This study day, held on 7 November, was a great success with members from the Southwest, London, Warwick, and Kent.
The day began with a tour of the Bristol Theatre Collection. Jo Ellsworth talked us through the hold- ings and showed various materials. Highlights included a 1572 map of London, the oldest item in the Collection; a silver coin issued to the fifty original subscribers who paid for the first theatre on the site of the Bristol Old Vic; and William Poel’s 1897 drawings of what he believed the Globe theatre should look like. Jo also pointed out holdings that could pertain to our own research interests. Some of us plan to return to take advantage of this great resource.
From there, we had a quick but enjoyable pub lunch and then traipsed across the road for a tour of the Bristol Old Vic. Our guide, Andy, was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the building and the company. A highlight of the day was being allowed to venture into the space above the ceiling to glimpse the theatre’s original thunder run—an early prototype of ‘surround sound’, as Andy said. We also saw graffiti from 1893, tested out the 18th century benches in the gallery, and
marvelled at the sheer size of the wing space on stage.
Catherine Hindson of the Theatre Studies department at the University of Bristol gave an informative lecture about the history of the building, including the delicate politics of its most recent renovations. She has a forthcoming article in Theatre Notebook on this very subject.
The NRN is very grateful to all those who made the trip to Bristol for the day, and especially to Jo, Andy, and Catherine for helping us to make this a very successful event.