The Theatre Museum, Covent Garden, has launched a project to set up the UK’s first searchable database of theatrical productions, following a £22,000 grant from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the national development agency which advises government on policy for the museum sector.
The project will attempt to unite the cast lists from every recorded theatrical production, currently held by separate theatres across Britain. The information will then be stored on a database that will be made accessible to members of the public.
Museum staff will be helped in running the project by the Theatre Information Group, the UK branch of the International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts. The group’s chairman Guy Baxter commented: “It’s all about finding the sources that are already available and putting them together. It would be great to be able to share all that information with the general public.
“We will have data on all cast members. So, someone whose ancestor was an actor would be able to find out exactly which production he was in. A lot of people are interested in the history of the theatre. At last they will have the opportunity to find out about it without having to go to individual theatre websites.”
The TIG has already begun investigations into the feasibility of the project and is aiming to have a final decision on whether and to what extent the project will be able to proceed by the end of the year. It will then be looking for further funding to embark on the scheme itself.