Exploring the archive…

I’ve just been up at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, delving into the Bristol Old Vic archive. I was looking for some things to display in our foyer as part of an interactive exhibition explaining the refurbishment work we’re doing. The archive stretches all the way back to 1767 and has playbills, posters, photographs, programmes, letters and other documentation which gives a fascinating insight into the history of the theatre. And of course, it’s fascinating to be able to handle real artefacts in an age when everything is digitised (I was mildly reprimanded for holding a biro near a particularly old poster). I was selecting a range of material from throughout the history of the theatre: a scan of the earliest surviving playbill from 1767, advertising Othello; a poster from 1876 advertising a music hall evening; a large, and rather beautiful poster from 1956, again for Othello, this time starring Peter O’Toole; production photography from Andy Hay’s 1999/2000 hit Blues Brother Soul Sister starring Kwame Kwei-Armah – this is the tip of the iceberg. You’ll be able to see these posters, and some of the artefacts uncovered during the refurbishment of the theatre in our foyer in a couple of weeks’ time. In the meantime, here are some photos I took on instagram. Matthew Austin

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