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THEATRE 318: Scene Design: Home

Research for Scene Design

Welcome. This guide is intended as a "home base" for research for Theatre 318: Scene Design.

During our session in the library, we will use this page and this Padlet as starting points. 

I was not able to put the two books I brought to class on reserve, since they are from a different campus. I went ahead and returned them so that one of you can request them, if you like! The items were:


Documenting and Sharing Your Set Research - Video

Documenting and Sharing Your Set Research

Keeping track of where you found your research images and information is important: you want to be able to share information with collaborators, find more details if needed, verify information, and avoid issues with copyright.

While you'll rarely need to use a specific citation style in a professional setting, having a consistent way of keeping track of your sources can help you return to them later, and give credit if needed. Plus, it will save you time if you need to relocate the same material for a related show in the future. Some approaches might be:

  • a private Pinterest board with links to original sources
  • a spreadsheet for source links or titles
  • a physical folder of images, copies, and printouts, with basic source information jotted on the back.

Exploratory Research - Video

Exploratory Research

Some research may be very focused, led by specific questions or artistic problems. Other times, you may approach research in a less focused way. Some tips for exploratory research:

  • go to libraries and museums associated with the general time/place/community you're interested in. Physical interaction with materials and spaces may give you different insights than 2D images online or in books. For the loose 19th century setting of The Moors, this could include historic house museums and museum exhibits of 19th century art and design, or materials in the UWM Library's special collections. 
  • Visit the relevant areas of the library and browse the shelves. Since books are organized by topic, you'll be able to find lots of relevant sources that might not come up in your first searches. 
  • Read books and articles related to the topic, rather than only looking for pictures. Look at the citations for ideas of other sources to investigate.
  • Go to websites of organizations or museums devoted to particular topics or regions and browse images.
  • Use Google Maps streetview or real estate sites like Zillow and "walk" the neighborhoods and houses in the relevant communities.


Focused Inquiry - Video

Focused Inquiry

As you work toward a design, you may also have specific questions or problems that go beyond finding inspiration or a visual language. For example, you may need to know historical details about architecture and design, literary analysis of the play or related works, or technical information about potential materials. Those questions may be best answered through research in libraries and databases, where you have the ability to refine your search terms and access detailed information and analysis. For theatre design research, you may particularly want to check out these tools and databases: