In 1973, The London Stage 1800-1900: A Documentary Record and Calendar of Performances was founded by Joseph Donohue (University of Massachusetts Amherst) and James Ellis (Mount Holyoke College) to organize and collect information about the variety of theatrical and theatre-related activities occurring in London over the course of the century. A database language called INFOL-2 was chosen to store the information. In its day, this was an advanced program, but it required careful submission of data. Each separate entry was given a number that had to be preceded and followed by an asterisk. It took the General Editors three years to produce the Handbook for Compilers because every facet of performance had to be considered and coded. (The "Handbook for Compilers," the input parameter files and INFOL-2 files may be accessed from the opening page of the Book Version.) Unfortunately, what the human eye could differentiate, the computer sometimes could not, and much complex programming was required to update the previous version of the Calendar. Once again, the project is indebted to the indefatigable Theodore Seward, our systems analyst.
The commencement of the Adelphi Calendar project may be dated to the publication of an announcement by Donohue and Ellis in the first edition of Nineteenth Century Theatre Research (I, 1, Spring 1973), 53-56. It was titled "The London Stage 1800-1900: An Immodest Proposal." Here they said: "We envisage a calendar modeled on The London Stage 1660-1800, which took more than thirty years …" (53) and "Two things should emerge from the elaboration of this immodest proposal: The necessity to proceed methodically and cautiously in the initial planning, and the necessity for the broad-based support for the project once it is under way" (56). (Similar announcements appeared in Victorian Studies, Theatre Notebook, Theatre Research, Computers and the Humanities and PMLA.)
The General Editors of the London Stage 1800-1900 selected the Adelphi Theatre for the first calendar as there were sufficient playbills and programs to produce a detailed record of theatrical activity. The house, born in 1806 as the Sans Pareil, became the Adelphi in 1819 and is today partly owned by Lord Webber.
In the 1970s, English and drama departments were not known for their use of computers. The contributing editors were to type their entries on sheets of paper and send them to the General Editors who would then convert them to OCR format and scan them into the UMass computer. Eventually, all editors had Selectric typewriters, which allowed them to use an OCR type ball. Next, some editors began using their university's main frames, where they were regarded as rarae aves and treated with indulgence as reams of paper spewed from the printers.
The desktop computer explosion saw every university department purchasing computers for faculty members, but by that time, the contributing editors had gained and lost members. Alfred Nelson and Gilbert Cross, of Eastern Michigan University, were appointed heads of the Adelphi Calendar Project. It was they who asked Theodore Seward, a computer major, if he could help speed up their data entry. This was the beginning of a long-lasting, fruitful partnership. Soon Mr. Seward became the systems analyst and wrote the two programs that eventually generated data in INFOL-2 format.
Years passed; Mr. Seward moved on to work for the Northrop Grumman Corporation and helped their B-2 bomber program, all the while devoting his spare time to the problems of the Adelphi Calendar. When all the data for the first half of the century had been compiled, Greenwood Press published them in 1988 as The Sans Pareil Theatre 1806-1819, Adelphi Theatre 1819-1850: An Index to Authors, Titles, and Performers. Just before Alfred L. Nelson passed away in 1993, the project was completed (after twenty years), and I had the pleasure of handing him The Adelphi Theatre 1850-1900: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers and Management. These publications contained typescripts of the indexes and microfiche of the Daily Calendar data. An online version of the complete calendar was eventually hosted by Eastern Michigan University.
All those involved in constructing the Calendar are well aware of its limitations. Many of us regarded it as an opening salvo. We hoped others would fill in gaps as new sources were discovered. Traditionally, two weekly playbills were published, one on Monday and a second on Thursday to cover six days' performances. They were flimsy and "odiferous." Later, programs replaced bills, but they had their particular problems. For one thing, they were too expensive to reprint if an actor was indisposed. In short, editors had nothing like complete seasonal runs, so performances had to be assumed. The computer program "filled in" days where no source existed, but playbills are continually being unearthed, and I hope some theatre historian or team of scholars will come forward and undertake an extensive revision. Moreover, there are many other theatre calendars waiting to be undertaken.
Recently, the University of Massachusetts undertook the hosting of the Calendar at www.umass.edu/AdelphiTheatreCalendar. At this time, the Book Version was added.
The idea was to make it possible for users to download parts of the Calendar with ease. Versions in XML, PDF, Doc and Docx formats were prepared. At the same time, a Creative Commons license was added, which gave the scholar certain rights. The user can "copy, distribute and transmit the work" and "adapt" it. In return, the user has to "attribute the work" to its authors and cannot use the Calendar for "commercial purposes."
Theodore Seward, the systems analyst, made a further suggestion: if we were undertaking a revision, why not expand the section of contemporary graphics of performers and performances? He purchased over a hundred pages of images of performances at the Adelphi (and a few more attached to them). His idea was to link these engravings to the night of the first performance of a piece. Thus, the user could see a scene from the production and often identify the actors. The results more than justify their inclusion. They are the only pictorial representatives of plays and performers of a bygone age.
Although The University of Massachusetts Amherst currently hosts the Adelphi Calendar, members of the current team, who have now completed their task and are not consistently able to watch over the project, realize it is wise and prudent to have more than one copy of a database of this size and complexity available. We encourage additional free hosting by any reputable educational institution.
There are two versions of the Calendar--"Online" and "Book." Both contain the same information but are designed with different users in mind. To make both databases less unwieldy, they are subdivided. The Online layout consists of fourteen pages: Daily Calendars, Home Page, Editorial Page, Authors and Titles, Actors and Actresses, Composers, Music and Song, Musicians and Singers, Dance, Entertainments and Spectacles, Management and Backstage, All-Inclusive Index, Bibliography, Graphics Gallery, Theatre Research, and Adelphi Today. There is an icon linking to the "Book Version." Because of their digital nature, each HTML page of the Adelphi Calendar may be searched using the browser's "Find" command, and every file contains a table of contents for easier navigation.
The Book format was added when the University of Massachusetts Amherst undertook the hosting of the Calendar in 2012. There are fourteen volumes designed to facilitate scholarship. Users may download any part of the calendar for research purposes (either in Microsoft Word format or as a PDF). A Creative Commons license allows scholars "to copy, distribute, and transmit the work and adapt the work." The Book version is presented in two formats: PDF and Microsoft Word. There is also an XML file with all the calendar data.
The volumes in the Book Version are as follows:
1. Sans Pareil/Adelphi Theatres—Curtain Up: 1806-1899 2. Sans Pareil/Adelphi Theatres—Seasonal Digests: 1806-1899. 3. Sans Pareil/Adelphi Theatres—Seasonal Summaries: 1806-1849. 4. Adelphi Theatre—Seasonal Summaries: 1850-1899. 5. Sans Pareil Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1806-1818. 6. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1819-1829. 7. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1830-1839. 8. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1840-1849. 9. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1850-1859. 10. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1860-1869. 11. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1870-1879. 12. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1880-1889. 13. Adelphi Theatre—Daily Calendars: 1890-1899. 14. Sans Pareil/Adelphi Theatres—All Inclusive Index: 1806-1899
Book 1 contains all the individual indexes form the online Version. It is dedicated to Alfred L. Nelson and Franklin Case of Eastern Michigan University who devoted untold hours to the Adelphi Calendar Project. It presents a brief history of the project, lists the editors and their affiliations, and explains the abbreviations used throughout the Calendar. The first index is the Authors and Titles Index, which contains all authors and titles of pieces performed at the Adelphi. The second lists all actors and actresses. The third index is of composers and titles of music and song. The final index is of the theatre’s management and back stage personnel. It concludes with a bibliography of resources employed by editors, acknowledgements, and a section on contacting the remaining General Editors.
Book 2 contains seasonal digests. Each of them is designed to give an overall "feel" for the ninety-nine seasons the theatre was open. If possible, there are plot summaries, critiques of the pieces or players, and scenery descriptions. Editors sought to "sum up" the season as a whole. Anything significant, such as a change in management, Dion Boucicault's invention of the royalty system in 1860, or the introduction of electric lighting early in 1882, is in the digests.
Books 3 and 4 are devoted to seasonal summaries. The computer generates these. The summaries contain, inter alia, three main indexes: author/title, actor/role, and summary cast lists. The last of these gives all actors by name, the roles they played, and a "window date" of the first and last time they appeared in the role.
Books 5 through 13 contain the daily calendars. Book 5 contains all the daily calendars from the Sans Pareil Theatre. Each of the remaining books contains a decade of daily calendars. There is an entry for every day the theatre was open.
Book 14 contains the All-Inclusive Index. Here may be found every author and title and every person employed at the Sans/Pareil Adelphi Theatre from 1806 to 1900.
Across the top of this page are fifteen icons. They are links to:
|Daily Calendars||The heart of the project lies here. Ninety-nine seasons are analyzed and indexed. Five are of visiting theatres—Covent Garden (2) and the English Opera House (3). Following a digest of each season is a daily record listing every play, author, role-actor pair, composer, singer, dancer, front and backstage person plus any miscellaneous data. Sources permitting, it is possible to state on what days a piece was played, who appeared in which role, who sang or danced, and often what scenery was constructed and by whom.|
|Home Page||Current page.|
|Editorial Page||Contains a dedication to Alfred L. Nelson, co-general Director of the Adelphi Calendar Project, a dedication to Franklin Case, co-general editor, acknowledgements, editors' names with the seasons they prepared, plus symbols and abbreviations used throughout the Adelphi Calendar.|
|Authors & Titles||Is a complete alphabetical listing of pieces, authors, composers, translators, titles and subtitles, dates performed, seasons played, etc. (Extensive reference has been made to Nicoll's History.)|
|Actors & Actresses||Lists every actor who appeared at the Sans Pareil/Adelphi with the seasons in which he or she played.|
|Composers, Music & Song||Lists music and song by title with composers and singers who appeared at the Sans Pareil/Adelphi with the seasons in which he or she played.|
|Musicians & Singers||Lists alphabetically all musicians and singers who appeared at the Adelphi in a single index.|
|Dance, Entertainment & Spectacles||There are separate indexes for dance, entertainment and spectacle with names and dates. A fourth index combines them. (Ballet choreographers are in the Authors and Titles Index).|
|Management & Back Stage||Consists of front of the house and backstage personnel collected from the sources. It does not include material from elsewhere. Two indexes are supplied, one by name and one by function.|
|All-Inclusive Index||Index of all the personnel who appeared at the Adelphi in any capacity (performers, management, backstage). Also includes authors and composers of all pieces performed and titles of plays, songs, dances, music.|
|Bibliography||Contains only those works of particular use in this project. It also lists all the graphics in an iconography.|
|Graphics Gallery||Here we display over two hundred illustrations of performers and productions taken from contemporary publications, chiefly the Illustrated London News.|
Consists of lists of theatre collections, journals and other resources. It is the Director's hope scholars will contribute by adding to this section. (Contact him at email@example.com.)
|Adelphi Today||Brings the reader full circle. Unlike so many playhouses of nineteenth-century England, the Adelphi flourished and is now part of the Really Useful Group. The official website of the theatre is reached via a link here. There are also links to other websites, which will provide an up-to-date picture of theatre activity in London, especially the West End. A section devoted to Other Websites recognizes the work of other enthusiasts and scholars who share our love of Miss Scott's wonderful house. A final link returns the researcher to our Adelphi Calendar.|
PDF and Word Downloads
|Top of Page||Occurs at the bottom of the page on the far left. When selected, it takes the user to the top of the page.|
|Site Map||Occurs at the bottom of the page on the far right. It brings up an index of all the pages. Users may jump to a given page directly by selecting the title.|
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|Copyright © 1988, 1992, 2013 and 2016 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.|
|Originally published by Greenwood Press as The Sans Pareil Theatre 1806-1819, Adelphi Theatre 1819-1850: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers, 1988, and The Adelphi Theatre 1850-1900: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers and Management, 1992.|
|The Adelphi Theatre Calendar revised, reconstructed and amplified. Copyright © 2013 and 2016 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License, with the exception of graphics from The Clip Art Book, edited by Gerard Quinn and published by Crescent in 1990. These images are reproduced in accord with the publisher’s note, which states "The Clip Art Book is a new compilation of illustrations that are in the public domain. The individual illustrations are copyright free and may be reproduced without permission or payment. However, the selection of illustrations and their layout is the copyright of the publisher, so that one page or more may not be photocopied or reproduced without first contacting the publishers."|