Organisations collaborate to create new theatre research YouTube channel

Exciting news that several esteemed organisations including the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and the University of Bristol Theatre Collection have created a new channel – Theatre and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century – which you can find here.

This is part of a project examining theatre as a significant and integrated part of nineteenth century visual culture, between Warwick University Theatre and Performance Studies Department & University of Exeter Drama Department and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (which supports world-class research into human culture and creativity).

With a fascinating range of material, this will be something that anyone with a keen interest in theatre history will want to dip into time and time again. Good luck to the project and its continued success!

Levelling Up- or Levelling Down? Another view on the arts money moving outside London

Ardent Theatre’s co-Creative Director Mark Sands has written a very useful article about the redistribution of existing arts money outside London and why it isn’t the answer. Well worth three minutes of your time. Read it here

“London is being punished for the decades’ long underinvestment in regional arts and cuts in local funding. It’s not a solution; it’s a recipe for resentment.”

Mark Sands

Ardent Theatre salutes an alternative platinum jubilee

Martin Daniels back in the day….

To celebrate an amazing 70-year acting career, Ardent Theatre have invited Martin Daniels to guest blog this month for them, to describe his experiences in weekly repertory theatre.

Weekly rep, as it was known, was a very popular form of live theatrical entertainment for most of the twentieth century. The first repertory company was founded in Manchester by Annie Horniman in 1908. Previously, theatres had relied heavily on touring shows coming up from London.

Loyal local audiences came week after week to support “their rep” , and see pretty much whatever was on, with a company of actors who stayed for the entire season, appearing twice nightly in the current week’s show while learning the script for the next week’s show during the day. Equity later put a stop to the twice nightlies, reducing to eight shows a week usually including a midweek and weekend matinee.

Almost disappeared now in the UK, traditional weekly repertory theatre can still just occasionally be seen in the summer at Frinton, Sidmouth, Sheringham and sometimes Windsor – although sadly, Covid may have affected their survival and profitability.

In Ardent’s engaging blog piece, Martin Daniels talks about his early start in 1950s Manchester at the tender age of fifteen, the agents specialising in rep, and the numerous rep companies he played with, which in those days spread far and wide across the UK.

Finally, Martin laments the changes in the profession – although he proudly sports his current Equity card!

Congratulations Martin – and may you have many more happy years as an Equity member!

You can read Martin’s whole blog piece here

You can also see and hear Martin talking in more detail (with some fun stories) about his rep experiences in this talk with Ardent’s Mark Sands in 2016. Find it here

Intrigued about weekly rep? A taste of the feeling of weekly rep can be gleaned from a gently amusing comedy from 1952, CURTAIN UP, starring Margaret Rutherford as the precious author of next week’s play and Robert Morley as the exasperated director trying to make something workable from her galumphing script. It is based on Philip King’s successful play ON MONDAY NEXT which ran at London’s Comedy Theatre for 444 performances between June 1949 and June 1951. You can watch the film of the play on Youtube (below) thanks to poster Classics. Enjoy!

“Philip King has simply taken the lid off a weekly repertory theatre during an early rehearsal of the play to be presented ‘on Monday next’ and let the various situations speak most amusingly for themselves … The author gains his effect by ridiculing the ridiculous.” – The Stage, 9th June 1949

Independent theatremakers grasp THE KNOT!

This is your last call to sign up for the fascinating events in The Knot. Applications close at midnight tomorrow (25th May).

The Knot is a festival of ideas and conversations that creatives need to have. One year since theatres reopened, independent artists face many daunting questions – some seemingly unanswerable.

New Diorama Theatre (NDT) Broadgate, who work with many independent artists, know that these big, knotty questions aren’t being asked out in the open. They have created a one-week festival called The Knot which dares us all to leave the WhatsApp group, get out of the DMs, save our subtweets to draft, and engage together in the big conversations. However nervous we are.

For a week in June, freelance artists & independent companies are setting an audacious agenda, with bigger funded organisations attending on their terms. A bold programme of big-thinking panel discussions, game-changing workshops and mind-expanding speakers – plus theatre’s spiciest pub quiz.

Saturday 18 – Friday 24 June, the events are hosted at NDT Broadgate and online.

Sign up here

The Knot is a partnership between New Diorama Theatre, Bunny, Uproot and Culture Mile. All kindly supported by National Lottery funding awarded by Arts Council England.


THE FATHER AND THE ASSASSIN Image by Simon Sorted from NT website

Here’s another NT talks event you can stream live for free.

On Friday 27th May at 1.00pm BST, you can join writer Anupama Chandrasekhar and director Indhu Rubasingham to discuss their new production, The Father and the Assassin, with broadcaster and film-maker Bidisha.

If you miss the talk, you can catch up using the same link you will receive when you register for the talk.

To register for the live-stream, click here.