The Theatre Royal is telling ‘the story of theatre’

The Theatre Royal is creating an exhibition about the history of theatre with the help of the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tyne and Wear Archives Museums that will open 25 June.

The display will show theatre through the ages up to present day with a focus on the North East, with the Theatre Royal as the centre piece.

The exhibition will have various sections that will include Medieval drama, the first theatre, a new theatre, which is the Theatre Royal, World Wars and 1930s, Hollywood-on-Tyne and Shakespeare and beyond.

The display will be located in the foyer on the top floor. There will also be a display of original architect drawings of the Theatre Royal.

The exhibition got started during the restoration of the Theatre Royal back in 2011. The theatre received £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery fund, which required some kind of educational element to go along with it.

The chief executive of the Theatre Royal, Philip Bernays, said: “We had been thinking about developing, using the restoration as a catalyst, for developing a programme that is a strand to our learning programme that in some way embraced the building and the heritage of the building a bit more.”

The theatre combined the Heritage Lottery’s desire for something educational to come out of the restoration and the theatres own desire for a learning tool that used the building.

“What evolved from those discussions was the idea of having an exhibition called, ‘The story of theatre,” said Bernays.

The theatre spoke to the Victoria Albert Museum (V&A), the theatre that holds the national theatre collection, about assisting them with the project and providing artifacts for the exhibit. The V&A agreed.

The Theatre Royal took the idea of the exhibit to the Heritage Lottery and they liked it, and gave the theatre another £50,000, because it was going to cost more than originally thought. The total cost of the display was £85,000.

The display has taken a long time to put together because there was a lot of stuff that the theatre didn’t know about museums, like checking the light levels, humidity, security, insurances and agreements. The Theatre Royal worked with the V&A on all of these things and the Tyne and Wear Archives Museums (TWM) also worked with the theatre. The TWM is also lending the theatre artifacts.

Work on the exhibition should start the end of May and it will only take two weeks to get the display all together, because it is being pre-built somewhere else. The display will be completed on 17 June and will officially open on 25 June.

Assignment for master’s program in Portfolio II. 

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