This post was originally written for the College of Arts Industry Engagement blog, in conjunction with Archive Services, to highlight the potential for research in this area within Archives and Special Collections at the University of Glasgow.
Special Collections within the University of Glasgow Library is fortunate enough to be the repository for the Scottish Theatre Archive, a collection that contains a wealth of material relating to the stage and the screen in various different mediums from playbills to scripts to audio/visual recordings.
The Scottish Theatre Archive was founded in 1981 and seeks to preserve Scotland’s theatrical heritage by carefully storing and cataloguing material deposited with us by theatres and individuals and making this material available to researchers and the public. Whilst primarily seeking to collect stage and theatre related material there is an inevitable and exciting crossover into the film and broadcasting world within this collection as evidenced in, for example, the BBC Scotland radio and television scripts collection or through the personal collections of well-known stage actors and broadcasters such as Rikki Fulton or Stanley Baxter.
To take an example, those studying film and television or the adaptation of plays to different mediums, and so on, could find much to think about looking at the career of Alan Cumming as represented in the Scottish Theatre Archive. Born 27 January 1965 in Aberfeldy Alan was awarded an OBE in 2009 for his services to entertainment and his role as an LGBT campaigner. He is one of Scotland’s leading actors with roles ranging from Taggart and The Good Wife on television, to the X-Men films and Cabaret and Macbeth on stage. Alan’s theatre career began in his native Scotland where he played Slupianek in the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh’s 1988 production of Conquest of the South Pole, which later transferred to the Royal Court in London and earned him an Olivier Award nomination as Most Promising Newcomer.
The Scottish Theatre Archive has material charting Alan’s career in programmes for plays like The Bacchae to press cuttings charting his film career colourfully titled ‘Look who’s Cumming to town!’ Using our online catalogue researchers can access this information and see associated people and works. In this way the STA allows researchers a window into researching the careers, the works, and the interdisciplinary nature of this area of the creative arts industry.
Indeed, links to film and broadcasting abound in the Scottish Theatre Archive with actors from the screen popping up regularly including names like Sir Ian McKellen, Nicholas Parsons and, memorably, material relating to 8 out of 12 Doctors (i.e. Doctor Who actors).We also hold documents demonstrating the translation of stage to screen, for example the televising of plays by playwrights such as James Bridie or material related to Bridie writing for film and television, including for Alfred Hitchcock. We also hold hard-to-find audio/visual footage of stage productions which have been recorded (either for posterity or for television or radio transmission) and which can also be accessed in the reading room.
The collections and items discussed above are just a snippet of the various examples of film and broadcasting heritage that can be found or traced within the Scottish Theatre Archive of the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections.
Those interested in the relationship and crossover between the stage, its plays, actors, directors, etc. with the world of radio, television and film can find plenty of letters, scripts and photographs to interest and educate them within the Scottish Theatre Archive. We warmly encourage you to visit our online catalogue and see what you can find.
Head over to the Archive Services post to hear about film and broadcasting links in the university archives!
Categories: Special Collections