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Designing Shakespeare (incorporating King Lear Performance Photographs Collection)

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How to use the collection | Research method | Copyright information

Designing Shakespeare has been developed to help students and scholars gain a greaterunderstanding of the work of theatre designers working in Britainduring the last forty years of the previous century.

It has also been designed to illustrate the vast range of possible interpretations of Shakespeare's work.

This audio-visual database contains four distinct elements.

  1. A text database of production details and excerpts from theatre reviews which refer to design.
  2. An image database of production photographs selected from the archives of the theatre photographers Donald Cooperand Tom Holte and from the archive of costume designer and lecturer indesign, Janet Arnold.
  3. A collection of video interviews conducted by Dr. Christie Carson with a number of important designers.
  4. A collection of VRML models of the key theatres spaces in Stratford and London where Shakespearehas been performed, developed by theatre designer Chris Dyer.

Thisresearch resource is unusual in that it draws together the work of arange of people, theatre designers, archivists and librarians at theTheatre Museum and the Shakespeare Centre Library with the support workof AHDS Performing Arts.

It is also unusual in that itis not designed to be a finished or final piece of work. Rather ithopes to act as an example of how the disparate elements used intheatre research can usefully be drawn together into a single database.It is also designed to illustrate the advantages of digital technologyfor the study of performance history. Ideally this project should beseen as a cornerstone onto which further research projects in the areaof theatre history might be built.

The productiondetails database covers all professional productions of Shakespeare inStratford and London over the 40 year period of examination.Illustrations are available for approximately seventy percent of theproductions listed.

In the Additional Informationsection you will find more information about a) how to use thecollection; b) copyright; and c) research methods, collection policyand metadata.

All the materials in the database havebeen made freely available for educational use, however, any commercialuse of this material must involve a licensing agreement with thecopyright holders.

How to use the collection

To view video and audio, you need to download the free Quicktime Media Player (external link)

To view the virtual reality models, you need to download the free Cortona VRML Player (external link)

Thiscollection has been developed to illustrate the rich theatre designhistory of Shakespeare's plays over the last forty years of theprevious century. This audio-visual database is designed to supportteaching and research by students, scholars and interested theatreaudiences and practitioners. It has been made freely available on theweb to both illustrate and test the democratic properties of digitaltechnology.

The collection includes four separate butrelated databases: a text database of production details and reviewextracts, an image database drawn from three quite different theatrecollections, a video database of interview clips with theatre designersin Britain and a database of VRML models of the most commonly usedtheatres.

The users are encouraged to search the dataaccording to their own criteria whether they be the name of a director,a designer, a theatre, a theatre company, a year, a play or any otherpossible search term. The entire collection will be searched and theinformation will be displayed as a series of thumbnails or icons forthe images, video and VRML models, which will be linked to the object,while the production details will appear in full. It is important tostress that the information is all linked to the production details,therefore, a search on a director will bring up a list of productionsthat director was involved with plus the corresponding images, modelsand interview clips. It is assumed that interest in a production or acreative practitioner will involve interest in all available materialto illustrate that production.

The primary uses ofthis database are assumed to be for learning and teaching Drama andTheatre studies. It is hoped that it will also be of use to studentsand scholars working in English Departments. It may also be useful forstudents studying design, photography, architecture and for theatrepractitioners and enthusiasts. The collection has been developedspecifically to allow for, even to encourage, comparative study;whether that be a comparison of several productions of the same play,several productions by the same director or designer or severalproductions in the same theatre or year.

The materialsmade available are either new or formerly restricted in their use so itis hoped that their free availability will inspire new forms ofteaching and research. Users are encouraged to copy the materials intotheir own courseware and lecture notes, to use them in seminars,presentations and online discussions and debates. Commercial use ofthese materials or alteration of the original materials, however, aresubject to copyright restrictions. If you plan to use these materialsother than for illustration, discussion or research pleased read thecopyright page before proceeding.

Research method, Collection policy and Metadata

Thisdatabase draws on already existing archives to create a new collectionof material with a very particular focus - the performance history ofShakespeare in Britain over the forty year period of 1960 - 2000. Eachportion of the Archive is drawn from different sources so it is best todeal with each one separately.

Production details andreview excerpts: The starting point and the backbone of the project isthe production details database. At the centre of this database arerecords generated from the FESTE database at the Shakespeare CentreLibrary for all the productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company. ForLondon productions Plays and Players and the London Theatre Record wereused as a starting point for research. All of the records generatedfrom these sources were then cross-referenced and verified against thephotographic record of Donald Cooper and the Theatre Museum'sproduction files. Definitions of what constitutes a London-basedproduction were therefore largely pre-determined by the selectionprocesses of the two theatre journals and the Theatre Museum. It wasthe decision of the project's Principal Investigator not to include theNational Youth Theatre, performances by Drama Schools or other amateuror semi-professional groups. A wide range of pub, outdoor andsite-specific productions have been included, however, the criteria ofprofessional production had to be met. If users would like to drawattention to errors or omissions please contact Dr. Christie Carson,

Image Database: The photographs havebeen selected from three archives. The first is the private archive ofthe theatre photographer Donald Cooper who has been one of the leadingtheatrical photographers in the United Kingdom since 1970. DonaldCooper's archive covers a wide range of productions in both Stratfordand London that were taken primarily at photocalls or dress rehearsals.As a result, they are taken from the front of the stage area and areextremely useful for illustrating costume and set detail.

Thesecond primary archive used was the Tom Holte Theatre PhotographicCollection at the Shakespeare Centre Library in Stratford-upon-Avon.These photographs cover the period from 1960 to 1983 and were takenexclusively of the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Royal ShakespeareTheatre from the front of the dress circle. As a result, these imagesare extremely useful in giving a wider view of the set and stagerelations. These images should be credited as in the metadata for anyform of use.

The last photographic archive used wasthe personal slide library of Janet Arnold, costume designer andlecturer at Royal Holloway University of London. These are notprofessional photographs and rather represent the perspective of aninformed audience member. These images were usually taken during dressrehearsals and therefore are extremely effective in showing sets andcostumes in action, often emphasising lighting states and stagemovement. Janet Arnold also photographed costumes, costume designs andmodels. These have been included where permission was received from thedesigner in question. It must be stressed that these photographs weretaken by a member of the theatre design profession, with theunderstanding and consent of her peers. Photography in the theatre isillegal and the inclusion of these images in no way supports theunlawful capture of theatre imagery.

All of the imagesin the database have been selected to illustrate aspects of theproduction design of each show. All rights remain with the copyrightholders as indicated in the metadata. These images have been clearedfor educational use only. For all other forms of use please see thecopyright page.

Video Interviews: The video interviewswere generated for this project by Dr. Christie Carson. The designersselected for interview were chosen based on the number of productionsof Shakespeare they had designed, the period when they were designing,the kind of theatre they were designing for and their availability andwillingness to participate in the project. An attempt was made to getas wide a range of perspectives as possible.

Theseinterviews have again been made freely available for non-commercialuse, however, the content of these interviews remains the copyright ofRoyal Holloway College. For other forms of use please see the copyrightpage.

VRML Models: The VRML models were developed fromtheatre plans by Chris Dyer, theatre designer and Research Fellow atRoyal Holloway University of London. The theatres selected were chosenbased on the frequency of performance of Shakespeare's plays. Themodels allow for free roaming within them but a series of viewpointshave been selected to show the stage from specific vantage points inthe audience. Three figures have been placed on the stage to show scaleand illustrate the relative size of the performances spaces. Thedistance between the three figures remains the same in each theatremodel.

Metadata Conventions: The metadata conventionswere established in consultation with the Performing Arts Data Service.Dublin Core conventions were used for creating records for all of theobjects in the database. The overarching assumption in cataloguing theinformation was that each item would relate in some way to a productionor a series of productions. This means that the primary object categoryis a text record relating to a time-based event. All of the otherobjects which relate to that production are, in a sense,sub-categorisations of the production-level hierarchy. As a result, asearch for a particular actor, director, theatre or even year willbring up a list of productions which relate to that search term and, asa result, all of the materials linked to that central list of events.All four kinds of data are searched simultaneously with each query andthe results are displayed using icons and thumbnails for the images,models and video clips and full text retrieval for the productiondetails.

Copyright Information

Allof the information provided as part of this AHRB research project ismade freely available for use in lecturers, seminars, assignments,presentations, theses and performances within an educationalenvironment. The copyright of all of these materials remains with thecopyright holders who are clearly indicated in the metadata. If youwould like to use the materials found here for commercial orincome-generating purposes YOU MUST CONTACT THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERSDIRECTLY AND ARRANGE A COMMERCIAL LICENCE.

Copyright holders may be contacted through the following addresses:

Text:All reviews must be referenced to the original sources as stated. Allother information should refer to this project giving a URL and date ofsearch. No permission is required for individual use of entries or useof groups of up to 40 entries. Use of collections of 40 entries or morefrom the text database must be negotiated with the project's principleinvestigator: Dr. Christie Carson, Department of Drama and Theatre,Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX. Email:comph AT

Images: Commercial use of allimages must be negotiated: Donald Cooper, Photostage, P. O. Box 65,Milton Keynes, MK5 7YT. Email: donald.cooper AT

TomHolte: Shakespeare Centre Library, The Shakespeare Centre, HenleyStreet, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6QW. Email: library

Janet Arnold: Dr. Christie Carson,Department of Drama and Theatre, Royal Holloway, University of London,Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX. Email: comph AT

VideoInterviews: All or part of the video interviews must be licensed from:Dr. Christie Carson, Department of Drama and Theatre, Royal Holloway,University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX. Email: comph

VRML Models: Commercial use of the VRMLmodels or images generated from these models must be licensed from:Chris Dyer, Department of Drama and Theatre, Royal Holloway, Universityof London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX. Email: openstages AT

Thecopyright holders and the creative participants involved in the makingof these productions retain moral rights regardless of the freedistribution of these materials on the web. Misuse, distortion orlibellous use of these materials could result in legal action. If youare uncertain about the implications of any proposed use of thesematerials please contact Dr. Christie Carson comph AT Freeaccess will be restricted if misuse of the data becomes widespread.

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