On Stage: a Knowledge Exchange (KE) – led development strategy for the Scottish Theatre Archive, University of Glasgow Library Special Collections, was a 16-month project that ran from February 2014 to May 2015. The project was supported by University of Glasgow KE Fund, The Chancellor’s Fund, the College of Arts Strategic Research Allocation, the School of Culture and Creative Arts Research Committee, Glasgow University Library, Dr Paul Maloney and the National Theatre of Scotland. We would like to thank all for their support and collaboration.
The key activities of the project included promoting wider public engagement and back in back in 2014 and 2015 we posted about a series of events, entitled ‘Your Theatre History’, in which the Scottish Theatre Archive collaborated with local libraries for a day celebrating local theatre history. Two events took place in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, (with one event celebrating Glasgow’s political theatre heritage), one at Paisley Central Library and one at Dundee Central Library. The content and activities for the days included displays of material on local theatre and entertainment history, from both the local collections and the Scottish Theatre Archive, a morning workshop session on how to go about researching family theatre history, and an afternoon session, which included talks, by veteran theatre performers and academics, a film presentation and an informal group discussion.
These events attracted local press coverage and drew a large audience with strong positive feedback from participants
“It was a most enjoyable and well organised event which was very informative”
Participant at Paisley Central Library event
Another key activity of the project was the upgrading of the Scottish Theatre Archive’s web presence. The emphasis has been on making the pages lively and appealing by providing a wide range of visual content, together with some short essays designed to serve as introductions to the subjects and to material held in the Scottish Theatre Archive.
Aiming to appeal to a range of users, from secondary school pupils to older generations, the site also includes interactive elements in the form of video extracts that fall into two categories. The first is a series of short video interviews in which leading Scottish theatre practitioners, including David Hayman, Elaine C Smith, Douglas Maxwell and Siobhan Redmond, answered questions about their early experiences of theatre. The second consists of extracts from the National Theatre of Scotland performance archive. The extracts are of five classics of Scottish theatre – Peter Pan, Men Should Weep, Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped off, Knives in Hens and Black Watch.
On stage aimed to bring strategic benefit to the Scottish Theatre Archive, raising its profile externally and developing new research questions and opportunities. Findings to emerge across the events confirmed that there is a real public interest in and demand for events dealing with popular entertainment history, particularly where it relates to local history and experience and the project’s evaluation of the collections has identified several aspects of the holdings that are strong candidates for research funding applications.
The new version of the Scottish Theatre Archive web-site is now live and we hope you enjoy exploring the new and improved features!