New AM collection takes researchers behind the curtain to survey 130 years of performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is world-renowned for its meticulous research, creative interpretations, and ground-breaking productions of classic plays. The Company has launched the careers of some of the biggest names in theatre, including actors Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, and Ben Kingsley, and directors Peter Hall, Deborah Warner, and Sam Mendes.

Now researchers can delve into the RSC’s extensive production history with AM’s latest collection –Royal Shakespeare Company Archives: From Playwrights to Performance.

This unique collection includes around 1,400 prompt books dating back to 1889, together with extensive archive material relating to 53 landmark presentations, including Peter Brook's 1955 production of Titus Andronicus starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. The material is wide-ranging, with photographs, sheet music, programmes, and original designs for sets, costumes, lighting, and sound. The collection also includes production records which contain a variety of documentation such as show reports, prop lists, technical drawings, and other ephemeral material providing all the colour and detail often lacking in more basic archives.

AM’s integrated digital research tools provide exciting new opportunities for researchers. Extensive metadata enables users to search by actors, directors, and other creative team members The split-screen viewer allows comparative study of texts side-by-side, including the RSC’s copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, inviting researchers to compare contemporary productions with the earliest authoritative text. A range of contextual essays include a guide on how to use prompt books as historical sources, along with video interviews, image galleries, biographical profiles, a glossary, and chronology.

Explore the creative decisions made by directors and designers across c.400 plays by over 200 playwrights, dating from Ancient Greece to the modern day. Rediscover records of audience reactions, and chart how interpretations of Shakespeare and theatre in general have evolved over the last century.

The collection is an incredible resource for researchers, offering a unique insight into one of the world’s leading theatre companies. The range of documents and supporting content provide an overview of the history of productions, people and artistry over an extensive period of time.

Hannah Phillips, Head of Production, AM

To find out more, or to request a free trial, visit the product page here.

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