Ref NoBTC95
TitleShow of Strength Theatre Company Archive
DescriptionArchive of the Show of Strength Theatre Company, including Scripts, Production Files and Flyers.
Date1986 -
AdminHistoryShow Of Strength is a professional theatre company, co-founded by Creative Producer Sheila Hannon in Bristol in 1986 as a small scale touring company. In 1988 a pub theatre production of Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy (Showboat, Gloucester Road) was successful and in 1989 they moved into The Hen & Chicken in Bedminster. This was their home for nearly six years, where they developed a national reputation for accessible, innovative, high quality work. Highlights included a new play directed by Mark Ravenhill, and a London Weekend Television Plays On Stage award for the world premiere of Fanny Burney’s lost comedy A Busy Day.

From 1994 they moved to Quakers Friars in the city centre, and in 1995 produced the world premiere of Peter Nichols’s Blue Murder, which later had a major national tour. They later heard about an old Tobacco Factory in Bedminster– 300 yards from the Hen & Chicken. Unused for years, with no water or electricity, it was still a breathtaking space and owner George Ferguson wanted to develop part of it as a theatre. Show Of Strength opened the Tobacco Factory in autumn 1998 with A Journey to Bristol – a short, lost 18th century comedy set in the city. It was a promenade performance, with people following the action around the building – mainly because they didn’t have any seats.

In their five years at the Tobacco Factory, they created and developed a much needed venue for South Bristol. Show of Strength's commitment to new work increased, and we produced new plays by writers including Graham Aldborough, Mark Breckon, Moira Buffini, Michele Celeste, Ron Hutchinson, Bristols’ own Peter Nichols (Solong Life starring Stephanie Cole – later a major tour with Bath Theatre Royal) and Amanda Whittington. One of their most popular shows ever was the 2002 production of Whittington’s 'The Wills’s Girls': the story of a group of women working in a Bedminster tobacco factory, performed in a Bedminster tobacco factory. Directed by Alan Dossor, this was so successful it was revived it in 2003 – another sell out.

The Arts Council and Bristol City Council both funded SOS since 1987, but it was always been extremely difficult to make ends meet. In 2004 SOS went through a major Arts Council review when that organisation restructured and reviewed all poorly funded organisations nationally. The outcome was significant change and a period of organisational development. The new Show Of Strength was no longer building based, but retained their commitment to new work and innovative, accessible spaces, exemplified by performances on 6 railway stations across the region in 2006. They've since presented major project in unusual spaces in Bristol city centre, Bedminster, Westbury-on-Trym, Brislington, Staple Hill and Exeter.
ArrangementBoxlisted, but not fully catalogued
Extent9 boxes
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