Papers of Peter Streuli: theatre director, producer, and actor

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection is comprised of papers relating to Peter Streuli, an influential figure in British theatre, active during the mid-twentieth century (1938-1980). The range of material includes annotated stage scripts with diagrams and cuttings relating to stage directions and lighting, as well as rehearsal timetables, cast lists, audio reels, notebooks and scrap books, photographs, work diaries, correspondence, and documents relating to Streuli’s post as Director of Technical Training at the Central School of Speech and Drama (1960-1981). Notable items in the collection include annotated scripts from his work at the Embassy Theatre, London, on productions such as Twelfth Night (1967-1969), Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull (1980) and the musical, The Pajama Game (1979).

Administrative / Biographical History

Peter Streuli was born on 19th November, 1915, and attended Taunton School and Birkbeck College, where he was a member of the dramatic society. Deciding on a professional career in performing arts he studied acting at one of Britain’s leading drama schools, the Webber Douglas Drama School (which in 2006 would merge with the Central School for Speech and Drama where Streuli would teach from 1960 until his retirement). He graduated in 1938 and then spent several years in repertory theatre appearing as the juvenile lead in plays across the UK.

At the outbreak of WWII he became an active member of ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) providing entertainment for British troops while continuing to tour. In 1944 he worked under Sir Barry Jackson as an actor and stage director at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre where he remained for the next two years.

In 1946 he moved back to London, undertaking a production management role with the English Arts Theatre Company which led him on a tour of Europe. This role signaled a new phase for Streuli in that while he continued to act, professionally, he became much more focused on stage production, direction and management. He married Marion Menzies in 1947 and continued to work in repertory theatres in Worthing and Southport as a director and producer.

The 1950s saw Streuli’s career in theatre direction and production reach new heights as he became assistant director at the Old Vic Theatre School from 1950-1952 working alongside Glenn Byam Shaw and Michel St. Denis, and he was briefly a producer for the Edinburgh Festival in 1952, before Byam Shaw invited him to work as chief stage director and lighting designer at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. While there he worked on some of the theatre’s most notable productions across those 5 seasons, such as Anthony and Cleopatra (1953) with Michael Redgrave and Peggy Ashcroft, Othello (1954) with Anhony Quayle, Twelfth Night (1955) with John Gielgud, Macbeth (1955) and Titus Andronicus (1955) both with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as well as on Peter Brook's production of The Tempest (1957) with John Gielgud.

Streuli was appointed Director of Productions for the Pitlochry Theatre in 1959 where he continued to work until 1962. In the meantime, he also became a tutor at the Central School of Speech and Drama, in 1960, where three years later he was appointed Director of Technical (Stage Management) Training. His first-hand experience of stage acting, design, production, and direction, offered students a unique and practical insight into the on and off-stage roles involved in theatre. While there, Streuli continued to be involved in productions at the Embassy Theatre, the theatre owned by the School. He retired in 1981.

Peter Streuli died on January 2nd, 2007, aged 91.

See http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71-thm/382

Conditions Governing Access

Open and available for access.

Acquisition Information

Transferred to the DMU Archive in 2012 by Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard.

Other Finding Aids

A basic list is available on request from the Archivist.

Archivist's Note

Listed by Natalie Hayton, May 2016.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction may be carried out for private research purposes only, dependent on the condition of the individual item.

Related Material

A smaller collection of material related to Peter Streuli is held by the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. A description of this material can be found here: http//:www.archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb71