Playbills in the Spotlight: theatre needs you!

After a busy summer preparing our collections for their big move back to our new basement stores, SC&A is back for the new term with a host of new projects and – excitingly – we need your help.

Next Thursday (28th September), SC&A are hosting a workshop in conjunction with the British Library to trial their new crowdsourcing project. ‘In the spotlight’ seeks to gather information about the extensive playbill collection held at the British Library, and we get to see the project first!

As you may be aware, we are no stranger to playbills – we hold over 2000 in our collections, and they’re a fantastic source of information about how theatrical and popular performances were advertised in the 19th – 20th centuries. (They also have some utterly brilliant examples of typography, and it’s really interesting to see how plays were described to the public…) The British Library are particularly interested in what we think about their project because some of the first playbills they’re exploring are from Margate – just down the road from us.

So, if you’re free next Thursday afternoon, why not come to our workshop and discover more about how you can help with the project? There will be talks from British Library staff, and the SC&A team will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Interested? Book a place today by emailing specialcollections@kent.ac.uk. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

‘Prescriptions: artists’ books’ exhibition

Special Collections & Archives are displaying an exhibition called Prescriptions: artists’ books in the Templeman Gallery. The pieces on display are from a collection accessioned into SC&A last autumn.

Florascript: Wild Garlic, Yarrow, Foxglove, by Cas Holmes. Photo by Egidija Ciricaite

The artists’ books in this collection were first shown at Prescriptions, an exhibition at The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury (21 April—25 September 2016), curated by Dr Stella Bolaki and Egidija Čiricaitė.

The Prescriptions exhibition at the Beaney was structured around the book art of Martha A. Hall (1949-2003), a former teacher and professional weaver. Martha was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, and in 1998 she began documenting her experiences with breast cancer and her interactions with the medical community through book art.

 

Other artists were invited to submit artists’ books for the exhibition, reflecting on the themes of illness, grieving, surgery, birth, recovery, mental health, aging, treatments, and wellbeing. Over 200 artists worldwide submitted nearly 250 works, of which 88 were selected for the exhibition. 71 of these were deposited with Special Collections & Archives at the University of Kent in autumn 2016.

Core Sample, by Allison Cooke Brown. Photo by Egidija Ciricaite

We are really excited about this collection, one of the most recent accessions into SC&A. The works in Prescriptions: artists’ books complements the teaching that occurs through seminars held in Special Collections & Archives (particularly those which interrogate materiality and the physicality of books), and also demonstrates SC&A’s commitment to preserving collections of varied formats which actively support current research and teaching at the University.

Prescriptions takes place as part of a wider research project on artists’ books and the medical humanities, organised by the University of Kent and the University of New England (Maine Women Writers Collection), and supported by the Wellcome Trust. You can find out more information on that project on the Artists’ Books and the Medical Humanities research project site and the School of English web pages.

Prescriptions exhibition in the Templeman Gallery

 

 

Reading room closure 1 August – 18 September 2017

We are unable to take bookings to access Special Collections & Archives material during the period 1 August until 18 September. This is because we are moving our collections back to the Templeman Library following major building work. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause over the summer.

We’ll be providing updates via our webpages and twitter account but if you need to get in touch, please email us (specialcollections@kent.ac.uk) with any enquiries or phone 01227 823127.

Music in the Archives – a Summer Music Week event, 7th June 2017 2pm – 4pm

What do early modern playwrights, the Victorians, First World War soldiers and pantomime audiences all have in common? Music – and archives!

Books from the John Crow Ballad & Song Collection

To complement the University of Kent’s Summer Music Week, Special Collections & Archives invites you to an open afternoon on Wednesday 7th June between 2 – 4pm to learn more about how music is represented, recorded and explored through our collections.

W.K. Haselden: Music at meals: Meals at music – a parallel, 1914

You’ll be able to view a wide range of material including:
Items from the John Crow Ballad and Song Collection
Rare books from our Pre-1700 Collection
Artwork held in the British Cartoon Archive
Alternative cabaret performances found in the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive

…and much much more.

You don’t need to book, just drop in on the day. Whether you’re a performer, a researcher, a fan of all things musical or just curious about the material held right here on campus – all are welcome. We look forward to seeing you next week!

You’re invited to the launch of ‘Sex, Death and Panto’!

The end of the Spring Term is finally upon us (farewell deadlines; hello chocolate) and with that brings the annual launch of the DR575: Victorian and Edwardian Theatre exhibition, which is being held tomorrow (5th April) at 4.30pm.

This is the second year in a row that our second-year Drama and Theatre Undergraduates have had the challenge of designing an exhibition to fit in the new Templeman Library Gallery space as part of their final assignments. This year, the students have split into two groups looking at very different topics:

Group one: Crime, Scandal and Theatre

The Victorian fascination with the gothic and macabre was a key feature of 19th century society. But when scandalous crimes – like the Jack the Ripper murders – became all too real on the streets of London, how did playwrights reflect the concerns of their audiences? This exhibition will focus on several sensations of the period and explore how the theatrical world reacted. This topic has never been explored as part of this module before, and we can’t wait to see what our students come up with.

Group two: Drury Lane Pantomime of the Late Nineteenth Century

The Theatre Royal at Drury Lane stands on the oldest site of a theatre in London. The 1812 building that stands today is the fourth theatre erected there, and it has a rich history. This exhibition will explore how Augustus Harris’ management in the late 19th century changed the fortunes of the Theatre for the better – and, in particular, how Harris’ role in establishing the Pantomime tradition. It will explore the roles of actors and actresses working at the theatre through analysing material held in Special Collections & Archives.

The Victorian and Edwardian theatre module is always a highlight of the Special Collections & Archives team’s year; this time you’ll also be able to take a look back at past exhibitions to see how far the course has developed. Come along, have a drink and discover how fantastic an insight into Victorian Britain (and beyond) our wonderful theatre collections can provide!