Inside the Library’s Labyrinth #1: Making a Drama out of a Crisis


The uses we make of the Library catalogue and other online resources have changed dramatically during the Covid19 crisis.  One new addition to our catalogue that certainly qualifies for consideration in this category of alternative usage is Drama Online.    

It will be appealing, useful and thought-provoking for those with an interest in the subject. To many more of us, it will act as a wonderfully distracting way of spending a few hours.

Drama Online is a database dedicated to the study of all things related to the theatrical process and experience.  In its own words it:

meets the full range of teaching needs for theatre studies, literature courses and drama schools. From the epic to the monologue; ensemble to one-person plays; comedy to tragedy; the historical to the contemporary; and from the highly political to the profoundly personal, there is plenty to discover.

Set up with easy-to-follow tabs and guidance, a theatre or drama student will find much here that is useful.  Alphabetical drop down lists allow the user to search for favourite plays, playwrights, genres or periods of theatre. There are textual studies, sound recordings and other study aids, but the gems on this database can be found front and centre when you see its homepage.

Inside the Library’s Labyrinth #1: Making a Drama out of a Crisis

Visit Drama Online today and you will be met with a still photograph from one of a number of well-known theatrical productions (It was Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein when I took a look).  For the many of us who are occasional theatregoers there is a glittering array of the best theatrical works and performances that have been captured on film in the past few years including:

  • Four of Oscar Wilde’s plays populated with stellar casts from London’s West End
  • The Donmar Warehouse Shakespeare Trilogy
  • The Hollow Crown –  Shakespeare’s History Plays performed by, amongst others, David Tennant, Judi Dench and Hugh Bonneville
  • The ground-breaking production of Hamlet with Maxine Peak in the lead role
  • The National Theatre Collection including Frankenstein, One Man Two Guvnors, Peter Pan and Treasure Island as well as a number of Shakespearian productions including King Lear, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company Collection
  • BBC Drama documentaries and performances

It is a sign of the times that we are all re-discovering past joys or exploring ways of spending our time that we would not, in usual times, consider.

So why not gather your household together, set up an impromptu bar for your intermission essentials and perhaps even dress up for the occasion.   Or just play it simple with a hot mug of tea and a cake or biscuit, settle back and enjoy the experience of an Oscar Wilde classic or a barnstorming production of one of Shakespeare’s best.  And although study or analysis may be the furthest thing from your mind, before you know it you will be asking questions of the drama unfolding before you and a little while after that you might start making sense of some of the things in your life.

If ‘all the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed’ (Sean O’Casey) a visit to Drama Online could be an opportunity for all of us to rehearse just a little bit more.

The exceptional range of material available is unparalleled. Plays will be permanently available – no stock problem or waiting. Drama Online represents a saving of time, money and patience as well as being a portal to exciting possibilities of plays old and new.

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