Theatre in London has celebrated a rich and influential history, and in 1976 the first volume of J. P. Wearing’s reference series provided researchers with an indispensable resource of these productions. In the decades since the original calendars were produced, several research aids have become available, notably various reference works and the digitization of important newspapers and relevant periodicals.The second edition of The London Stage 1920–1929: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel provides a chronological calendar of London productions from the first of January, 1920, through the 31st of December, 1929. The volume chronicles more than 4,000 productions at 51 major central London theatres during this period. For each production the following information is provided:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Theatre
  4. Performers
  5. Personnel
  6. Opening and Closing Dates
  7. Number of Performances


Other details include genre of the production, number of acts, and a list of reviews. A comment section includes other interesting information about the production, such as plot description, first-night reception by the audience, noteworthy performances, staging elements, and details of performances in New York either prior to or after the London production.

Among the plays staged in London during this decade were Bulldog Drummond, The Emperor Jones, The Enchanted Cottage, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Hay Fever, Saint Joan, Six Characters in Search of an Author, as well as numerous musical comedies (British and American), foreign works, operas, and revivals of English classics.

A definitive resource, this edition revises, corrects, and expands the original calendar. In addition, approximately 20 percent of the material—in particular, information of adaptations and translations, plot sources, and comment information—is new. Arranged chronologically, the productions are fully indexed by title, genre, and theatre. A general index includes numerous subject entries on such topics as acting, audiences, censorship, costumes, managers, performers, prompters, staging, and ticket prices. The London Stage 1920-1929 will be of value to scholars, theatrical personnel, librarians, writers, journalists, and historians.

Review:

Opening a new or revised reference work is like opening an unearthed treasure. You never know what’s inside, but you know the baubles will bedazzle. The London Stage does not disappoint. Herewith each volume covers over 4,000 productions at more than three score theaters in the Bard’s hometown, so to speak. The tome—and it is a doorstopper weighing in at about seven pounds—provides first night details of plays over a decade, with one volume covering 1920-1929 and the second covering 1930-1939. Productions are arranged chronologically followed by the title of the work, genre, author, theater length of run, male and female cast members, production staff, plot précis, bibliography of reviews, and comment. The last ranges from what a reviewer might have thought, audience reception, and the like. Wearing gleaned the information from over a dozen specialized theater reviewing media, newspapers, nearly a dozen libraries and or archives, ranging from The British Library to Theatre Collection of Bristol University, and a half dozen specialized reference sources (e.g., Grove’s Who’s Who in Theatre). In other words, there may not be more comprehensive guides available. These works are a must-have for theater departments, and really any library interested in play productions.
American Reference Books Annual