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Hope Library Guides

THEA 301 Western Theatre History I: Production History

A guide for researching Theatre History through 1700.

Secondary Sources

As you read the secondary sources on your play, keep an eye out for any mention they make of important or controversial productions.  These might be worth following up on.  Take notes on date, location (city and house), and the director and major actors.  Also note if they say why the production was significant.

"Stage History" Subject Search in Primo Books + Media - Depending on how deeply you want to dig you could search for your author along with this subject heading.  This will not bring up reviews but more analysis, but it could point you toward particular productions.

  • advanced Primo search that includes Subject "stage History" along with keyword sophocles

For Shakespeare, there are a large number of books devoted to production history. Here is a Subject Heading Search that focuses on more recent productions:

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Stage history -- 1950-

Or, try this General Shakespeare Stage History subject search, and replace Othello with the name of your play.

Collecting Reviews

Especially for recent productions, Google can be a powerful and easy place to locate reviews.  Here are some tips to make these searches more effective.

  • Rather than searching broadly, search with a known production in mind, and include the company/house, director or major actor as one of your keywords.
  • Narrow your results to the year that the show was produced.
  • Don't pick just any review!  Look for reviews by major newspapers or significant theatre blogs and websites. 
  • Find a review that's locked behind a paywall?  Talk to Jessica, the library can likely order it for you!

 

Primo - This engine can be a good place to start because it indexes a lot of the library's newspaper and magazine full-text collections.  Always narrow down to your date range to the year of the production you are looking for and consider adding a keyword for the director, major actor, or house.

  • In Primo Newspapers are searched separately through Newspaper Search About 50% of the articles you find here are not available at Hope, but you will be offered an InterLibrary Loan link if you would like to request any of these. You can also try Googling the title to see if there is a free copy archived somewhere.

International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance

IBTD indexes and in many cases provides full text to many of the major review sources for theatrical productions. Searching here for your play will automatically eliminate many of the smaller productions you are less interested in.

To just see production reviews, structure your search in this way:

IBTD search for othello as a subject AND Play OR theatrical Production as subject. Document type is limited to Entertainment Review

Skim the results for the names of notable houses, directors, and/or actors. Once you have identified a production you are interested in, conduct a new keyword search for just that production and limit it to reviews.

Other Databases for Locating Productions

There are several other databases that can be used to locate productions. Many of them focus on a particular type of play or production location.