Development Blog

Script genre and categorisation

6:11pm, 17th May 2009

One of the things which has been given a lot of thought over the last couple of weeks is how to categorise the scripts within our system.  While I’m sure that as our library of work gets larger we’ll find that writers themselves begin to create ‘communities’ of work, we still need some means of organising the scripts both for our internal systems and to make browsing available work a little easier for visitors, especially if they’re not sure quite what they’re looking for!

The first question: to what level should we break down our basic categories?  Our first attempts used general top level categories — Musical Theatre & Opera; Comedy; Tragedy, etc. — and then broke those down into one level of sub-categories — Light Opera, Traditional; Black Comedy, Farce; and so on.  This worked initially, but given there’s almost an infinate number of different sub-genre it seemed crazy to try to choose which sub-categories we should use.  So it seemed logical to stick with just the top-level categories.

Which throws up another (albeit similar) question: how do you decide what is a major genre and what is a sub-genre?  There are some obvious ones here.  Comedy, Tragedy, Romance are all obvious top level themes.  Types of theatre also gives us an important set of categories including Straight, Musical and Pantomime.  Additionally the target audience — children, young people –  gives us a few categories, as does the length of the piece — one act, sketch, etc.  One thing we have chosen to ignore with the general categories is the make up of the cast itself: while this is important, we feel this can be covered as part of the advanced search system and script details pages far enough to ensure scripts found match the producer’s company profile.

Finally, it’s important to bear in mind that when uploading scripts we will ask writers to describe their work however they see fit.  We will ask which genre they feel the work fits in to (and allow authors to select more than one), as well as allowing authors suggest new top-level categories which will be manually reviewed and, if it seems there is a good case for adding the new category, it will be added.  Additionally we will offer the ability for all uploaded works to be tagged with whatever key words the author feels apropriate, and we will specifically encorage writers to add specialist genre to this list.  While at this stage we don’t plan for key words to play a large part in the site browsing experience (although we may add browse filters based on tags in the future), it will be a key factor in the search mechanism.

I will post our proposed category structure shortly, but in the mean time I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter:

What is The Stage Library?

1:44am, 14th April 2009

This is something I’ve been trying to tie down myself for the last couple of days: exactly how would I describe the site to someone who’d never visited it before?

Well, I think I’ve got it now:

The Stage Library is a valuable resource for those people involved with creating performance works.  It brings new and independent writers together with a wide spectrum of producers.

Over the next week or so I’m going to try to get that down in a proper mission statement, but in the mean time here is what I hope will be the benefits for both writers and producers.

For Writers

Writers will be able to publish their works quickly and easily making it available to wide range of producers and directors.  Writers will retain full copyright of their work and will have direct control over the licence their work is published under, this includes setting the price for individual manuscripts, full cast sets and performance rights.  Writers will get their own page on The Stage Library allowing producers interested in their work to browse all their published scripts, as well as carrying additional biographical information and optional contact details.  We also plan to launch services enabling writers to have their work published for sale in both traditional and online bookshops as well as a service allowing producers to commission writers to create specific works for them.  More details on these services will follow.

For producers

Producers will be able to search a wide variety of work covering a range of different performance genre.  They will have the ability to sample scripts prior to purchasing full copies, as well as licence works for performance directly off the author.  The Stage Library will give producers access to fresh talent and new unperformed works, as well as more established writers and scripts with a tried and tested track record.  Our system will also learn your search preferences and recommend new writers and scripts to you to help take the headache out of choosing your next performance piece.  We also have plans to launch a service connecting producers looking to commission special works to appropriate writers available to take on such jobs.

I know there’s a long way to go to realise these aims, but I hope you will stick with us through launch and as the site develops and grows.  I’ll be writing about developments and ideas on this blog so please do come back to see how things are coming on in the next few weeks before testing and launch.  I’d also really like to hear your views and ideas to — I look forward to reading your email.

Edit: We’ve created a planned feature list to keep track of things while developing the site and give you an idea of the features to come.  This will be kept updated so you can follow the progress.  I hope to integrate this into the site itself shortly, but for now it can be found here: