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Special Collections, Staffordshire University

An introduction to Special Collections

All about the collection

The Victoria Theatre Collection is an important and extensive resource for Researchers, Theatre and Social Historians and Postgraduate students. The theatre production, documentary research and community work carried out by Peter Cheeseman's, internationally famous, Victoria Theatre Company between 1962 and 1998 has been meticulously recorded, archived and preserved over four decades.

The documents, photographs and tape-recordings contained within the collection offer unique research opportunities, unparalleled by other theatre archive collections.

As well as being an invaluable resource for students of the Theatre, the collection is a goldmine for Historians wanting to research and study the social history of the Potteries and first-hand accounts of the experiences of working men and women in Britain during the latter half of the twentieth century.

The collection contains unique testimony from miners, steelworkers, pottery workers, munitions workers, soldiers, prisoners of war, political activists, local protesters and conservationist. As well as the dramatic interpretations of those experiences by locally-based writers and directors.

For students of local history the collection also contains material that documents the development and decline of local industry and celebrates the lives of local figures, such as Arnold Bennet, Josiah Wedgwood, Hugh Bourne, Sir Stanley Mathews, Havergel Brian -and the local jazz musician and busker Eric Newton.
For students of Drama, Media and the Arts the collection contains extensive theatre production records, scripts, photographs, film and sound recordings of performances, documentaries and forty-years-worth of press cuttings, correspondence and contracts with actors, musicians, directors, designers, agents, many other arts practitioners and organisations -including local people and institutions.

King Lear archive review
The collection also contains information on urban conservation and drawings, photographs and other records relating to the creation of two
theatres-in-the round - the old and the New Vic theatres - information that would be of great interest to students of theatre form and architecture.

For students of business, arts administration and marketing, the collection contains correspondence, minutes, accounts and budgets relating to all aspects of the operation of a Regional Repertory Theatre -from business plans and Arts Council applications to detailed production costs, ticket office records, marketing studies and publicity material.

For students of Drama and English literature, the collection contains a complete set of prompt-scripts and many original scripts by important 20th century dramatists - and correspondence with both established playwrights and budding writers. (Some documents preserve the censorship requirements of the Lord Chamberlain.)

For the undergraduate student the complete collection of programmes and production research files contain valuable secondary source material on subjects ranging from Shakespeare to Wedgwood, from Primitive Methodism to Good Golly Miss Molly, from Ibsen and Chekhov to the Miner's Strike and the Fight for Shelton Bar.

The collection is currently being sorted and collated. Funding is being sought for cataloguing and digitization. It is hoped that research material and secondary-source packs will be available in the near future.