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This project is funded under the Research Development Initiative of the Irish Research Council for the Humantiies and Social Sciences. Its aim was to create a record of performances of Shakespeare’s plays in Ireland, from the Restoration to the foundation of the Abbey Theatre.
One of the key features of the project was the production of a database of Shakespearean productions from 1660 to 1904.
The starting point for the database research was the excellent and invaluable work that already exists on the subject:
- William Smith Clark The Early Irish Stage: The Beginnings to 1720 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955)
- Esther K. Sheldon Thomas Sheridan of Smock Alley (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967)
- John C. Greene and Gladys L. H. Clark The Dublin Stage, 1720–1745: A Calendar of Plays, Entertainments, and Afterpieces (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 1993)
William Smith Clark’s work deals with the period for which there exists the least documentary evidence in terms of a performance history, 1660–1720. The work of John C. Greene and Gladys L. H. Clark continues from Clark’s finishing point at 1720 and runs until 1745. Esther Sheldon’s work picks up where Greene and Clark finishes in 1745, the year that Thomas Sheridan became manager of Smock Alley, and covers the period until 1758 when Sheridan gave up the management of the theatre for good. There is a break in Sheldon’s list from March 1754 until October 1756, the period when Sheridan was in London.
The data for all other dates until the close of 1904 are the result of the work of this project. The source of the data is theatrical advertisements and notices in Dublin newspapers of the period that are held on microfilm in the National Library of Ireland. The main resources are (Faulkner’s) Dublin Journal and the Freeman’s Journal. Other periodicals consulted are the Dublin Evening Post, Dublin Intelligence, Dublin Gazette, Impartial Occurrences (later Pue’s Occurrences), and the Irish Times. Additionally, the online version of the Freeman’s Journal was a valuable tool. It is available from 1820 onwards as part of the British Library’s digitised collection of nineteenth century newspapers.
It is important to note that the database is not a definitive list of all performances of Shakespeare’s plays that took place in Ireland between 1660 and 1904, but one that lists all performances for which evidence currently exists. Greene and Clark present an interesting discussion on the potential number of performances that may have taken place during 1720–1745 in the introduction to their work. By the 1740s theatrical advertisements were well established, so results can certainly be considered more fully accurate from then on. However, there are short periods for when information is not available, for various reasons. The research team takes responsibility for all errors and inaccuracies in the database, and welcomes user feedback.
- The database currently lists all productions in Dublin. We have gathered information about performances in Belfast and elsewhere in Ireland, which is available for download in spreadsheet form elsewhere in this website.
- The number of actors listed in theatrical advertisements constantly changed, ranging from none to four, five or more. The database results display four actors where available.
- In order to facilitate an accurate search function, character names have been standardised according to The Oxford Shakespeare (edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor).
- The five plays for which no performance records exist are 1 Henry VI; 2 Henry VI; 3 Henry VI; Love’s Labour Lost; Pericles.
- The Taming of the Shrew was produced as the adaptation Katherine and Petruchio for most of the period, and therefore both play titles have been used in the database. Searches should be carried out using both titles.
- Given the fluidity of the role of manager for much of the period, the search term ‘Manager’ is a general title that includes managers, actor managers, manager/director.