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News Victoria Theatre Archive awarded grant from the National Archives

The New Vic Theatre has been awarded a national grant to develop its Victoria Theatre Archive (VTA) housed at Staffordshire University.

Romy Cheeseman, Honorary Curator for the Victoria Theatre Archive
Image: Romy Cheeseman, Honorary Curator for the Victoria Theatre Archive

We are delighted with the success of this grant application which is a significant step towards making the Victoria Theatre Archive more accessible both to the University and wider community.

Paul Mahoney, Head of Library and Learning Services

The VTA collection, housed in Special Collections at the Thompson Library, dates from the creation of the Victoria Theatre company in 1962. It documents the early development of this creative organisation and includes materials of artistic, social and historical significance.

The collection includes scripts, programmes and posters for plays from across the decades. Other highlights include an original chair salvaged from the theatre, a teapot from the ‘Vic Appeal’ and a selection of props – including a harpoon specially made for a production of Moby Dick by local steelworks Shelton Bar.

Paul Mahoney, Head of Library and Learning Services commented: “As a university library we always welcome ways in which we can extend the reach of our collections in support of learning and research. We are delighted with the success of this grant application which is a significant step towards making the Victoria Theatre Archive more accessible both to the University and wider community.”

Fiona Wallace, New Vic Theatre Managing Director said: “The Archives Revealed Scoping Grant will help us to safeguard the materials from the history of our building, people, art and local issues, and help to make the collection more readily available, and accessible, to those interested in our history.”

Inspired by the visionary theatre-maker Stephen Joseph and led for 36 years by the late director Peter Cheeseman CBE, the Vic Theatre developed an international reputation for creating documentary dramas based on local subjects.  Early works included The Jolly Potters, about the struggle for workers’ rights in the pottery industry; The Knotty, about the North Staffordshire Railway; and Fight for Shelton Bar! which highlighted the campaign to save the local steelworks.

The Vic Theatre moved from an old cinema building in Hartshill in 1986, when local people fundraised to build a new theatre for the community – and the New Vic became the first purpose-built theatre-in-the-round in Europe.  It is now a key part of the cultural life of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Romy Cheeseman, Honorary Curator for the Victoria Theatre Archive, said: The volunteer team working with the Victoria Theatre Archive are greatly encouraged by the grant from the National Archives and we look forward to making further progress on developing access to the materials for use in research, education and community projects.”

The Thompson Library’s Special Collections is open to members of the University and also members of the public. Please contact libraryhelpdesk@staffs.ac.uk to request an appointment to visit.  

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