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Theater Research

all things theater, drama, performing arts

What is Production History

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.

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, both primary and secondary.

Source:  Harvard University Library, Dramaturgy Guide, Production History.