The theatre collection
In the theatre collection, you will find material on a wide range of performing arts, such as dance, theatre, performance art, circus and opera.
We collect and preserve documentation of the Danish performing arts. These can be, for example, unpublished plays, role sheets, instruction books, performance material and personal archives from prominent Danish performing artists.
Understand the collection
You can not put a performance in an archive box and store it, which is why our collection consists of different forms of documentation. The documentation is either focused on the work, the experience of the work, the creation process or the framework around the performance creation.
Since its establishment in 1939, our collection policy for acting and performing arts has changed from being focused on theatrical manuscripts to being focused on four types of documentation as well as on performing arts in a broader sense.
This means that performing arts-related material is collected for the theatre collection today, where parts of the material have previously been placed in another of the library's collections. Performing arts-related material is therefore spread out across our collections.
We recommend that you do a free text search in the library system and subsequently narrow down the types of material listed on the left. You can get help in "Get help finding plays and performing arts material" and in the overview of the collection.
Remember that all material must be ordered in advance!
Below we have gathered some of the most frequently used sources and where to find them. As a starting point, the materials must be viewed in the Research Reading Room:
Start by searching Mediestream. If you can not find the review there, it is because the newspaper is not digitised. Instead, read reviews on microfilm at the Reading Room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen or in the microfilm readers on Victor Albecks Vej, Aarhus.
In 2008, Gentofte Hovedbibliotek donated a very large collection of clippings of theatre reviews collected from 1950-2000. The clippings are arranged alphabetically by performance title and are distributed in 70 index boxes with approximately 80 performance envelopes in each. The material is arranged in two main groups:
- drama and ballet performances and
- opera and musical performances.
Both the manuscript collection and the theatre collection have scrapbooks from a number of theatres.
Blog reviews are archived in the online archive.
Available in both the theatre collection, the manuscript collection, the map collection and the prints and photographs collection. The photographs in the map collection and the prints and photographs collection are partly registered in the library system.
Below is a list of relevant sub-collections.
- Holger Damgaard's (1870-1940) theatre photographs: Stage photographs from Copenhagen theateres taken by Holger Damgaard 1909-1940. Organised after theatres.
- Klaus Lindewald (1935-1986). Extensive collection of positives and negatives from Lindewald's work as a theatre photographer at a number of theatres in Copenhagen. The photographs depict both the work prior to the performances and the final result on stage. Positives and contact prints are archived under the respective theatres, alphabetically by performance (including Det Ny Teater, Gladsaxe Teater, Folketeatret, Det Danske Teater).
- HJ Mydtskov (1887-1973), Jørgen Mydtskov (1931-2011) and Rigmor Mydtskov (1925-2010). Theatre photographs from the period 1931-1964 taken by HJ Mydtskov and his son Jørgen Mydtskov with alphabetical registrant.
- The Royal Danish Opera. Discarded stage photographs from the Royal Danish Opera's archive approximately 1930-1965. Organised after performances.
- Danish photographs and theatre decorations. Object pictures, scrapbooks, puppet theatre. Registrant for Alfred Jacobsen's publications can be found.
- The Theatre Museum's collection. Photos from a number of performances at Danish theatres:
- Café Teatret (1969-78, including from the French Studio Scene and the drama school),
- Casino (1916-19),
- Dansk Skolescene (slide from Thomas P. Hjejle 1924-38),
- Helsingør Sommerteater (1914-49),
- The Royal Danish Opera (1904-60, including scenography and decoration photos and a number of ballet pictures),
- Det Ny Scala (1966-72),
- Det Ny Teater (1908-27),
- Folketeatret (ca. 1912-30),
- Jørgen Blaksted Turneen (1970-98),
- Nørrebro (1980erne),
- Odense Teater (1896-1935),
- Rialto (1980-2005),
- Scala (1970-83),
- Aarhus (1952-63)
- as well as individual performances at various theatres
You can search for the material from the Theatre Museum in the library system by searching with the name of the theatre and "Theatre Museum" and with a delimitation to the prints and photographs collection.
Find theatre photographs and drawings here.
The miscellaneous collection in the prints and photographs collection includes stage and scenery photographs (see for example also Danish photographs and puppet theatre decorations), stage and grandstand artists (not identifiable) and theatre posters (theatre posters in general can also be found in the pamphlets and corporate publications collection).
Available in the theatre collection. Larger sub-collections include Copenhagen International Theatre with especially new circus and experimental theatre as well as the Dance Archive.
You can see the material at the Research Reading Room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen.
The material is ordered for review at the Research Reading Room by writing to Ask the Library. Please provide as much information as possible.
You can find radio plays on Mediestream.
We regularly receive personal archives from Danish performing artists. Personal archives typically contain working papers, correspondence, scrapbooks and other private materials.
Actors such as Bodil Kjer, Preben Harris, Stig Lommer, Henning Moritzen, Asta Nielsen and Poul Reumert all have their personal archive with us.
You can also find personal files in the manuscript collection. However, it is mainly from older performing artists such as:
- Kjeld Abell
- Hans Christian Andersen
- Herman Bang
- Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
- William Bloch
- August Bournonville
- Edvard Brandes
- Johannes Ewald
- Johan Ludvig Heiberg
- Johanne Luise Heiberg
- Poul Henningsen
- Henrik Hertz
- Ludvig Holberg
- Henrik Ibsen
- Harald Lander
- And Munk
- Adam Oehlenschläger
Should you not find what you are looking for, please feel free to contact us via Ask the library.
Located across the library's collections. Search for the title in the library system and delimit to "books".
Located under various archives across the collections.
You can search by artist, institution or performance name in the library system.
We have digitised a large part of our material with opera and music for theatre performances, which you can find here:
- Danish Theatre Music - approximately 1750-1900
- August Bournonville's ballets - printed notes from the 19th century
- Copenhagen Summer Revues 1876-1900 - sheet music and lyrics
- Music for the Royal Danish Opera's earliest repertoire
Found primarily in the theatre collection, but they are also found in the manuscript collection.
At the Research Reading Room in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen, there are approximately 500 theatre manuscripts, the so-called study collection, which can be used in the reading room without reserving the material beforehand.
It appears in the entry in the library system whether a manuscript is available in the reading room or must be ordered. Remember to delimit the search to "manuscripts" as material.
More about the collection
The collection covers performing arts broadly. This means that both dance, theatre, performance art, circus and opera is represented. We also purchase recent dramatic literature in English, German and French. Other languages can be ordered on request.
We have about 30,000 play texts in script form. Most are written by Danish playwrights or are in Danish translations. In addition, we have approximately 20,000 printed play texts that are mainly foreign.
We also have an increasing number of performing arts archives from existing and former stages and groups. In the archives you will find performance material, press clippings, administration papers, correspondence, accounts, AV material, photographs and much more.
Since the mid-1960s, we have also systematically collected theatre manuscripts from all major Danish theatres, including the Radio and TV Theatre, and this means that almost 50 Danish theatres regularly transfer their repertoire to the library. Today we collect drama from all theatres.