Since I began my professional career as a librarian, my greatest interest has always been in helping individuals learn. Initially this meant finding and understanding the resources they needed for study, but I became increasingly aware that not all learning is done in the classroom or the library. Experiencing Shakespeare onstage in good productions helps learning about the plays. When I came to work at the Shakespeare Centre Library in Stratford-upon-Avon, which cares for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production archives, I realised that even the material remains of productions are rich resources for the study and understanding of his work.
Copies of the books which Shakespeare used as original sources also offer insights. Comparing the source, which Shakespeare took as the spark from which his imagination took fire, and Shakespeare’s own version, is to see genius in action.
In my career I’ve been involved in many projects which have aimed at making Shakespeare’s work and the study of his work on stage more accessible.
- Collaborating on digital projects like Royal Holloway College’s Designing Shakespeare and the RSC’s Pictures and Exhibitions project. Both digitised images of RSC productions and made them freely available online.
- The creation of the online resource known as the RSC Performance Database from an internal database of RSC productions and personnel. This is still one of the most comprehensive resources of its kind
- Picture research and advice for books by leading authors including Peter Holland, Gregory Doran, Carol Rutter, Reg Foakes and Barbara Hodgdon.
- Setting up the documentation, organisation and cataloguing of the RSC’s archives including major photographic acquisitions such as the Joe Cocks and Reg Wilson collections.
- Creation and delivery of a presentation on the RSC’s archives, and collaborating with the University of Warwick to turn it into part of the CAPITAL Centre’s Reperforming Performance project
- Delivering papers and presentations to major conferences such as the British Shakespeare Association and the international theatre libraries group SIBMAS.
- TV interviews for Midlands Today, for the documentary Stealing Shakespeare, the Antiques Roadshow, and for a Radio 3 programme on architect Elisabeth Scott.
- Writing articles such as “There’s no business like show business” for the journal Business Archives and regular articles for local newspapers.
- Presentations and lectures on the work of the Shakespeare Centre Library.
- Teaching on informal courses, eg Adventures in the Archives.
I’m now building on these experiences to develop new ways of working with Shakespeare.