There are many different Shakespearean stage history projects to pursue. You can research a specific play, a specific role, a period of time, an actor, actress or director, or a combination of any of these. Unless the play in which you are interested has an entry in Section IV, the place to start is always the books in Section I, General Overview.

In terms of available information, there are a series of polarities that reveal the movements of cultural prestige within Shakespearean stage history. There will always be more available about British productions than about American. There will always be more about staged productions than about film versions. There will always be more about films than about television productions.

You should use the same skepticism you have with regard to reviews of the latest Tom Hanks movie when researching old productions of Shakespeare, especially if you are relying on an actor's account of his own work. A lot of the time, what a company attempts to achieve and what it does achieve are different things. David Selbourne's day-by-day account of the rehearsal process for Peter Brook's famous 1970 RSC production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is a remarkable example of this contrast: the textual exploration crucially important to Brook and his actors in the long rehearsal process was apparently incidental to reviewers all over the world who were more interested in the Chinese acrobat costumes. The actor's opinion is always less important, though it is sometimes more colorful, than that of the audience.
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