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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NVAP CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF RECORDING PERFORMANCE

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the National Video Archive of Performance, Jill Evans looks back at how the archive has developed. This May, we fêted Margaret Benton, former Director of the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, for creating the National Video Archive of Performance (NVAP) and pioneering the art of […]

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Watery Wonders: Spectacular Aquatic Entertainment – Part 2 Venice Comes to London

In this second post of the series marking the forthcoming 250th anniversary of modern circus, Curator, Cathy Haill, explores the history of aquatic pageants at Olympia Exhibition Hall, London. The biggest and most profitable single aquatic spectacle that London had ever seen opened at the Olympia Exhibition Hall on the 26th December 1891. Joseph Lyons, […]

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Photographing People and Performance: Crickmay at 80

As we mark the 80th birthday of  photographer Anthony Crickmay, Curator of Dance, Jane Pritchard, looks back at his long career. Saturday 20 May 2017 sees the 80th birthday of one of Britain’s greatest photographers, Anthony Crickmay, best known for his dance and theatre photography. There will be a display of his work opening on […]

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Happy Birthday Mr Punch!

Curator, Cathy Haill, celebrates the 355th anniversary of the first recorded UK appearance of popular puppet character, Mr Punch. Mr. Punch is 355 years old in May 2017.  The V&A holds the George Speaight Punch & Judy Archive, a variety of examples of Punch & Judy figures including Wal Kent’s Punch & Judy on display […]

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Battlefield to Boudoir: The Costumes of Adam Ant

Ahead of Adam Ant’s 2017 “Anthems” tour, Archive Assistant, Lynn Wood, gives an introduction to the Adam Ant costume collection in the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Musically 1980 was a somewhat eclectic year; mainstream pop acts such as Captain and Tennille vied for chart places with punk band The Clash, glam icons Queen and […]

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British Theatre and Europe: Past, Present and Future – Part 2

In the second part of the blog, “British Theatre and Europe: Past, Present and Future,” Assistant Curators, Alice Young and Helen Gush, highlight some of the exciting events taking place during the V&A Performance Festival in April 2017. The annual V&A Performance Festival takes place every April celebrating theatre and performance in all their forms, with […]

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British Theatre and Europe: Past, Present and Future – Part 1

Just as the UK begins to re-examine its relationship with Europe, the V&A presents a new way of exploring European history and cultural heritage.  Assistant Curators, Alice Young and Helen Gush, introduce a new European display in the Theatre and Performance Galleries and the upcoming Performance Festival drawing on European themes The new display in the Theatre […]

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The Guardian Angel of Theatreland: A History of the Spirit of Gaiety

Figure 1 - The Spirit of Gaiety, Hibbert C. Binney, 1904. Museum no. S.2630-1996.

As a team of conservators begin work on restoring the Spirit of Gaiety statue on display at the V&A Museum, Rosie Vizor from the Department of Theatre and Performance uncovers the history of the statue and the theatre on which she stood. The magnificent Spirit of Gaiety statue has been in the care of the […]

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A History of Oscar Wilde in Three Plays

Assistant Curator, Alex Clayton, celebrates LGBT History Month with a blog exploring the career and legacy of Oscar Wilde, using material from the V&A’s Theatre and Performance Collections. On the 31st January 2017, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Police and Crime Act. The law posthumously pardoned over 50,000 historic convictions of ‘gross indecency’ and other […]

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Watery Wonders: Spectacular Aquatic Entertainment – Part 1, Water Takes To The Ring

As we approach the 250th anniversary of the founding of modern circus in 2018, in a series of posts Curator for Popular Entertainment, Cathy Haill, will explore aquatic entertainment in the circus.   Circuses are more generally associated with the smell of the sawdust than the waves of the water, but a recent visit to […]

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