Film & performing arts

Courtyard closures

As part of the Library's Vision 2020 redevelopment work, the Family History & Newspapers and Arts reading rooms will be closed from Friday 24 August to Thursday 20 September.

During this time, collection material, equipment and desks in these rooms will be unavailable. In many cases, alternative online or onsite access is available. For full details, see our research guide.

The reading rooms will reopen on Friday 21 September in beautiful new spaces in the Library's redeveloped eastern galleries.

Definitions of the performing arts have changed dramatically over the years. Where once the phrase referred primarily to the theatre, it now encompasses film, television, radio and all manner of performances that occur beyond the walls of traditional theatre buildings.

Our collection started out as a theatre studies collection and remains extremely strong in this area. It includes forms such as drama, opera, ballet, musical theatre, vaudeville, puppetry and magic. The collection covers not just western theatre traditions but also those of non-European cultures, including Japan, China, India and Africa.

Arguably today’s most pervasive and popular performing art exists on the screen, rather than the stage. Film and television studies have come a long way over the last few years and now encompass everything from works covering the career of Federico Fellini to feminist interpretations of Buffy the vampire slayer.

Books, magazines, electronic databases, theatre programmes and audiovisual material all help you to explore the rich and varied history of human performance, from earliest times to the thriving contemporary local and international scene. Whether on the stage, the screen, over the airwaves or even out on the street, the Library’s collection has plenty to offer those who love the performing arts in all of their many guises.