Renaissance Theatre Company Archive

Scope and Content

The archive contains administrative records relating to the running of the Renaissance Theatre Company; production records relating to the plays produced by the company; literary records containing scripts submitted to the Renaissance Theatre Company; press and marketing records containing press cuttings and marketing materials; and audio records containing sound recordings of Renaissance Theatre Company productions.

Administrative / Biographical History

On leaving the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985 Kenneth Branagh teamed up with fellow actor David Parfitt to work on their first independent production. Romeo and Juliet premiered at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith (London) in 1986 with Branagh taking the lead role as well as directing the production. Its success prompted the formation of the Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987. Their first production was Branagh’s own play Public Enemy which also played at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. This was followed by John Sessions’ The Life of Napoleon which after a sell-out season at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, transferred to the Albery Theatre in London’s West End.

The Renaissance Theatre Company subsequently became one of Britain’s major touring companies, often attracting leading actors to direct their productions. In 1988 they took Much Ado about Nothing, As You like It and Hamlet, directed respectively by Judi Dench, Geraldine McEwan and Derek Jacobi, on an extensive tour of the UK and Ireland. This also included a two-week stay at Kroneberg Castle, Denmark and a ten-week season at the Phoenix Theatre, London. Judi Dench worked with the company once again in the summer of 1989 directing John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger which toured Belfast, Newcastle and London as well as being filmed for television. Later in 1989 the Renaissance Theatre Company worked again with actor and comedian John Sessions on his production Napoleon: The American Story which toured Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Dublin and London.

In 1990 Renaissance took King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream on an extensive World tour which included dates in Los Angeles and Tokyo and a cast that included Richard Briers and Emma Thompson. Subsequent productions in 1991 and 1992 included Scenes from a Marriage, by Ingmar Bergman and Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya before folding in 1992.


The collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • THM/10/1- Papers relating to the running of the Renaissance Theatre Company
  • THM/10/2- Production records
  • THM/10/3- Press and Marketing
  • THM/10/4- Literary Records
  • THM/10/5- Renaissance Theatre Company sound recordings

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Renaissance Theatre Company, 1994

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Renaissance Theatre Company may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

See also:

  • Renaissance Theatre Company Collection, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.
  • Renaissance Films Collection, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham

Please ask for details.