- All The World’s A Stage: Www Links For Theatre History And Early Music
Created and maintained by Abigail Ann Young for the Centre for Research in Early Drama and the Records of Early English Drama project (REED) [End Page 478] and based at the University of Toronto, All the World’s a Stage presents itself as an informal and in-progress guide to resources which the REED directors have found to be particularly interesting or helpful for medieval and early modern drama studies. Founded in 1975, REED is an international scholarly project that for the past twenty years has worked to locate, transcribe, and edit all surviving documentary evidence of drama, minstrelsy, public ceremonial, and other communal entertainment in England from the Middle Ages until the closing of the London theatres in 1642. True to REED’s emphases, its Web site foregrounds English material, although some information on early European drama is included (and more is sought), and manifests a textual bias, stressing paleography, text-editing, and codicology rather than broader social and historical contextualization of early performances. The site is clearly far from comprehensive and can seem at times downright parochial. Nonetheless, All the World’s a Stage represents the best first-stop for anyone seriously interested in early European performances.
All the World’s a Stage is divided into ten categories which, with one glaring exception, offer a solid footing for early drama studies. Resources for Mediaeval and Early Modern Theatre, for instance, provides links to more than a dozen sites including a page featuring photos and commentary by student performers in Catholic University’s production of “The Slaughter of the Innocents” pageant at the 1998 Toronto staging of the York Cycle; the Early Drama, Art, and Music (EDAM) project; the Mediaeval Drama Centre at the University of Camerino in Italy, which includes Sydney Higgins’s valuable page of medieval drama links (http://www.leeds.ac.uk/theatre/emd/links.htm); and the French Medieval Drama Databases Project. Under Early Music and Dance can be found links to the Early Music FAQ, which provides information and answers about early music; to the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae and Notitiae Cantus, important resources for Byzantine and Western chant, respectively; and to various early music performance troupes. The Links to Libraries and Archival Sites category directs the user to important archives, in addition to lesser-known resources.
It is hard, however, to see the usefulness of the Other Documentary Editing Projects category, which includes such things as links to the ADE (Association for Documentary Editing) Links Page, the Australian Scholarly Editions Centre—and more bizarrely—to the William Blake Archive, the Lincoln Legal Papers, and the Santayana Edition, none of which are likely to be of much value to scholars of early drama, even those interested in text editing. This section could profitably be replaced with links to social and cultural history, which would help situate early performances within their historical contexts. Finally, a link to Perform, the medieval and early modern listserve based at Indiana University would provide access to on-going discussions of research problems.
The best feature of All the World’s a Stage is its annotations, which provide a running commentary that not only alerts the reader to what can be found at other sites, but also gives a sense of current methods, concerns and controversies in early drama studies. I hope that where annotations are now sparse or lacking, as in the list of archives where early drama texts can be found, they will be added. Noting, for example, which manuscripts of early plays are in the British Library, or what kinds of information about early drama can be found in the Public Record Office would make the site much more informative, especially for graduate students.
The weakest feature of the site is its design. Like many scholarly Web sites, it lacks an overall plan, particularly one that can accommodate growth. While it is navigable at the moment, if the site expands, as is likely...