A project to make our archive even more accessible to the public is getting underway this summer thanks to a £3,000 grant from the Association of Independent Museums (AIM).
The funding will enable a large number of items from the Theatre’s archive - including important eighteenth and nineteenth century playbills, posters, programmes, prints and books - to be transferred from their current storage in opaque, acid-free tissue paper to new transparent sleeves. This will facilitate easy viewing without having to remove them from their packaging, thus avoiding unnecessary and potentially damaging handling.
The work will be carried out by a team of our volunteers who have received training from experienced book and paper conservator Emma Lloyd-Jones in the correct way to handle and package the material. The project has also included an initial assessment of the condition of the archive, and images will be taken of key items, that have not already been photographed, with a view to making them accessible online.
Amongst the documents being re-packaged are various petitions made by the Theatre’s builder and first Theatre Manager Samuel Butler – for example a request to the Mayor and Corporation of Richmond to perform dated 1799 – as well as playbills from as early as 1773. There are also several prints of the Theatre and actors from the Georgian period, including Miss Jane Wallis (1774-1848), a well-known child actor who performed at Covent Garden and Bath, and the famous Georgian actor Edmund Kean (1787-1833).
Anyone with an interest in local history or theatre history, together with academics and students, is able to apply to view these and other items.
To find out more about the archive – either to arrange access or to volunteer with the archive project – please contact Susie Wood on 01748 823710 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO CAPTION: Archive specialist Emma Lloyd-Jones is pictured with volunteers from The Georgian Theatre Royal at the start of a project to re-package items from the Theatre’s extensive archive. (Left to right: Dilys Bruce, Jim Brown, Emma Lloyd-Jones, Gillian Meredith and Avril Proudlock.)