Understanding the Database
Below you find a list of all the data-fields used within the database. The list provides you will a summary of what the terms mean, and any decisions which have been made around how to record the data within the database. If you have any questions about this please get in touch.
Statement on Offensive and Harmful Language – Language used by the Examiners of Plays and by playwrights contain harmful terms, phrases, and attitudes which are racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist and otherwise offensive. Whilst this language is not consistent with our values on the project, it provides an insight into attitudes and ideas from the early twentieth-century. It has therefore not been altered and remains in its original form within the Examiner of Play’s Summaries and within scripts.
The Examiner of Plays – The job of the Examiner of Plays was to read each play and advise the Lord Chamberlain on whether it was fit to be performed. There were two Examiner of Plays during the Great War, George Street and Ernest Bendall. When looking at a play entry in the database you will find the name of the Examiner who licensed that play at the bottom of the ‘Examiner of Plays’ Comments’.
Titles – The title used for each play is the title which the play was licensed under. Occasionally play titles were changed by the playwright or by the Examiner, during the process of licensing. In other cases plays were licensed under one title but performed under a different title. Where other titles are associated with the play, these are given in square brackets and a clarification is provided in the ‘Researcher’s Summary’ section.
War-themed Plays – The decision over whether a play is war-themed has been made based on reading the script or the Examiner of Plays’ summary. It includes plays which are directly about the war, which have war references or songs in them. It also includes plays which are thematically connected to the war (e.g. plays which are about previous wars or relations with other nations).
Licensed Performance – Information on the licensed performance gives the theatre and date of the premiere performance which was listed when the script was licensed for performance. In most, but not all instances, this is after the date of licence. The licensed performance date is identified separately to other performances in the list of performances given for each play, because in some instances we have not been able to find evidence to prove that the licensed performance took place, or because after being licensed the play was then premiered at a different theatre. If the only performance showing for a play is the licensed performance, this is either because the performance history of the play has not yet been researched or because no performances of this play have been identified. In the latter case, a note will be given in the ‘Researcher’s Summary’ section.
Performances – Where a play has been researched all identified performances are listed here. Where possible, researchers have also listed whether the performance was given by a professional company, by amateurs, or by school groups. In some cases names of performers have also been included. Where newspapers have provided a useful commentary on performances, this information has been recorded by researchers. It will appear in a pop-up box when the user clicks on the ‘Read Narrative’ link.
Date of Licence – This is the date on which the script was licensed by the Lord Chamberlain. It is given on the Lord Chamberlain’s stamp, or where there is no stamp, in the Register of Licensed Plays. In most, but not all instances, the licence date is before the date of performance.
Genre – Where possible we have used the genre descriptor given either by the Examiner of Plays in their comments, or by the author themselves. In some cases the descriptor given is unusually phrased. For ease of searching and comparison, we have standardised these descriptors using more familiar terms e.g. comedy. Where no descriptor was available we have chosen the most appropriate generic descriptor.
Keywords – Keywords are not given in the original records or documents. Our research team has put together a list of keywords to assist in searching and browsing the database. These keywords chosen are based on the interests of the volunteers, the Project Lead, and what we hoped would be relevant to users of the database.
Names – Within the Lord Chamberlain’s records at the British Library the names of theatres and authors theatre appear with some variation across different plays. e.g. the Athenaeum in Glasgow appears as both the Athenaeum Theatre and the Athenaeum Hall. For the purposes of database searching we have standardised the names for each theatre and person. As of December 2020 this process is largely but not entirely complete. If you would like to know where this has happened, please contact us and we can provide the original data transcription.
By clicking on the name of a theatre or person, you will be taken to the theatre or person’s page. In the case of a theatre, this page lists any performances in the database which have been identified as taking place at that theatre. In the case of a person, the page lists all the plays in the database that they wrote, performed in, or produced. Where an individual has been researched, biographical information will also be provided here. If a person has been researched but no information has been found, this will be noted here.
Theatre Locations – From late 2020 we have begun introducing a new mapping function to the website. Once fully implemented, this will enable users to see the location of each theatre via an ‘Open Streetmap’ plugin. The locations will be mapped using Theatres Trust location data and longitude/ latitude co-ordinates. Whilst this is being implemented, you will sometimes be able to see details on a theatre’s location but we recommend only using this for general information. Please contact us if you would like more specific information.
Where extensive research has been undertaken but the death of the author has not been identified, selected works have been submitted for registration under the EU Orphan Works scheme (up to December 2020). In these cases the play’s copyright will show as ‘Orphan Work’. Where a script is downloadable via the website, you can use it under the terms listed. Where a work has not yet been registered as an Orphan Work the rights status will not be visible.
Where a play has been identified as being in copyright, this will be shown. A script will only be available if the rights holder has given permission. In these cases the script is made available to users for non-commercial purposes only under the terms of a Creative Commons NonCommercial NoDrivatives licence. All rights holders retain their copyright.
There is an ongoing process of identifying copyright for plays so please get in touch with us if there is a particular author you are interested in.
Author Gender – Where possible we have identified the gender of the author within the database. This enables users to search for male or female playwrights. Where only initials are given, or the name does not indicate the gender, we have put ‘unknown’. In most cases the assignment of gender to the author has been based on the name and newspaper research. There may therefore be instances where women were using pseudonyms but this has not yet been identified.
Examiner of Plays’ Summary – The Examiner of Plays’ Summary is transcribed directly from the records in the British Library Manuscripts Collection. It is the summary of the play written by the Examiner after reading the play. In it they summarise the plot and identify any issues regarding licensing. Summaries have been transcribed for all war-themed plays, but only for some plays which are not war-themed. This is due to the volume of plays being covered by the project, with priority being given to war-themed ones. Where summaries are only available in handwritten form they have not always been transcribed. Please note the statement on Offensive and Harmful language above.
Reference – This is the reference for the box in which the play is stored at the British Library. It is also the reference you need in order to read the play at the British Library Manuscript Reading Rooms, St Pancras (see reading the original play). An example is: LCP1914/28. LCP stands for Lord Chamberlains’ Plays (i.e. the collection at the British Library). This is followed by the year the play was licensed (1914 in this example) and the box number (28 in this example). Originally, when the plays were licensed by the Lord Chamberlain’s office they were bound together in volumes. Today, most of the plays have gone through a process of preservation at the British Library. Instead of being bound in volumes, they are now stored in individual folders (one per play) in a box. The box retains the same number as the original volume.
Classmark – This is the manuscript classmark given to each play at the British Library. Each play has its own individual classmark. It will be a number followed by a letter, e.g. 66124 C. The number will be the same for every play in the same box. However each play within the box will have a different letter, based on the order in which the plays were originally licensed.