

To continue, see the website’s Contents, or use the links in the right-hand margin.




image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace