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THR 2520 Theatre History I (Sills) Fall 2023

What is a Production History?

A production history (also called performance history or stage history) is an account of significant productions of a theatrical work (play, opera, dance, etc.).

There are two levels of research on production history:

  • Dates, places, interpreters: When, where, and by whom has the play been performed?
  • What was each production like? What made it significant or unique in terms of style, approach, or reception?

Why study a play’s production history?

  • A play can serve as a case study of changing cultural norms and theatrical styles over time.
  • Seeing how different interpreters have approached a play can deepen our understanding of it.

How do you find production histories?

  • Unless someone else has compiled one for you, there’s no single, simple place to find them. You have to piece the history together from several kinds of sources. More information is available here.

Production History Tips

See below for some suggestions on how to find out when and where a particular play has been performed. Books and journal articles may be helpful.

  • Biographies of the playwright
  • Critical editions of the play
  • Websites on the playwright or the play
  • For Broadway productions, search the Internet Broadway Database and the Playbill Vault.
  • Journal articles via e-resources (see literature review tab)
  • Stage histories of particular plays or playwrights

Dramaturgical Research Guides

These are guides published by other colleges & universities, so we do not have access to many of the resources listed here. But, viewing the different areas/aspects of dramaturgical research can help inform your projects.

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