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Drama and Theatre Arts: Websites

Subject support from Library Services for staff and students in Drama and Theatre Arts

Evaluating web sources

Anyone can put information on the web, so how can you tell if it's reliable and accurate?

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author?  Do they have qualifications/a reputation in the relevant area?
  • Is the web site affiliated with anorganisation?  If so, what is the mission of that organisation?
  • Has the information been properlyreferenced?  Are the references authoritative?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • Is there any reason for bias on this web site?
  • Has the website been well presented in an appropriately academic style?
  • Has anyone recommended this web site to you?
  • Does the information match what you have learned from other sources?

Using websites to find information in your field

Useful websites that are relevant to Drama and Theatre Arts include:

AHDS Performing Arts
http://www.ahds.ac.uk/performingarts/index.html
AHDS Performing Arts supports research, learning and teaching with high quality and dependable digital resources related to music, dance, theatre, radio, film, television, and performance.

Association of Performing Arts Collections
http://www.performingartscollections.org.uk/
Provides a single point of entry for finding and searching performing arts collections in the UK.

British History Online
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/Default.aspx
Digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.

British Library Sound Archive collections. Drama and literature collections
http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/soundarch/

British Library Theatre Archive Project
http://www.bl.uk/projects/theatrearchive/homepage.html
This website accompanies a major project to reinvestigate British theatre history 1945-1968, from the perspectives of both the theatregoer and the practitioner.

The British Theatre Guide
http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/index.htmGood source of reviews, articles, interviews etc on all aspects of British theatre.

Designing Shakespeare
http://www.ahds.rhul.ac.uk/ahdscollections/
Designing Shakespeare is a vast resource of photographs, reviews, and information relating to significant Shakespeare productions 1960-2000. The site was developed to help students and scholars gain a greater understanding of the work of theatre designers working in Britain during the last forty years of the previous century. It was also designed to illustrate the vast range of possible interpretations of Shakespeare's work.

East London Theatre archive
http://www.elta-project.org/home.html

Equity
http://www.equity.org.uk/
Website of the Performing Arts trade union

Folger Shakespeare Library
http://www.folger.edu/
Home to the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials and to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art. Website offers the facility to learn about Folger events and resources, both online and on location. Online texts, teaching tools and digital collections. A great resource. Link to the Hamnet catalogue.

Internet Broadway Database
http://www.ibdb.com/index.php
The official database for Broadway theatre information, the website contains information about productions from the beginnings of New York theatre until today.

Internet theatre bookshop
http://www.stageplays.com/
British site selling virtually every play currently published in the English language

National Theatre Archive
http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover-more/archive
A virtual showcase for the history of the National Theatre, displaying images of the various media held by the Archive. Contains link to the archive catalogue and bibliography on the history of the theatre.

Official London Theatre Guide
http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/
Run by the Society of London Theatre

Project Gutenburg
http://www.gutenberg.org/
Over 40,000 free ebooks including historic texts.

Royal Shakespeare Company
 http://www.rsc.org.uk/explore/
Explore a wide variety of information on current and past productions at the theatre.

RSC Performance Database
http://calm.shakespeare.org.uk/dserve/dserve.exe?dsqApp=Archive&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqCmd=SearchRSC.tcl
Data about plays, productions and the creative and performing artists who have been involved with the RSC and its predecessors in Stratford-upon-Avon from 1879 to the present. Facility to search for performances of a play, by venue or date, or for people or roles. From the resulting list you will be guided to the performance record which gives details of the production including the full cast list. Contains list of reviews up to 1993.

Society for Theatre Research
www.str.org.uk/

Talkin' Broadway
http://www.talkinbroadway.com/
Information on American theatre with links to other sites.

Theatre Reviews Limited
theatrereviews.com/
Reviews from New York, New Jersey, and around the US

Stagework
http://www.stagework.org.uk/stageworks/index.html
An online theatre resource covering selected work from the National Theatre, the Royal Court, and Northern Broadsides. Features interviews with actors and directors, footage of rehearsals and behind the scenes activity, clips from performances and resources for teachers.

Theatre Voice
http://www.theatrevoice.com
Online resource for audio material about British Theatre. Top critics discuss the latest shows and talk to leading actors, writers, directors and designers about their work.

Touchstone
http://www.touchstone.bham.ac.uk/welcome.html
Touchstone was set up to identify and map significant UK Shakespeare collections. It aims to facilitate and encourage research in Shakespeare studies that will benefit both the academic and the wider community. Has useful listings of current productions of Shakespeare and other Renaissance drama and a database of Shakespeare productions from 1996-2008 called Traffic of the Stage.

UK Theatre Collections database in Culture Grid
http://www.performingartscollections.org.uk/resources/search-collections/
The UK Theatre Collections database in Culture Grid contains descriptions of over 250 collections in Association for Performing Arts Collections member and other institutions.

UK Theatre Web
www.uktw.co.uk/

University of Bristol Theatre Collections
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/theatrecollection/
Details of the great number of collections held at Bristol in addition to the Mander & Mitchenson Collection.

University of Warwick Centre for the Study of the Renaissance
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ren/elizabethan_jacobean_drama
Teaching and learning tool for contextualising the period and for engaging with the playtexts. Resources on Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Webster and Thomas Middleton.

Victoria & Albert Museum: Theatre and Performance
https://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/theatre-performance
Includes access to a wide variety of information and research resources.

Virtual Manuscript Room
http://vmr.bham.ac.uk/Collections/ShakespeareInstitute/
Renaissance Theatre Company prompt books, unpublished film scripts, letters of Mary Cowden Clarke and other treasures from the University’s Shakespeare collections.

What's on Stage
http://www.whatsonstage.com/
Britain's National Performing Arts Information Service

For more websites see the LibGuide for Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies

Finding information on the internet

There is a huge range of information on the Internet, but you need to be vigilant about the quality of what you find. Using subject gateways and sites which are created by subject specialists will ensure that you find information that has been evaluated for its academic quality.

Wikipedia - good or bad?

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, written collaboratively by anyone who wishes to contribute. Many people are constantly editing Wikipedia, making thousands of changes per hour. For more information, seeAbout Wikipedia.

Anyone with access to the internet can edit almost every page, and this is both the strength and the weakness of the site: 

  • Because there are so many people willing to freely give their time and expertise to Wikipedia, the content can be an excellent introduction to a topic, well-referenced, and mistakes are often corrected quickly. 
  • However, because edits can be made anonymously, we cannot know whether the author is an expert on the subject or whether they have a particular agenda to push.

Wikipedia is not considered to be a suitably authoritative source of information for academic study.

It is not a good idea to reference Wikipedia in your assignments. If you choose to use Wikipedia as a starting point for your topic, however, the article will introduce you to the key vocabulary for the topic which will be useful for further searching in Findit@Bham.ac.uk and bibliographic databases.

For guidance on how to evaluate the quality of Wikipedia articles, see Evaluating Wikipedia article quality.