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: