The Theatre Royal’s fascinating 153-year history is now available to explore online via ourtheatreroyal.org thanks to National Lottery players.
Over the past two years, the Theatre Royal’s Creative Learning Team has worked in partnership with the University of Nottingham on a major archive and heritage project entitled Our Theatre Royal Nottingham: Its Stories, People & Heritage, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Today, the team launch an innovative new digital archive documenting 153 years of theatrical history at the venue.
Working alongside professional archivists, researchers and trainers, 65 community volunteers have transformed the venue’s existing archive room, discovering lost stories, programmes, posters, letters and photos, delved deep into Theatre Royal research across Nottingham and recorded interviews with many people connected to this iconic theatre. Internet users can now freely access this fascinating and broad-ranging archive material in one central place, www.ourtheatreroyal.org.
Supported by the work of researchers at the University of Nottingham, the Theatre Royal’s new digital archive guides users through the venue’s history, either chronologically via a timeline or by exploring broader themes such as Pantomime, Theatre During the Wars, Onstage & Backstage and Building the Theatre.
As well as historic posters, programmes, playbills, letters and postcards from the late 19th century onwards, many of the hundreds of items already uploaded to the website are rare and previously unseen.
Just a handful of examples include personal drawings and plans from the architect and designer who undertook the massive re-building of the venue in the 1970s; handwritten comments from a 1930s visitor’s book for theatrical digs; a first-hand account of being in the audience for Jimi Hendrix’s legendary 1967 Theatre Royal concert; and actors sharing their backstage stories and anecdotes. The digital archive allows users to explore these fascinating artefacts and to delve deeper via related links on each website page.
David Longford, Creative Learning Manager at the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, has led the archive project from the start. Today, he said; “The Theatre Royal’s 150th anniversary in 2015 kick-started our much-needed heritage programme and I am delighted to be able to launch our theatre’s digital archive today.
“Our intention was always to make this resource more than just a chronological history of the Theatre Royal, but rather an opportunity for us to tell stories about our past and for people to explore our history through the many related links on the site.
“I cannot thank enough all the volunteers, staff and supporters who have helped us bring our digital archive to life, and the Heritage Lottery Fund for the award, made possible by National Lottery players. Our aim is for the archive to grow and grow as we continually upload more material. There will be plenty more for users to see and listen to on each return visit.”
Anyone with stories or artefacts to contribute to the Theatre Royal’s on-going archive project can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.