Respondent or information from other source: Professor Dominic Shellard, Project Leader
Aims, policies, purpose/impetus for project:
The Theatre Archive Project (TAP) is aiming to reinvestigate British theatre history 1945-1968 from the perspectives of both the theatregoer and the practitioner. During the last four years the project has given the public access to the following resources:
The Theatre Archive Project (TAP) began in 2003, as a major AHRC funded project. The Project is still ongoing as a University of Sheffield/British Library project. The AHRC funding ended in 2008.
Key individuals and roles involved:
Prof. Dominic Shellard (University of Sheffield) - Project leader Lada Price (University of Sheffield) - Project Administrator (event organising; database maintenance; co-ordinating interviewees; co-ordinating funding applications) Alec Patton (University of Sheffield) - Volunteer interviewers co-ordinator (training and co-ordinating the interviewers) Volunteer student interviewers (University of Sheffield) - so far over 100 student interviewers have conducted an interview for the project. Jamie Andrews (British Library) - TAP Steering Group (support for TAP at the BL)
Paid or voluntary, training in oral history:
Only one staff member (project administrator) is paid on a part-time basis.
All others are on voluntary basis.
All key individuals have had oral history training. Student volunteers are trained before they undertake an interview. (Separate guidelines for interviewers can be provided, if needed)
Project funded by:
The University of Sheffield and the British Library pay a salary for one part-time staff member (until June 2009). The UoS has also provided limited funding for expenses of volunteer interviewers. However, more funding is being sought by TAP to develop new oral history interview strands, such as one on HM Tennent.
Management of project:
The project is managed jointly by the UoS and BL. The project leader and administrator are responsible for the day-to day running of the project with support form the BL. The BL helps TAP with event organisation and posting of transcripts on the TAP website.
Format of interviews:
All interviews are recorded on digital recorders as a WAV file. The recordings are then saved on a high quality CD and posted to the BL sounds archive where they are catalogued and can be requested by the public.
How interviewees are selected and located:
When the project begun notices were sent to major theatre related publications, national newspapers and flyers were distributed to theatres. The response was overwhelming. Interviewees then told us of their friends and acquaintances who might want to be interviewed (word of mouth). People who attended our events also expressed their wish to be interviewed. TAP is still being contacted by people who would like to share their theatrical memories.
Interview running time: Most interviews last approximately 1 hour.
Copyright in interviews. Assignment rights?:
Yes, all interviewees sign a British Library copyright form so that the recordings can be stored in the BL sound archive and the transcripts can be published on the TAP website.
Location of interview copies. Accessibility to public/format:
The interview recordings are held in the BL sound archive and also in the Sheffield University Special Collections.
Collection contact details/website:
The public can request to listen to an interview by following a simple procedure. The original recordings may be consulted via the Listening and Viewing Service of the British Library Sound Archive. Appointments can be made by phone, fax, post or e-mail. You need to hold a British Library Reader Pass. Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7418 (Listening and Viewing Service) Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7676 (Enquiry Service) Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7441 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview transcripts/lists of topics or other content indexes:
Yes, each interview is transcribed, checked by interviewee for mistakes, proofed and posted on the TAP website. So far aver 180 interviews are available freely to the public at:
Each interview has a short summary presenting details of the interviewee and topics/content covered in the interview. The public can now search over 1 million words of transcripts by entering a key word or words in the 'Search the Theatre Archive Project' box at the top of the interview page.
All interviews are listed in alphabetical order. Surname quick links are also available.
Future plans for project/interviews?:
Specific goals for the Theatre Archive Project:
Project web site: www.bl.uk/theatrearchive
List on a joint (possibly STR website): Yes very interested
Join listserv/emailing list/forum: Yes
The project has received and is still receiving very positive feedback about its work. The testimonies have strongly encouraged us to continue with the oral history strand of the project.
For example, before he passed away Ronald Gray wrote to us: "I've re-lived 60 years theatre-going! Your interviewer confirmed for me the importance and value of this project fro future scholars and historians of that post-war period of recovery from a terrible war and the resulting changes seen through the experiences and memories of my generation." (19/6/07) Just before he died Terence Rigby contacted us to say: "I was really pleased to have taken part in your project. Thank you and many many congratulations of your achievement". (3/01/08) Many of our interviewees have participated in evenings and conferences at the British Library. Harry Greene, who worked with Theatre Workshop emailed us to say that: "The whole team has produced a most remarkable collection of interviews and a splendidly definitive theatre book. I'm very honoured to be part of it." [08/10/08]
The project has also touched the lives of people on a personal level: "The content of your interview with Austin Cole has provided more information about my great uncle and his wife than I have been able glean from family or any other sources. So, this shows just one aspect of the value such projects can produce. Thank you for providing me, albeit unknowingly, with such a clear insight into an aspect of my great aunt and uncles lives." (Den Griffiths, Woodcote 02/12/08)
List of interviewees provided: Yes (see just below)
Please note that due to the volume of interviews we do not enclose interview running times but most last approximately 1 hour.
Anderson, Ian N
Budworth, Dr David MBE
Cooper, George A
de Lannoy, John
Dunstan (Ewing), Elizabeth
Jones (nee Balance), Julia
Mason, George and Mona
Orme MBE, Elsie
Ostler, Mike and Kathy
Redgrave, Phyll and Alan
Rix, Lord Brian
Smith, Anthony (A.C.H.)
Smith (nee Wilkinson), Josephine
Goodman (aka Turner), Pearl
Young, Wayland and Elizabeth
Oral History Survey Pages
Index of Projects
21st April 2009