Live Theatre Archive

Scope and Content

Papers of Max Roberts Creative Director of Live Theatre from 1986 to 2017 include his personal collection of Live Theatre documents including play scripts, photographs, correspondence, papers related to the grow and development of the Theatre at their Quayside location, as well as a substantial collection of leaflets and posters from Live Theatre performances.

Administrative / Biographical History

Live Theatre was established in 1973 by Geoff Gillham and Val McLane with the ethos to serve and represent working class communities. Originally a touring theatre company based in Gateshead Live Theatre performed in social clubs, schools and other community venues across the North East. In its early years the theatre has strong political ideals with some members associated to the Workers Revolutionary Party of Newcastle. These political affiliations ceased when Gillham left the company to become more involved with the Party.

In the mid-1970s Live Theatre moved from Gateshead to Newcastle's Quayside using rooms in the Amber Collective's Side Gallery for rehearsals. This association with the Amber Collective led to Live Theatre collaborating with local writers such as Tom Hadaway.

In 1983 the company took up its permanent residence in the historic alms-houses, warehouse and courtyard on the Newcastle Quayside. Since then the building has undergone extensive renovations.

In 1986 Max Roberts became Live Theatre's Creative Director and under his directorship, became associated with the Arts Council in 1994. Max Roberts retired from his role as Creative Director in 2018 and was succeeded by Joe Douglas.

Live Theatre is a new writing theatre and has developed close associations with a number of playwrights including C.P. Taylor, Tom Hadaway, Lee Hall, Sean O'Brien and Julia Darling. With its Writer in Residence programme the theatre has supported playwrights to produce a number of high-profile productions including 'Cooking with Elvis', 'The Pitmen Painters' and 'And a Nightingale Sang in Eldon Square'.

The theatre also invests in youth theatre programmes including writing workshops and festivals.


Files retain the same order as they were received and files of the same series have been placed together.
LV/1 Artistic Directions - scripts, research, music and recordings
LV/2 Performance Photographs
LV/3 Correspondence - personal and administrative
LV/4 Buildings
LV/5 Promotion and Marketing - programmes and posters
LV/6 Reviews and Recognition - press cuttings
LV/7 Annual Summaries

Access Information

Access restrictions apply to parts of this collection in accordance with the United Kingdom's Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000. See individual items for further details on where these restrictions apply.

Where restrictions do not apply, access is open to bona fide researchers; appointment in advance and proof of identity required. Please see for further details.

Archivist's Note

This catalogue was created by Danielle McAloon, Literary Archivist, Newcastle Special Collections, 2020

Separated Material

Live Theatre book collection

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make published use of any material from Newcastle University's Special Collections must be sought in writing from the Special Collections Librarian (email: and from the copyright owner if appropriate. The library will assist where possible with the identification of copyright owners, but the responsibility to obtain copyright clearance rests with the user.


Further accruals are expected

Related Material

Micheal Chaplin Archive contains material relating to his work with Live Theatre, including posters, programmes and press cuttings
Sid Chaplin Archive - includes correspondence, programmes and tickets
Val McLane Archive - papers of founding member of Live Theatre
Chris Madge Archive - photographs of early Live Theatre performances