Stratford Festival Composite Script Collection
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With this issue on Theatre Archives, Jenn Stephenson and I considered many options for the “script” section. There was the tried and true path, trying to find a short Canadian play in which archives featured prominently. We could have gone that route, but as we tossed around ideas with the carefree abandon of those presented with a clean slate, we jointly became tempted to try something different. Rather than a play featuring archives, we considered choosing a play whose many drafts have been archived and publishing excerpts from early through later versions as a sort of “show and tell” (really more “showing” than “telling”). We also talked about asking individual theatre practitioners (actors, designers, administrators, playwrights, etc.) whose papers have been archived to write a couple of paragraphs about the reasons they chose to donate papers to archives and how they felt about their experience with the whole process. All of these alternatives would have made compelling additions to the issue, and—as also often happens when presented with a plethora of options—we found it difficult to choose.
But we had to commit to one—and quickly!—and since we had already read through the proposed articles being considered for inclusion, we saw a great opportunity in Toby Malone’s paper to highlight the script as archival object while at the same time drawing attention to the role of a theatre practitioner-turned-archivist in creating an archival record. Malone’s examination of the Stratford Festival’s prompt-book and “composite-book” collection reveals how an active company has valued its past enough to invest in understanding how past productions were conceived and uses that knowledge to inform future productions. The stage nourishes the archives, and the archives nourishes the stage. [End Page 65]