Volunteers wanted to tell history of Georgian Theatre

The cast from a wartime production at The Georgian Theatre Royal are pictured outside the old paybox entrance. This is one of the many photographs from the 20th century that reside in the Theatre’s extensive archive.

Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal is inviting local people to take part in a new project that will help tell the story of its remarkable history during the 20th century.

Through a series of free drop-in sessions starting this autumn, volunteers will be invited to explore the theatre’s extensive archive and investigate material relating to this fascinating period in the life of the 229-year-old building.

The material will then be collated into a published form and made available to visitors.

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“The theatre has an amazing history right from its origins in 1788 to the present day,” said Susie Wood, Heritage and Learning Officer at The Georgian Theatre Royal.

“However, its renaissance was in the 20th century when it was re-discovered, rescued from oblivion and reopened as a working theatre. It was also during this time that some of the greatest actors in the country trod the boards of its historic stage and its audiences contained the highest echelons of society, including members of the Royal family.”

To be able to document and illustrate this period will add to the information currently available to the thousands of visitors that take guided tours of the theatre each year as part of the Georgian Theatre Experience, one of the area’s leading heritage attractions.

It will also be made available as an online resource to those interested in both local and theatre history.

The six sessions, starting on Tuesday 26 September, will cover topics such as important characters in the 20th century history of the theatre; the theatre during the war years; the 1960’s appeals and restoration; and star performers from 1963.

Sessions will take place in the theatre’s Paul Iles Learning Centre on Friar’s Wynd between 10am and 12noon on 26 September, 3 October, 10 October, 24 October, 31 October and 7 November.

Refreshments will be served.

No prior knowledge or skills are required nor is it necessary to come along on all of the dates.

The drop-in sessions are free of charge but it would be helpful to know numbers in advance.

Anyone planning to attend should contact Susie Wood on 01748 823710 or email: susie.wood@georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk