The Taiwan Shakespeare Database is an open-access online archive of Taiwan’s Shakespearean productions with both English and Chinese interfaces. It casts theatre works in historical and cultural context, presenting not only streaming video of performances with bilingual subtitles but also production background, interviews, publicity materials, designs, photos, news coverage, reviews, essays, and more. Data is annotated in English and Chinese: each production comes with a concise introduction and related materials are given a brief abstract too.
The Database constitutes a useful tool for researchers, teachers, and students alike. The Database is an ongoing project. Application tools for teaching and research are also being developed.
Shakespeare is far and away the most performed playwright in Taiwan, where he appears in the most varied colors: as realist drama, traditional opera, avant-garde experiments, musicals, and dance drama; in English, Mandarin, and a variety of dialects; at school auditoriums, outdoor parks, regional cultural centers, from small local stages to the grand National Theatre. Regrettably, many of these productions remain undocumented and unknown outside their immediate circles.
Thanks to digital technology, theatre performances can now traverse both time and space. Shakespeare is a well-established global language which enables scholars and artists from diverse cultures to communicate and collaborate. Currently there are several transnational projects on digital Shakespeare, from online bibliographies to performance archives.
The Taiwan Shakespeare Database is working in collaboration with MIT’s Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive, and the two databases are currently developing mutual links.
The mission of the Taiwan Shakespeare Database is to bring Taiwan’s Shakespearean theatre to the world stage and to supplement the existing record of world Shakespeares.
The Database aims to be both comprehensive and in-depth. Certainly high-profile, international productions deserve attention, but performances in small local theatres are also full of creativity and energy. Even productions by college students can cultivate future stars, as several early Database records testify.
The Taiwan Shakespeare Database not only provides the script and video of a theatrical performance, but also endeavors to reconstruct a production’s context, attending to information such as notes by the creative team, production background, and audience feedback. The materials brought to light by this project form a vivid cultural history of Taiwan.
Bi-qi Beatrice Lei received her Ph.D. from New York University. Her research features a global vision and local focus. Trained in the field of sixteenth-century English literature, she approaches early modern texts from intercultural and interdisciplinary perspectives, bridging page and stage, poetry and painting, and theatre and digital technology. She has published on Sidney, Shakespeare, theatre, film, television drama, and early modern medicine. To promote scholarly exchange and collaboration, she founded the Taiwan Shakespeare Association (TSA) and the Asian Shakespeare Association (ASA). She is currently the chairperson of the ASA and serves as a trustee for the International Shakespeare Association (ISA) and a member of the World Shakespeare Congress Committee. She has taught at National Tsing Hua University and National Taiwan University, and was a visiting scholar at Academia Sinica.
Research Center for Digital Humanities, NTU
Led by Director Hsiang Jieh, NTU’s Research Center for Digital Humanities is committed to creating a complete digital research environment, to preserving Taiwan’s unique and delicate cultural artifacts and historical resources, and to promoting research and digital information exchange. The center has already established 35 databases which comprise over 6,000,000 digital annotations (metadata), 30,000,000 images and 400 million words of original texts including Chinese documents from the Ming and Qing dynasties as well as old deeds of Taiwan. Also included are statistical reports and court archives from the period of Japanese occupation, archives of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, archives of the Taiwan Consultative Council and other institutes, newspaper clippings and old photographs. All of these materials showcase Taiwan’s abundant cultural heritage and enable researchers to investigate Taiwanese history from different perspectives. The center continues to expand its range of digital information, while dedicating resources to developing and implementing research tools in order to improve the effectiveness of information search and retrieval.
Peter S. Donaldson
Peter S. Donaldson received his MA from Cambridge and his PhD from Columbia University and is professor of English at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His two major research areas are Shakespeare on film and electronic projects involving Shakespeare across media. These include the Shakespeare Electronic Archive (http://shea.mit.edu), Hamlet on the Ramparts (http://shea.mit.edu/ramparts), XMAS: Cross-Media Annotation System (http://web.mit.edu/shakspere/xmas), and Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive (http://globalshakespeares.org). Donaldson is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK) and has held research fellowships from the NEH and ACLS.
The Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive (http://globalshakespeares.org) provides online access to Shakespearean performances from many parts of the world along with essays and metadata provided by scholars and educators in the field. The archive is a work in progress and currently includes a catalogue of more than 400 productions.
The Taiwan Shakespeare Database received the following grants for its development:
— International Team Exchange Grant, National Science Council, Executive Yuan (2010, one-year grant)
— Aim-at-Top-University Grant, National Taiwan University (2012, one-year grant)
— Aim-at-Top-University Grant, College of Liberal Arts, National Taiwan University (2013, one-year grant)
— Scholarly Website Grant, Research Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Council, Executive Yuan (2013, one-year grant)
— Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Council, Executive Yuan (2013, two-year grant)
Research Center for Digital Humanities, NTU
National Taiwan University
No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd.
Taipei, Taiwan 106
Republic of China