The New Victoria Theatre Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection focuses on the sequence of prompt scripts, production files and photograph and sound recordings of the 394 major theatre productions presented in approx. 10,000 performances in 35 annual seasons over 36 years. The collection comprises:

News-cuttings scrapbooks, 1961-1998; playbills; prompt scripts, 1962-1998; Special Events performance scripts; production documentation; show music manuscripts; academic studies relating to the Theatre Company; Documentary research materials; papers relating to the building of the New Victoria Theatre; outsize volumes of press releases and press cuttings; designs and artefacts - several sets of drawings and designs by Arthur Berry and other artists including designs for productions and studies of rehearsals.

240 A4 files containing production files with callsheets; properties lists; lighting and sound plots; accounts and sales details; audience statistics; Theatre Trust minutes and those of internal staff meetings; correspondence relating to funding; performance returns; performance rights; administration; production budgets; publicity and marketing; casting and staffing; auditions and contracts; internal correspondence.

Photographs relating to productions, 1962-1998; the building of the New Victoria Theatre; events and ceremonies; performers, writers, designers; negatives; slides.

6 standard size archival boxes of spool film and tape; 25 shelves of reel tapes and audio cassette tapes equating to over 1000 hours of audio recordings of actual performances including sound effects, original incidental music and rehearsals and over 2000 hours of research audio recordings; 4 filing cabinets of photographs and slides.

Administrative / Biographical History

The old Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent was the first permanent home of the Studio Theatre Company, set up by the theatre director, designer and academic Stephen Joseph in 1954. Joseph was a passionate advocate of the open stage in general and of theatre in the round in particular. His touring company always played in the round and Joseph had a significant influence on the development of the open stage in Britain. In 1962 he handed over direction of his company to Peter Cheeseman who dedicated his subsequent career to developing Joseph's policies in the more fruitful context of a stable base in a large industrial community. New work was the first priority, complemented by the production of major dramatic classics and outstanding contemporary plays in the developing traditions of the British repertory Movement.

Peter Cheeseman stayed at the old Victoria Theatre, initiating and leading the design and fundraising process for the New Victoria Theatre, Europe's first purpose-built theatre in the round. The archive coverage extends to Cheeseman's retirement from his post as Theatre Director in January 1998. The New Victoria Theatre remains in production, with different policy priorities, under a new Director.

Reference: Deposit information for the New Victoria Theatre Archive.

Arrangement

The collection is divided chronologically in 3 phases as follows: 1955 to 1962, limited material relating to the history of the founding company - Stephen Joseph's Studio Theatre Limited - prior to establishment of old Victoria Theatre (rest held at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough); 1962-1986, Comprehensive records in all categories of material of work at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent (cinema converted to theatre in the round); 1986-1998, Same comprehensive records for new home of company, New Victoria Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme (purpose built theatre in the round).

Conditions Governing Access

The archive is at present being assembled and sorted by Romy Cheeseman as Honorary Archivist to the New Victoria Theatre Trust and it will be some time before full access to its contents can be arranged. Further information can be obtained by contacting Information Services, Thompson Library, Staffordshire University via email at the following address: isadmin@staffs.ac.uk making reference to the Victoria Theatre Collection held in Special Collections.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited in 2001 by the New Victoria Theatre.

Other Finding Aids

An authority record exists for the New Victoria Theatre (GB 152 AAR1878).

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Accruals

Further deposits are expected.

Corporate Names