A production history serves several functions. Most importantly it reconstructs past performances so that their memory endures even after all who bore witness to a particular performance have died. Unlike film, theater is an ephemeral art form that requires scholars who are committed to preserving records of individual performances. Without the efforts of theater historians, the work of theater artists would perish the moment after the cast takes its final bow. Performance histories also show how attitudes and approaches to a play can evolve and change over time. They demonstrate how various productions can exist in conversation with each other, sometimes borrowing and sometimes intentionally deviating from earlier productions; and they look for ways in which a production is responding to a particular moment in history. Thus, theater historians are not evaluating individual performances in a vacuum, as reviewers often do, but are instead seeing productions as part of a vast historical continuum. Furthermore, because production histories detail the benefits and drawbacks of specific production choices and directorial approaches, they have the potential to influence future practice. Finally, production histories can inform the critical discourse surrounding a particular play.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Key Productions and Performances
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number