Published June 1, 2022 | Version v1
Presentation Open

Digital Theatre Collections and Virtual Exhibitions as Storytellers of National Theatre History

  • 1. Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research; DARIAH-HR


Bearing in mind the potential of theatre collections, both building-based archives, museums, in-house theatre archives, privately owned collections and digital repositories, databases and collections, in shaping or manufacturing national theatre memory, the paper explores the relationship of selected Croatian digital theatre collections and virtual exhibitions and their possible roles in creating or (re)defining national theatre history/histories.

The paper focuses on the mechanisms through which virtual exhibitions and digital theatrical repositories participate in shaping the narrative of the Croatian national theatre history based on selected examples of available national e-sources. In this sense, the paper will try to review the criteria for deciding which material will be published or aggregated to a larger international repository and how it will be described using a specific metadata scheme. Criteria of copyright, visual/aural attractiveness and adaptability of material for digital infrastructures, availability of materials (archival records, documents and artefacts) or technical predispositions for digitization will be considered, together with the ideologies that often play a substantial role in selection and modes of material representation. Furthermore, the paper will address the issue of financial and human resources in order to point out inequalities between the capacity of mainstream and alternative theatres or individual artists, established theatre institutions and independent groups or individuals, professional and amateur troupes, etc. to digitally present materials that attest to their artistic work. It will also state the conceptual differences that arise from the aforementioned inequalities of these binary opposites, as well as from the (inter)nationally accepted story of what each of them should represent. The paper will then set out to answer two questions: first, the extent to which the availability of e-resources to domestic and international audiences is a favourable factor in disseminating, popularizing and understanding national discourse on theatre, and secondly, whether the availability of such unregulated infrastructures, in fact, fragments and limits the public perspective. Finally, the paper will try to offer guidelines on how to broaden this perspective through inclusive practices and a systematic approach to the treatment of theatrical records in digital resources, as well as in analogue collections.



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