Prompt Books

example of 19th century promptbookA prompt book is a copy of a script that has been marked up for a specific production. It usually includes cues for the movement of performers and set pieces, lighting, sound effects, and music. Prompt books also often include lists of the props and cast. Prompt books created as souvenirs of a production (known as memorial prompt books) might include photographs, drawings of the set, and other memorabilia.  Modern prompt books also tend to include contact information for the cast and crew.

Prompt books were originally kept by prompters, who stood off stage to give cues to actors as needed. Today they're generally kept by the stage manager and thus are sometimes called the stage manager's book. They are also known as the production bible, or simply the book.

Closely related to prompt books are actors' sides, which are one performer's lines abstracted from the script to aid in learning the part. These can also include cues.

Acting editions are published copies of a play text with staging and other cues provided. The intended audience are companies or amateurs putting on a production of the play. Often, the version of the staging printed is that of a specific, famous production. Companies can then add their own manuscript edits to an acting edition in order to document their own staging, thus creating a prompt book for their production.

Stage guides document a specific musical production, generally opera. They include cuts made to the score and book, as well as a number of highly technical details.

Searching for Prompt Books and Related Formats

To search for prompt books, go to the Advanced Search page in HOLLIS. Select Library Catalog from the Search for: options, change Keywords Anywhere to Form/Genre in the dropdown menu next to the first search box, and enter promptbooks. In the second search box enter the production title, company name, name of the playwright, stage manager, prompter, or actor you wish to search for:

search as described above, using American Repertory Theater as the second search term

To search for acting editions, enter acting editions as the form/genre term rather than promptbooks. To search for stage guides, change Form/Genre to Subject and enter stage guides as the search term.