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THTR 1410: Introduction to Theatre

What is a Production History?

A production history (also called performance history or stage history) is an account of significant productions or adaptations of a theatrical work.

A production history answers several questions:

  • Whenwhere, and by whom was the work written, directed, designed, performed, and adapted?
  • What made the productions significant or unique in terms of style or approach?
  • How were the productions received by critics and audiences? (This is sometimes called reception history.)
  • What changes occurred during the development of the productions?

Production history helps us to appreciate the possibilities inherent in a theatrical work; the changing perceptions of it over time; and the theatrical styles and approaches of specific places and times.

Reused from Introduction to Dramaturgy: Production History by Harvard Library

Finding Production Histories

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.

 

Book Compliations

Some of the most well-known plays may have books dedicated to the play's production history, like this one:

Online Resources

Some websites cover a play's production details and history:

Production Photos

Photographs from past products also give insight and inspiration:

Theatrical Reviews

Reading theatrical reviews can give you a good sense of a production's history:

To find reviews, search OneSearch using a combination of the play's name and phrases like theatre reviews as keywords. Here's an example: