The search for the fleeting documentation of live theatre and performances just became easier with the launch of the interactive, digital Cuban/Latino Theater Archive (http://scholar.library.miami.edu/archivoteatral/). In this initial phase the archive draws on the works, both written texts and live-art performance, of theatre practitioners. The site contains over 2,000 images of photographs, video recordings, sketches for costumes and stage design, program notes, director’s notebooks, and newspaper clippings.
“The challenge we set out to solve was to create a coherent framework for documentary material based on the complex relationships in live theater”, says Dr Lillian Manzor, director of the archive and associate professor in foreign languages and literatures at the University of Miami.
The digital archive opens up a new approach for theatre researchers and artists. They can discover the relationships between productions, writers, directors, actors, texts, and theatre companies, and the related documentary material that is scattered across personal and institutional collections. A development feature of the archive is the Web-Scenes/Red-escenas that are interpretative, critical, multi-media essays on different aspects of theatrical production.
The focus is on Greater Cuba, a term for the island and the diaspora which, as Dr. Manzor explains, “suggests the ‘border zone’ in which citizenship is reformulated as a result of the encounter between competing national jurisdictions and the global economy.”
The digital archive continues to grow and, like theatre, aims to be collaborative. The database and web-scene platforms are available to other communities of Latino/a scholars and artists interested in the preservation of live theater and performance as intangible cultural heritage. The archive is being developed with the collaboration and feedback from theater practitioners, theatre scholars, librarians, artists, and scientists in the US, and independent collaborators in Cuba. The development of the Cuban/Latino Theater Archive was supported by a fellowship from the University of Miami Libraries.