Designing Shakespeare: an audio-visual archive 1960-2000
Research Questions and Problems
Can a comprehensive audio-visual archive of performance information encourage further research into performance in English Departments and support teaching in Drama and Theatre Studies Departments?
Can oral history interviews with designers add significantly to the study of performance?
Can access to a large database of digital images based around a design theme encourage greater emphasis on the visual elements of performance for scholars and students of Shakespeare?
What can we conclude about the development of theatre design, theatre spaces and theatre practice generally over the forty year period covered using a wide-reaching audio-visual archive of this kind?
Is it possible to construct a new intellectual framework to support scholarly writing which incorporates both a traditional monograph and illustrative material in digital form?
Aims and Objectives
To draw together the strengths of the two researchers working in the Centre of Multimedia Performance History (COMPH) at Royal Holloway to create a scholarly resource for the study of Shakespearean performance unlike any which currently exists.
To test, in a focused pilot project, the usefulness of oral history for the study of performance.
To overcome the technical and copyright hurdles of a representative database which will be created for deposit with the PADS in Glasgow in mind, in order to provide a possible model for the discipline.
To create an audio-visual archive which is useful to a range of the disparate disciplines which approach the study of Shakespeare - focusing primarily on textual studies, performance history and the study of design.
To develop a computer interface which supports an intellectually rigorous framework of enquiry and brings together the strengths of printed text and digital materials.
Research Imperative and Context
The introduction of computers to the study of Shakespeare has allowed for the illustration of performance on video to accompany text. The movement towards the study of performance both in the commercial realm and also in many English Departments has, unfortunately, focused on film and television adaptation of the plays not on live theatre. This is partly the result of copyright restrictions when dealing with live performance and the ease of access to already produced adaptations for the screen but also there has been a decided movement way from the theatre and towards the metaphors of the film screen as a means of engaging televisually trained students. When theatre is represented it is usually only in terms of the spoken text and not in terms of the visual, temporal and spatial aspects of the theatre which make it unique. The aims of this project are twofold: on the one hand, it was designed to create a new kind of archive to support a rich audio-visually based study of live Shakespearean production; on the other hand, it was aimed at creating a new format for scholarly analysis which integrates the written text with digital illustration of live performance, bringing together the strengths of the book and the Internet.
Carson, Christie. ‘A report on Virtual Reality (VR) in theatre history research: Creating a spatial context for performance.’ Early Modern Literary Studies Special Issue 13 (April, 2004): 2.1-12 .
Carson, Christie ‘Digital Resources for Teaching and Learning’ English Subject Centre Newsletter, Issue 6, February 2004, pp. 14-19.
Carson, Christie. 'The Evolution of Online Editing: Where will it end?' Shakespeare Association of America, Bermuda, March 17-19, 2005
Carson, Christie. ‘Comparative Visual Cultures: building a case’ Shakespeare Association of America, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 8-10, 2004
Carson, Christie. ‘From CD to the Internet: Freed of Constraints or Freed of Context?’ British Shakespeare Association at De Montfort University, Leicester, August 29-31, 2003
Carson, Christie. ‘From CD to the Internet: Freed of Constraints or Freed of Context?’ The Condition of the Subject, Senate House, July 17-19, 2003
Carson, Christie. ‘Digital Resources for the Study of Shakespeare’ International Theatre Research Conference, Waseda University, Tokyo, March 12-14, 2003
Carson, Christie. ‘Designing Shakespeare: Why Is An Audio-Visual Archive Necessary?’ Digital Resources in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, September 8-11, 2002
Carson, Christie. ‘Designing Shakespeare: making an audio-visual archive accessible’ Shared Visions, LTSN Centres for Art and Design, Architecture and Performance, Brighton, September 1-3, 2002
Carson, Christie. ‘Designing Shakespeare’ International Shakespeare Conference, The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, August 18-23, 2002
Carson, Christie. ‘From CD to the Internet: Moving towards, accessibility, flexibility and fluidity’ 7th World Shakespeare Congress, Valencia, Spain, April 18-23, 2001