Donations and Bequests

The Society for Theatre Research is a charity and, as such, relies on money received from donations and subscriptions. This allows us to further our aims of fostering research into the history and practice of British and British-related theatre, and of sharing that research with the public.

Your legacy or donation could form a vital contribution to any of the Society’s varied activities, whether it be towards research academic or practical, supporting lectures or symposia, publishing important books, or continuing to provide a platform for all our members to share their findings with the world.

What your donation or legacy could bring to the Society

Kathleen Barker, the much-loved Honorary Secretary of the Society from 1970 to 1987, was a scrupulous and unselfish scholar, whose career was in educational administration but whose passion was for the theatre. Born and bred in Bristol, she spent much of her life assembling material on the theatre in Bristol and in 1974 the Society published her masterpiece The Theatre Royal Bristol 1760-1966. In later life she gained her doctorate on provincial theatre from the University of Leicester, and on her death in 1991 left her many papers to the University of Bristol. A Research Award is given every year in her name, most usually for a project on theatre outside London.

Anthony Denning was a keen, though distant, member of the Society. He retired from the Diplomatic Service to live in Cirencester, never came to meetings, but continued an energetic correspondence with Kathleen Barker. He spoke ten languages and his passions included opera, toy theatres and local history – on his death in 1987 he had completed most of an account of the theatre in Cirencester which was finished by Paul Ranger and published by the Society in 1993 (and is still in print). He also left a very generous legacy which funded many new initiatives (see our History) and continues to fund a Research Award in his name.

Stephen Joseph, a pioneer of ‘theatre in the round’, taught in the Drama Department at Manchester University, where his bold and iconoclastic teaching inspired a generation of theatre artists. His books on theatre history, scenic design and theatre in the round were written to serve as manuals of practice. He believed passionately in new writing and in cheaply built theatres ‘that should self-destruct in no more than fifteen years so that new work did not have to take place in yesterday’s ideas of theatre’.  Following Stephen’s premature death, his production company was wound up and the remaining funds donated to the STR.  These monies became the foundation of the Research Awards fund, acknowledged by an annual award in his name.

Maggie Collins made a bequest which benefitted the Book Prize and Research Awards, and continues to fund the Annual Lecture Series, in recognition of which the Christmas lecture, which often includes a seasonal element of performance, is named after her.  The image above is from Horatio Blood’s toy theatre show in 2014.  Born in Australia, Maggie trained as an actress at RADA, subsequently working in local rep in the UK and most notably with Hugh Hunt’s Elizabethan Theatre Company in Australia in the mid-50s. Settling in the UK, she then taught here, in Australia and in Denmark.  For many years she organised the STR Lecture Programme, enlivening meetings of the STR committee and life in general.

Paul Iles was a quiet but effective theatre administrator, making his name first in Australia in Adelaide, then as founding producer of the North Queensland Theatre Company, and later at the  Nimrod Theatre in Sydney. Back in the UK he continued his career as general manager of the Grand Theatre, Blackpool and later the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh.  His legacy, given specifically towards research into theatre in Australia, is a reflection of the love he had for that country and of the happy years he spent there. It enabled seven scholars to pursue their researches into British-Australian theatre exchanges. Topics ranged from Australian postcolonial drama to Eliza Winstanley, via performances in the old prison theatre at Fremantle.

Hilda Schiff came to this country from Vienna on a Kindertransport in 1939.  Reunited with her father after the war, she went with him to the US but returned to study in London and Oxford. A poet herself, she compiled Holocaust Poetry, a highly regarded anthology of works by a very wide range of poets. She was a good friend of the STR – an earlier donation from her had funded the hors série Society publication of Sybil Rosenfeld’s The York Theatre – and her legacy was the basis of the wherewithal to fund the renewal of the website in 2018, giving the STR new tools to reach more people and providing a flexible and entertaining platform for the extraordinary variety of activities it supports.

We have also received legacies from

Olive Young
Olive Young was for many years the indexer of Theatre Notebook.  Her legacy funded the compilation and publication of a cumulative index to the journal for volumes 41-60.

Jack Reading
The Research Awards Fund and the Book Prize Fund both benefitted from a large bequest to the Society by Jack Reading, a member of STR from its earliest days, a long-term committee member and the first organiser of the Book Prize.

George Rowell
STR Publications was the recipient of a bequest from George Rowell, a member of the Bristol University Drama Department teaching staff from its earliest days, and a former Chairman of STR.

James Steele                                                                                                                                                                                               A bequest from the first Stage Manager and subsequently Production Manager of Northern Dance Theatre (now Northern Ballet Theatre), helps to fund the annual STR publication.

… in addition, generous anonymous donations in recent years include one of £5000 to the Research Awards and one of £1000 to the Poel Workshops.

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