TitleUniversity of Bristol Drama Department
DescriptionThe Archive of the University of Bristol's Department of Drama, founded in 1947 by eminent scholar and theatre director, Professor Glynne Wickham. Contains administrative paperwork (personal correspondence, prospectuses, student research) and material related to productions staged at The Wickham Theatre (production paperwork, posters, programmes, photographs and scripts).
Date1947 -
AdminHistoryThe University of Bristol has a long history in the innovative study of theatre and performance. Founded in 1947 by eminent scholar and theatre director, Professor Glynne Wickham, the Department of Drama was the first department in the UK to offer a degree in Theatre Studies. They have since nurtured the talents of notable alumni such as the actors Tim Pigott-Smith, David Walliams, and MyAnna Buring, playwrights such as Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Kane, David Greig, and Laura Wade, ex-student and playwright Kevin Elyot and RSC director Gregory Doran.

The Department of Theatre uses one of the best equipped studio theatres at a UK university, the Wickham Theatre. Theirs is a stimulating environment that is rich in history as experimental contemporary practice, and access to these facilities makes their department unique in the UK.

The exploration of live performance is an important part of the way they approach the understanding of theatre. Practice is at the heart of what they do. Many of their researchers are practitioners in the truest sense, running their own theatre companies and showing their work at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare’s Globe, Battersea Arts Centre and the South Bank Centre, alongside their teaching commitments.

They have strong and dynamic links with a wide range of arts organisations, theatres and media companies in Bristol. Final-year students are given the opportunity to experience workplace environments via placements with their partner organisations. Roles include assistant directing and performing with Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, assistant producing and marketing Mayfest, as well as literary development at the Bristol Old Vic.

Those creative links extend into the regional and national theatre. They invite visiting companies to show performances and deliver public lectures, while visiting scholars and artists regularly give talks and attend student shows. A dynamic and thriving portfolio of partnerships has been established with many leading arts organisations including Arnolfini, Watershed Media Centre, Bristol Old Vic, and the Inbetween Time Festival.

In addition to their links with the professional theatre, their teaching is underpinned by world-class research resulting in a department that has established and maintained its reputation as one of the leading theatre departments in the UK for over 60 years. Major grants have been attained by staff developing innovative research areas in practice as research, archiving performance and developing the Live Art Archives, including such projects as ‘Performing Documents’, ‘Practice as Research in Performance’, and ‘The Chamber of Demonstrations’. Their research strengths are in theatre history, dance and performance, contemporary performance, and adaptation and translation.
ArrangementOnly partially catalogued. Much of this collection is uncatalogued and so remains in the form of the original accessions.
Related MaterialBTC52 - Myrtle Goulden collection
Extent91 boxes + 4 volumes
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