Monstrous Regiment Theatre Company Archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of the administrative and artistic management papers of the Monstrous Regiment Theatre Company, from its establishment in 1975, until financial support from the Arts Council of Great Britain was discontinued in 1993. The main core of the archive consists of: financial papers including contracts accounts and production accounts books; publicity materials such as photographs, posters and flyers; reviews; day books and records of meetings; manuscripts; annotated scripts; correspondence with writers; correspondence with the Arts Council of Great Britain, forms, financial correspondence and reports; video and audio cassette recordings of productions; scores and set and costume designs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Monstrous Regiment Theatre Company was established in 1975 as a performer-based theatre collective. It produced 30 major touring shows, along with many rehearsed readings and smaller projects, in all of them women's lives and experiences were placed centre stage. Its work figures prominently in studies of feminist theatre in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s. No shows have been produced since 1993, when financial support from the Arts Council was discontinued. The company's name refers ironically to John Knox's sixteenth century pamphlet, 'The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women'. Reacting to the marginal status and stereotypical depiction of women in both conventional and political theatre, its founders wanted to create a radical alternative with serious opportunities for women as actors, writers, directors, designers and technicians. Men were not excluded, but women were to predominate both on-stage and off-stage. Committed to new writing, and to close collaboration with writers, Monstrous Regiment explored many theatrical forms, including epic theatre, cabaret and performance art. Specially commissioned live music was integral to many its productions, which ranged from large-scale ensemble pieces to one-woman shows. Its feminist political impetus was always evident, but its work was essentially theatrical, rather than issue-based or agitprop in character.

Arrangement

This collection has been organised into the following series:

  • THM/450/1 - Papers related to the management of the company
  • THM/450/2 - Production management records
  • THM/450/3 - Production records for rehearsed readings, workshops and other projects
  • THM/450/4 - Production photographs
  • THM/450/5 - Posters
  • THM/450/6 - Film and sound recordings
  • THM/450/7 - Set and costume designs

Conditions Governing Access

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: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of these files may be restricted. These are identified at file level.

Acquisition Information

Gift from Monstrous Regiment, 2015

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with collection management policy.

Custodial History

The Monstrous Regiment Theatre Company archive was previously on long term loan to the Women's Library. All its holdings were transferred to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Special Collections in 2013. Soon after the transfer to LSE, it was decided to transfer the Monstrous Regiment Company Archive to the V&A.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Monstrous Regiment Theatre Company, as well as individual cast and crew members for productions in general may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.

Corporate Names