The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0706 Thursday, 14 April 2005
Date: Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 16:50:13 -0700
Subject: Shakespeare & REED
[Note the estimation of annual value of Shakespeare in the last paragraph.]
New Stage for Shakespeare
Western News (University of Western Ontario), April 13, 2005
Alan Somerset is helping researchers take the dramatic step of staging
information about English drama on the Internet.
Somerset, Professor of English at The University of Western Ontario, has
contributed immensely to the growth of the Records of Early English
Drama (REED) project by editing and archiving information related to
dramatic performances, notably in the county of Shropshire. The project
has evolved into a set of 22 collections of records, the most recent
published this year.
REED examines drama, secular music, ceremonies and other communal
entertainment from approximately 1460 to 1642, when Puritans closed
London theatres. This information provides historians and cultural
archeologists with insight into what was important to people by
examining what they were prepared to perform in front of audiences.
Now, almost 30 years after the project originated, Somerset is actively
working on an Internet database containing REED's findings.
"I hope that when the Web site is completed, it will be an incredibly
rich resource," he says. "The problem with the volumes is that when you
want to ask a question, you have to look at every town; with the Web
site, you will be able to do it with three mouse clicks."
The Web site operates on a query search method and creates a live data
set tailored to the researchers. Instead of sifting through thousands of
pages, the REED site allows for the retrieval of information by entering
the name of the patron, event, venue or troupe. By so doing, one is able
to recover specific details, including how much troupes paid per
performance, or view an individual's family tree.
Still in its infancy, the Web site currently focuses only on data
relating to the county of Lancashire; however, as research pertaining to
other counties is reviewed and confirmed, it, too, will be added. With a
production team of more than 25, and scholars contributing from around
the world, the database will clearly continue to grow.
"Having an internationally-based team means we have the best brains in
the business, no matter where they are located," says Somerset.
The project has received financial support from the Social Sciences and
Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) and partner universities in Canada,
as well as from sources outside the country. With rising costs for the
Internet database - notably for bandwidth and server space - funding
plays a critical role in keeping the curtain from closing on the project.
Somerset is clearly not losing his interest in bringing information
about centuries-old drama to the forefront of technology:
"Shakespeare is a $125 million-a-year business - he's not going away any
For more information, please visit the REED Web site at:
[Note that the 24 REED volumes published to date are available as DjVu
facsimiles at Internet Archive:
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