Royal Shakespeare Company Archives

From Playwrights to Performance

Discover the creative decisions made by directors and designers at the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and its predecessor, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company.

The material within this collection allows users to explore how the works of William Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and other playwrights have been performed since the late nineteenth century. Researchers are able to chart the company's performance history through c.1,400 prompt books, which are further complemented by photographs, original designs, sheet music, programmes, and production records for the RSC's most innovative productions.

  • Prompt books for around 400 plays by more than 200 playwrights, dating from Ancient Greece to the present day
  • Compare and contrast any two documents using AM's split screen viewer
  • Material relating to Peter Brook’s ground breaking 1955 production of Titus Andronicus, starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh – including prompt books and original costume designs
  • Archival insights into 53 innovative and pioneering productions, selected by the editorial board and presented as case studies including Peter Brook’s 1970 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Gregory Doran’s 2016 production of The Tempest

Key data

Period covered


Source archive

  • Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Interpretations of Shakespeare’s works, those of his contemporaries, and other playwrights
  • Performance and staging
  • Set, costume, lighting and sound design
  • Twentieth century and contemporary theatre
  • Costume designs
  • Music files
  • Photographs
  • Production records
  • Prompt books
  • Stephen Brimson Lewis, Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Geraldine Collinge, Formerly of the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Michael Dobson, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
  • Gregory Doran, Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Paul Edmondson, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
  • Karin Thompson, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
  • Ayanna Thompson, Arizona State University
  • Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and Northern Irish Studies
  • Literature
  • Theatre

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