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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A Crash Course in Sound Design with Gareth Fry

Assistant Curator Harriet Reed shares her experience of a sound design workshop led by Complicité Theatre Company.  Sound design is often the invisible unsung hero of theatre – it is always present but never intrusive, subtly altering our emotions in relation to whatever else is happening onstage. It is a subject that the Theatre and Performance […]

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June Whitfield Archive – A Personal Perspective

Theatre and Performance Collection volunteer, Suzy Quinn, shares her unique experience of cataloguing the June Whitfield Archive. “That’s a lovely collection of engagement photos of Mum and Dad”, I thought as I went through one of the many scrapbooks belonging to my mother, the actress June Whitfield.  These had been recently accessioned as part of […]

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From Venice to London – the short story of an Erasmus experience

Former Erasmus volunteer , Martina Ferrari, shares her experience of working with the Theatre and Performance Collections. It was March 2016 and there I was: a graduate from the university of Venice, unemployed, kind of lost, ready to jump (metaphorically, of course). Graduating is not easy, and I am not talking about writing a dissertation. […]

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Frankenstein on Stage

To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Curator of Printed Books, Beverley Hart, explores the tradition of Frankenstein and his creature on stage. When the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010, causing the temporary closure of most of European airspace, there was much meteorological debate about the extreme weather events […]

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Watery Wonders: Spectacular Aquatic Entertainment – Part 4, Still Making a Splash

In the last post of the series on the tradition of aquatic circus, Curator Cathy Haill looks at the water spectacles in modern circus. When architect Frank Matcham designed the interior of the London Hippodrome he was not without experience of a similar project. He had recently worked on the re-design of the interior of […]

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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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