Project: Centre Stage: Backstage
1 December 2014
In 2013, the University of Bristol Theatre Collection was awarded £22,371 from the National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme for the Centre Stage: Backstage project to catalogue and thereby increase the accessibility of the 1,500 boxes of archival material from the Mander & Mitchenson Collection (M&M) donated to us in 2011.
M&M is the result of a lifetime's collecting by actors Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson. Their material was acquired through sales, auctions and donations from their friends, including Noel Coward, Sir John Gielgud, W. Somerset Maugham, Angus McBean and Dame Sybil Thorndike. Ray and Joe had an insatiable appetite for collecting information about all aspects of theatre: the performances, the places and the people who work within the industry and with their theatrical connections they had a privileged insight into the world backstage. The result is a wonderful and unique collection which reflects both the public and private life of theatre.
The Reference Box Collection (PDF, 259kB) contain almost half a million documents including personal memorabilia, correspondence, playbills, programmes, engravings, news cuttings, photographs, scripts, prompt copies, and designs. The boxes cover every actor, designer, director, writer and theatre of note over the last 200 years and represent just one part of M&M which in its entirety also contains a vast array of personal archives, artwork, costumes, artefacts, ceramics, photographs and props.
The Centrestage: Backstage project was completed in December 2014. The Mander & Mitchenson Reference Box Collection is now catalogued to file level and the catalogue lists are available online, accessible through the M&M Collection page.