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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Watery Wonders: Spectacular Aquatic Entertainment – Part 3, Taking the Horses to Water

In the third post of the series marking the forthcoming 250th anniversary of the founding of modern circus, curator Cathy Haill, focuses on the aquatic entertainments at the London Hippodrome. Spectacle sold seats in late 19th century entertainment, and London’s most magnificent building to mount aquatic circus was the London Hippodrome near Leicester Square, on […]

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Behind the Scene(ry) at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond

As part of the Assistant Curator Development Programme, Harriet Reed visited the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond to find out more about its history, restoration and archive project. The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond was built in 1788 by Samuel Butler, who managed a touring theatre company around the circuit of Beverley, Harrogate, Kendal, Northallerton, […]

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What the Writer Saw: Remembering Joe Orton

August 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the untimely death of playwright, Joe Orton. Curator of Printed Books, Dr Beverley Hart, looks back at Orton’s controversial career. Monday 27 February 1967: In South Kensington, admired the architectural splendours of the Science Museum and the V&A. Joe Orton’s diary entry is followed by the approving verdict […]

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The Land of OZ: Cataloguing the Felix Dennis OZ Archive

Archive Assistant, Alice Ridgway, gives an introduction to the Felix Dennis OZ Archive and the challenges in cataloguing the collection. Earlier this year the V&A Department of Theatre and Peformance acquired the Felix Dennis OZ archive. Felix Dennis was the co-editor of the underground magazine published between 1967 and 1973. The magazine was renowned for its […]

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100 years of loans: The V&A and The Bowes Museum

From April to July 2017, The V&A loaned two paintings and three prints to the Bowes Museum, County Durham for their exhibition Painting the Stage: Garrick In Action. Assistant Curator, Harriet Reed, visited the museum to find out more about our regional loans programme and the two museums’ historic relationship. A visit to the Bowes […]

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Vivien Leigh in 3D

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Vivien Leigh in 1967, Keith Lodwick highlights an area of Leigh’s archive previously unknown to the public: Leigh’s passion for 3D stereoscopic photography. The V&A acquired the archive of the legendary British film and theatre actress Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) in 2013. The archive includes many never-before-seen records […]

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Black Sabbath: An Alternative Counterculture

Alice Ridgway examines the imagery used by the band, Black Sabbath, and their role in defining a heavy metal subculture. The V&A Department of Theatre and Performance holds a large collection of Rock and Pop memorabilia. This assortment of posters, t-shirts, badges, concert tickets and other ephemera allows an insight into pop and sub cultures […]

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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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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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