Theatre and Performance

Curtain up for the Theatre and Performance blog. This is the place to find out about our news, explore the breadth and depth of the V&A’s Theatre and Performance collections, explore new acquisitions and hear first, when collections are catalogued and available for research in our Reading Room.

In this section we want to share information about what our team does, highlight our discoveries and how we look after the exciting V&A Theatre and Performance collections.

The Department of Theatre and Performance is the UK’s national collection for the performing arts, which was founded in 1924, when a private collector, Gabrielle Enthoven donated her extensive collection of theatrical designs, memorabilia, books and photographs to the V&A. Since then the collection has continued to grow covering all areas of the live performing arts in the UK and is now one of the largest of its kind in the world.

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Dames on Display!

To celebrate National Panto Day, Curator Cathy Haill looks at the Pantomime Dame costumes new to the display in Theatre and Performance Galleries. Installing recent acquisitions in the galleries is always a delight, especially when you can invite people associated with them to meet the staff who have worked on them, and see them on […]

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Christmas Crackers and Festive Flops – What’s the formula for the ultimate Christmas Number One?

Assistant Curators, Alice Young and Harriet Reed, explore the history of the Christmas Number One. Waiting to hear who has reached the Christmas number one – the song that tops the UK Singles Chart on Christmas Day – has become an annual British tradition. Ever since the creation of the UK Singles Chart in 1952 […]

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65 Years of The Mousetrap

Curator of Printed Books and Manuscripts, Beverley Hart, celebrates 65 years of The Mousetrap in London’s West End. The age of 65 has until recently been associated in the UK with retirement, but one West End veteran shows no signs of putting its feet up any time soon. The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie’s most famous play, […]

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Journey’s End: Remembering the First World War

At times of great social upheaval, the arts help society understand events, deal with complex emotions and recover from collective trauma. As we enter the final year of commemorations marking 100 years since the end of the First World, the conflict continues to have a significant presence on the UK stage. Recent years have seen […]

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Still Tickling the Nation: Ken Dodd at 90

Sir Ken Dodd is one of the UK’s greatest comedians and entertainers. Today he celebrates his 90th birthday and can still be seen performing in theatres up and down the UK bringing happiness to all with his trusted Tickling Stick and Diddymen. Senior Curator Simon Sladen spoke to him about his career and thoughts on […]

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Funny Girls: Cathy Haill & Graham Brandon document the drag revue bar that makes Blackpool rock!

Curator Cathy Haill and Museum Photographer Graham Brandon take a look behind the scenes at Funny Girls cabaret show bar. Pleasure gardens, song and supper rooms, and music halls have all been places of entertainment where audiences enjoyed popular entertainment in a convivial atmosphere, eating and drinking during the performance. While most theatres today restrict […]

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Five Spooky Tricks and Treats from the V&A Theatre and Performance Collections

In celebration of Halloween Assistant Curator, Alexander Clayton, takes a look at five spooky objects from the V&A Theatre and Performance Collections. TREAT: Frankenstein’s Monster, 1935 Measuring at almost 7 feet tall, this costume and mannequin for Frankenstein’s monster is one of the largest—and strangest—costumes housed in the V&A collections. The costume was originally worn […]

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Glimpsing History: A Volunteer’s Perspective on Theatre and Performance Collections

Corrie Tan, volunteer in the Department of Theatre and Performance, describes her experience working with Theatre and Performance Collections. I’m on tiptoes atop a yellow ladder I will eventually christen Eric (after Eric Morecambe, but I don’t know that yet), reaching for a grey archive box sandwiched in-between two others, stacked high on a tall […]

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The Pig on the British Stage

Assistant Curator, Janet Birkett, explores V&A Theatre and Performance Collections for examples of pigs in British theatre. Readers of The Stage newspaper will be familiar with Hamlet, the cartoon pig created by Harry Venning. Hamlet is an actor with strong opinions but only a modest talent, and spends more time in the bar than he […]

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“A Repertory Company on Wheels” – The Actors Touring Company Archive

Assistant Curator, Alice Young, takes a closer look at the Actors Touring Company Archive. The V&A Department of Theatre and Performance recently acquired the Actors Touring Company Archive. The London-based touring company aims to present international contemporary theatre to audiences in the UK and worldwide. Founded in Paris in 1978 by artistic director John Retallack, […]

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