VI. Where to go from here

When researching a specific theatrical production, newspaper and magazine reviews are the most immediately obtainable primary resource. Some of the older, pre-photography newspapers have elaborate drawings of contemporary productions. Any newspaper with the word "illustrated" in its mast-head might be a treasure trove.

For film and television, most libraries now have at least a small collection of videotapes. The major international Shakespeare collections are the US Library of Congress, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the RSC, the Birmingham Shakespeare Institute, and the British National Film & Television Archive (see McKernan and Terris). In Berkeley, the Moffitt Media Resources Center has quite a bit, as does the Berkeley Public Library. Nearby, U. C. Santa Cruz has a collection distinct from but overlapping with U.C. Berkeley's. If you are in the mood for a really long drive, the main branch of the Santa Monica Public Library has a truly surprising Shakespeare collection. Actors' biographies and autobiographies can be useful also. If you know that Olivier famously played Iago, then surprising bits of information can crop up in biographies. Just remember that actors are not most qualified to evaluate their own work.

Acting Editions. Many famous actors of bygone days put out their own editions of the plays. These can illuminate not only theatrical choices but also general changes in attitude towards the plays from era to era. They can be particularly useful as supplements for what reviews don't say or as correctives for actors' autobiographical accounts.

Promptbooks. These are the director's or prompter's copies of a script for a particular production, complete with lots of notes about who enters from where and when the exit. These are often closer to the production process than either acting editions or reviews, but they are often illegible and do not necessarily bear an exact relationship to what the production eventually looked like. For one example, see Mullin, above, under Macbeth (Section IV). For further information, see Charles H. Shattuck's The Shakespeare promptbooks; a descriptive catalogue (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1965), which describes the prompt-book holdings of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Advanced Study. This involves travel, and takes any project out of the "beginner's" category. The three best known collections are:
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.

The Shakespeare Center : run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford Upon Avon.

The Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham.

Finally, a large number of helpful Shakespeareans are members of the internet community. The SHAKESPEARE ELECTRONIC CONFERENCE, run by the indefatigable Hardy M. Cook, is a remarkable resource. To subscribe to this list, send email to


back to table of contents.