Theatre in Video

Theatre in Video

See how others are using the collection for teaching and research.

“Unique content and usability. . . With over 500 hours of film, this growing information outpost has vast potential for students, scholars and teachers." ‒Reference Reviews

Theatre in Video contains more than 250 of the world’s most important plays, together with more than 100 video documentaries, online in streaming video—more than 500 hours* and still growing. These definitive performances, by leading actors and directors, have been painstakingly licensed from a wide range of copyright holders. They are now delivered to you over the Internet, in a revolutionary new format developed specifically for drama.

For the first time, students, instructors, and researchers can bookmark specific scenes, monologues, and staging examples and then include those online links in their papers and course reserves.  Class assignments and published papers will take on a whole new dimension.

When using Theatre in Video together with Alexander Street ’s North American Theatre Online, users will have a single place to find the full text of a play, the history of its performance, the production background, reference materials and ephemera, and now the complete performance itself.

While the texts of plays can serve as lasting documents, the productions are ephemeral; a live performance is gone when the curtain falls. And yet the collaborative elements of theatre in performance – the work of the actors, directors, and designers – have tremendous scholarly and educational value long after a production closes. Now, with Theatre in Video, students and researchers will be able to revisit great performances again and again, and these landmark events can become a permanent part of the curriculum.


From the most important productions of Shakespeare to rare, in-depth footage focusing on the work of Samuel Beckett, Theatre in Video offers online streaming video available electronically for the first time. With live television broadcasts of New York productions in the 50s, contemporary revivals of classic works and experimental performances from the 60s and 70s, and other performances, Theatre in Video covers a wide range of 20th century theatre history.  

The first release of Theatre in Video will include notable productions of Incident at Vichy by Arthur Miller (1973), The Iceman Cometh, by Eugene O’Neill (1960); Awake and Sing!, by Clifford Odets (1972); Master Builder, by Henrik Ibsen (1960); Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare (1973); Six Characters in Search of an Author, by Luigi Pirandello (1976); and many others.

Performances targeted for future releases include King Lear with Orson Welles; Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, with Lee J. Cobb; Beckett’s Happy Days, with Irene Worth; Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor, with Lee Grant and Marsha Mason; Tennessee Williams’s Eccentricities of a Nightingale, with Blythe Danner; and a long list of additional productions.

How Will You Use It?

Theatre in Video lets educators and researchers bring a new dimension into nearly all aspects of performance studies and production history. Here are just a few of the tools available in the collection:

  • Multiple productions of several of Shakespeare’s plays will allow for comparative analysis, showing various interpretations of the text and technical and cultural differences among the presentations.
  • The stage work of legendary directors and actors are together for the first time, cross searchable and available for side-by-side comparison.
  • Interviews with directors, designers, writers, and actors, along with excerpts of live performances, illustrate the development of the texts and the productions. For example, users can watch and hear Arthur Miller discussing The Ride Down Mount Morgan and directing a rehearsal.
  • Documentary histories examine such varied subjects as The Globe Theatre; Edward Albee; The Royal Shakespeare Company; The Federal Theatre Project; Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino; The New Drama As Viewed by William Saroyan (examining the avant garde, with excerpts from The Killer, by Eugene Ionesco, The Sand Box, by Edward Albee, and Krapp's Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett, with Myron McCormick); Adolphe Appia’s Design Innovations; The Role of Theatre in Ancient Greece; and other topics.

Specially developed controlled vocabularies, used with multiple and combinable search fields, enable users to browse by genre, artist, time period, place, and other fields. The search can be simple – show every production directed by Joseph Papp – or complex. For example, find all examples of political satire after 1965, or, find all instances of women performing traditional male roles. Once the user identifies a video, a click delivers the relevant section over the Internet. The user can also choose to watch the entire video.

Theatre in Video expands your library’s existing collection of video recordings, while minimizing the problem of damaged or lost VHS or DVD copies and also saving shelf space. Both beginner and advanced users will want to use the service for teaching, learning, and research.

Editorial Selection

The collection aims to begin in the 1930s and will progress through the 20th century with videos covering the work of the Group Theater and Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble. Performances from the 40s and 50s will cover works by William Saroyan, Thornton Wilder, Maxwell Anderson, for example, as well as many works by members of the renowned Actors Studio. From the 60s are performances by Jerzy Grotowski’s Polish Laboratory Theatre and Joe Chaikin’s Open Theater. Moving into the 70s, the database includes productions from Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. A broad range of contemporary productions are also included, and both Broadway and off-Broadway productions are represented in each decade.

The writers and actors will also span a wide range of periods and nationalities. Some of the authors represented include Sean O’Casey, Jean Cocteau, Derek Walcott, John Millington Synge, Voltaire, August Strindberg, Henrik Ibsen, Moliere, D.H. Lawrence, Elie Wiesel, Aeschylus, Anton Chekov, Jean Genet, Jean Giraudoux, Sophocles, Alfred Jarry, Federico Garcia Lorca, John Osborne, Harold Pinter, Racine, George Bernard Shaw, Heinrich von Kleist, Peter Handke, Terrence McNally, Neil Simon, Ntozake Shange, Tennessee Williams, Wendy Wasserstein, Lanford Wilson, George S. Kaufman, Robert Sherwood, Sidney Kingsley, Maxwell Anderson, A.R. Gurney, and Richard Sheridan. The performers include Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Faye Dunaway, William Hurt, Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, John Gielgud, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins (the future Hannibal), Ben Kingsley, Juliet Stevenson, Zoe Wanamaker, and Prunella Scales, to name just a few.

Publication Details

At completion, Theatre in Video will contain more than 350 full-length plays and documentaries*. Theatre in Video is available on the Web, either through one-time purchase of perpetual rights or through annual subscription.

BBC Television Shakespeare

Exclusively for Canadian customers of Theatre in Video, the collection also offers as an optional add-on the full content of the BBC Television Shakespeare series, originally televised from 1978 to 1985. This archive features 37 individual productions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, all adapted for television and featuring a diverse roster of acclaimed performers including Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart, Jon Finch, John Rhys-Davies, and Bob Hoskins.

COMING IN 2015: Theatre in Video: Volume II. Full details will be available soon!

*Not all content available in all countries. Contact us for more information about the content available to institutions outside of the U.S. and Canada.