MITH is very pleased to announce its receipt of another NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up award, this time for the The Electronic Broadway Project, to be directed by DOUG RESIDE. This is MITH’s third DH Start-Up and the second for Dr. Reside in what is an increasingly competitive program—this past round, only about 14% of applicants were funded.
The Electronic Broadway project will create an interface for electronic editions of musical theater texts and, as a prototype, develop an electronic edition of the new Broadway musical Glory Days. We hope, with this project, to encourage a reconsideration of the definition of the “edition” in the field of the performing arts. We will also explore, in this project, the problem of editing a text that was mostly composed electronically. Like so many new literary works, Glory Days was written using digital tools (Word processors, digital music recorders, etc.) and so the primary sources are, in many cases, preserved as bits on magnetic media rather than as ink on paper. The creative team often collaborated via instant messages and email (many of which have been preserved) thereby creating a record of the creative process theater historians of earlier periods would envy. The creators kept meticulous archives of the various versions of their script during rehearsals, and so the work of the critical editor lies in organizing and collating electronic, rather than manuscript drafts (a process which will become increasingly common in the future of editing and textual criticism). This project will seek to provide solutions to these new editorial problems.
According to RESIDE, “The Digital Humanities has, until very recently, been a very text-centric field, which has exploited the multimedial powers of modern computers in only superficial ways. A performance text, particularly a musical theater performance text, however, is intended to communicate through the simultaneous expression of verbal, musical, and terpsichorean languages and cannot be easily reduced to print. We hope to provide a new and better way for scholars to approach this exceptionally multimedial artform.” MITH Director NEIL FRAISTAT adds, “This grant promises to change the way that musical theatre is both documented and studied in the classroom, and it is only the first of a series of exciting new MITH initiatives in the performing arts, all under the very capable leadership of our assistant director, Doug Reside.”