Tag Archives: Theatre

Local and Community History Month – Art and Theatre in Southampton

In this week’s blog post, we continue to mark Local and Community History Month by taking a look at art and theatre in Southampton using our collections.

Hartley Institution

The Hartley Institution – the predecessor of the University of Southampton – was declared open on 15 October 1862. Comprising of a library, museum, and reading room, together with a lecture hall and classrooms, among its earliest activities were public lectures on literature, science and art.

Illustration of the arrival of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, at the Hartley Institution for the inauguration of the Institution, 15 October 1862 [Univ. Coll. Photos LF 781.14]

Illustration of the arrival of Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, at the Hartley Institution for the inauguration of the Institution, 15 October 1862 [MS1/Phot/39/ph3021]

Art and theatre University departments

The Southampton School of Art was incorporated into the Hartley Institution in 1867 to save it from extinction. With no room for it in the Hartley Institution building, it continued in its existing premises in a single rented room in the old Victoria Assembly Rooms on Portland Terrace. From 1902 Miss E.I. Conway, aided by two part-time assistants, took on the responsibility of providing all the art courses required by the Education Department and also some general art instruction in both day and evening classes. The teaching of art came to an end with her retirement in 1925.

 Illustration of the ‘Royal Victoria Spa and Assembly Rooms, Southampton’ from Phillip Brannon, Picture of Southampton [Rare Books COPE SOU 91.5]

Illustration of the ‘Royal Victoria Spa and Assembly Rooms, Southampton’ from Phillip Brannon, Picture of Southampton [Rare Books Cope SOU 91.5]

George Leake, who was the organist at St Mary’s Church, Southampton, was made the first Professor of Music in 1920 and saw his department given faculty status in 1924. After Leake’s death in 1928, D.Cecil Williams inherited the running of the Music Department. Rather than teaching music as an academic subject, his responsibilities included providing lectures in music appreciation and conducting the annual concerts of the Choral and Orchestral Society. 

Score for ‛The Wessex suite’ for a string orchestra by D.Cecil Williams, who was appointed as lecturer in Music and then Master of Music after Professor Leake’s death [MS 101/14 UNI/2/7/91/2]

Score for ‛The Wessex suite’ for a string orchestra by D.Cecil Williams, who was appointed as lecturer in Music and then Master of Music after Professor Leake’s death [MS101/14 UNI/2/7/91/2]

University societies

Performing arts have been a regular fixture of student life. While no drama society appears to have existed prior to the opening of the Highfield campus in 1914, short plays were often performed at College entertainments. One of the earliest student societies was a Stage Society, formed in 1915.

Programme for the University College Southampton Choral and Orchestral Society production of The Pirates of Penzance, 6-7 March 1936 [MS 224/22 A952]

Programme for the University College Southampton Choral and Orchestral Society performance of “The Pirates of Penzance”, 6-7 March 1936 [MS224/22 A952/4]

From 1926 Gilbert and Sullivan operas were held annually in the old assembly hall and conducted by D.Cecil Williams, Master of Music at University College, Southampton. He was rewarded for his work in 1946 by being appointed Secretary of the Hampshire County Music Committee. 

Photograph album of the University of Southampton Operatic Society’s production of The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu performed in the University Assembly Hall, 3-6 February 1960 [MS 1 UNI/7/198/1]

Photograph of the University of Southampton Operatic Society’s production of The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu performed in the University Assembly Hall, 3-6 February 1960 [MS1 UNI/7/198/1]

By the end of the 1950s the Southampton University Jazz Club had become the University’s biggest student society. Weekly live sessions provided different styles for different tastes, with traditional New Orleans Jazz played in the Refectory and Modern Jazz played in the Terrace Room. University jazz bands included Group One, who won the Southern Semi-Finals of the International University Jazz Festival competition in 1960, and the Dudley Hyams Quintet and Apex Jazzmen, who took first and second place in the Regional Semi-Finals at Bristol in 1962. 

There are now a wide range of jazz and other music orientated groups and events at the University. Learn more about these on the Arts at University of Southampton website.

‘Music hath Charms, A Survey of a jazz club with comments from poets’, Goblio, 1955 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

‘Music hath Charms, A Survey of a jazz club with comments from poets’, Goblio, 1955 [Univ. Coll. per LF 789.9]

Art events at the University

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw an extensive expansion of the Highfield campus and a significant development in the profile of the arts at the University. The first University of Southampton Arts Festival was launched in March 1961 by Sir Basil Spence.

Photograph of Queen Elizabeth viewing an exhibition of kinetic art during her visit to the University in 1966 [Univ. Coll. Photos LF788.45]

Photograph of Queen Elizabeth viewing an exhibition of kinetic art during her visit to the University in 1966 [MS1/Phot/39/ph3371]

Art around the University

Among the developments in the arts were the formation of a Fine Art Committee in 1964 and the appointment of John Sweetman as the University’s first lecturer of Fine Art in 1967. Alongside lecturing on the history of art through the History Department, Sweetman was responsible for organising art exhibitions and managing the University’s permanent art collection, including its collection of sculptures by artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Justin Knowles.

Photograph of Puy De Dôme Figure by F.E McWilliams [MS 1/Phot/19/292]

Photograph of Puy De Dôme Figure by F.E McWilliams [MS1/Phot/19/292]

University art venues

The University’s Nuffield Theatre was officially opened on 2 March 1964 by Dame Sybil Thorndike. The national and local press heralded the opening of Southampton’s “first genuine theatre”– the city had no regular playhouse at that time – so the Nuffield would serve both ‘Town and Gown’. A flexible, multi-purpose venue, it was designed to function as a lecture hall, cinema, concert hall and theatre for both open-stage and proscenium productions. The Nuffield theatre developed a profile and reputation for innovation and quality in Southampton and beyond the city,  and as one of the country’s leading producing theatre companies, creating bold, fresh and vital experiences through theatre. On 16 February 2018, Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST), opened a second venue, NST City, in Southampton’s Cultural Quarter with the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s The Shadow Factory.

10 years at the Nuffield Theatre (Southampton, 1974) [Univ. Coll. LF 789.5N9]

Photographs of performances from the programme ’10 years at the Nuffield’ (Southampton, 1974) [Univ. Coll. LF 789.5 N9]

The expansion of the campus during the early 1960s enabled the Students’ Union to extend into the whole of the West Building, providing sufficient space to support live performances at a time when rock music was on the rise. Performers included Manfred Mann (1966), T-Rex (1968), Pink Floyd (1968 & 1969), Deep Purple (1970), The Velvet Underground (1971), Captain Beefheart (1973 & 1975), Procol Harum (1975), and Talking Heads (1978). What most people recall is the legendary gig by Led Zeppelin in January 1973. 

‘Deep Purple’, from Snapdragon, no.1, October 1970 [Univ. Coll per LF789.9]

‘Deep Purple’, from Snapdragon, no.1, October 1970 [Univ. Coll per LF789.9]

In 1967 a bequest was made by Miss Margaret Grassam Sims to build a hall for the people of Southampton. In response to strong local support for classical performance and the need for better accommodation for the University Concert Society, the Turner Sims Concert Hall was opened in 1974. The opening of Turner Sims was to transform the musical landscape of Southampton. It is now acknowledged as one of the finest music venues in the country, with a year-round programme of outstanding classical, jazz, world and folk music, as well as talks from personalities. 

Photograph of the Steinway piano viewed from the stage of the Turner Sims Hall [MS 373/A3048/4]

Photograph of the Steinway piano viewed from the stage of the Turner Sims Hall [MS 373 A3048/4]

Another key development in the arts came when the Engineering Department’s tidal model building was transformed into a contemporary art gallery. The John Hansard Gallery was formally opened on 22 September 1980 and quickly began to acquire a strong reputation. John Hansard Gallery is one of Britain’s leading public galleries of contemporary art and supports, develops and presents work by outstanding artists from across the world. In 2018 the gallery moved to a new location in the centre of Southampton, opposite Guildhall Square, as part of a new arts complex. It was officially opened on 12 May, and continues to play a dynamic role in the cultural life of Southampton and the region. 

A feasibility report and study on a new gallery for the University of Southampton [MS 428 A4250]

A feasibility report and study on a new gallery for the University of Southampton [MS 428 A4250]

Winchester School of Art was originally founded in 1860 to teach cabinet-making, embroidery and leather work. The school became part of the University’s Arts Faculty in 1996 and now stands as one of the UK’s leading art and design institutions.

Photograph of the Winchester School of Art campus [MS1/Phot/19/311]

Photograph of the Winchester School of Art campus [MS1/Phot/19/311]

Following the acquisition of the papers of the first Duke of Wellington, the Wellington Suite was officially opened on 14 May 1983. The archive was the first major collection of manuscripts to be acquired by the University, and has acted as a catalyst for further developments and acquisitions. The extension of the Hartley Library in 2004 provided an opportunity to incorporate public exhibition space as an integral part of the library environment. The Special Collections Gallery was developed for the display of material from the collections to encourage public awareness and access. Exhibitions in the neighbouring Level 4 Gallery reflect three ideas: themed links with the Special Collections exhibition programme; promotion of the research and education mission of WSA; and work celebrating the University’s contribution to the culture of the city and the region. 

Photograph of the exhibition ‘Zines’, curated by James Branch and Cui Sui, displayed in the Level 4 Gallery from 24 January to 25 March 2011

Photograph of the exhibition ‘Zines’, curated by James Branch and Cui Sui, displayed in the Level 4 Gallery from 24 January to 25 March 2011

To see more images of arts in the archives at Special Collections, please check out our online exhibition: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/exhibitions/online/arts-exhibition.page

 

Exploring Arts in the Archive

A reminder that next week, on Wednesday, 14 December, Special Collections will be hosting an open afternoon focusing on music, theatre and the visual arts, allowing visitors the opportunity to view material from the collections and meet the curators.

The afternoon will conclude with a talk by Eloise Rose from the John Hansard Gallery.

John Hansard Gallery

John Hansard Gallery

This event will mark the exciting range of arts related activities taking place at the University and across the city, including: the launch of the new Arts at University of Southampton website; the coming of British Art Show 8 to the John Hansard Gallery and Southampton City Art Gallery; and the opening of Studio 144, Southampton’s new arts complex in Guildhall Square.

Space is limited. To reserve a place, please go to:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/exploring-arts-in-the-archives-tickets-29214641780

Programme:

1615-1715: Opportunity to view resources from the Special Collections: Archives and Manuscripts reading room, Level 4, Hartley Library

1730-1800: Talk by Eloise Rose: Library Conference Room, Level 4, Hartley Library

Turner Sims Concert Hall

Turner Sims Concert Hall

We will also be launching our ‘Arts in the Archives’ online exhibition which will draw on material from the archives to look at some of the key developments in the history the arts at the University.

Programme for the Nuffield Theatre

Programme for the Nuffield Theatre

To view further samples of images from the exhibition, visit our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/hartleyspecialcolls/

Update on exhibitions and events

This week’s blog post looks at current and upcoming events taking place in Special Collections.

Archive Senses
We’re happy to announce that Archives Senses, the current exhibition in the Hartley Library’s Level 4 Gallery, will continue for an extended run. The exhibition looks at Archives as a part of the wide-ranging conversation around materiality, and emphasises the continuing importance of the archive object — not just as a less accessible alternative to the digital object as sometimes perceived, but as a critical resource that runs alongside and underpins the digital.

Wellington papers - iron gall ink corrosion to paper

Wellington papers – iron gall ink corrosion to paper

The exhibition represents the material nature of archives through themed sets of images of such things as envelopes and containers, folds and creases, marks and annotations, the nature of ink and paper — and the space and the labour of the archive. There are also some rather unexpected archive objects.

Ceiling ducting for air-conditioning

Ceiling ducting for air-conditioning

WSA Professor Jussi Parikka has written an introductory wall text:

archive-senses-introductory-text

If you have not yet had a chance to visit be sure to drop by. For more images from the exhibition please visit the Level 4 Gallery blog at:
https://level4gallery.wordpress.com/current-exhibition/archive-senses/


Exploring Arts in the Archives
Special Collections will be continuing its current run of Explore Your Archives events on Wednesday, 14 December 2016, with an open afternoon focusing on music, theatre and the visual arts. The afternoon will provide an opportunity to view material from the collections and meet the curators. It will also include a talk by Eloise Rose from the John Hansard Gallery.

arts-archives

Space is limited. To reserve a place please go to:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/exploring-arts-in-the-archives-tickets-29214641780

Visitors at the Exploring the Wellington Archive event

Visitors at the Exploring the Wellington Archive event

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended our previous sessions. It’s been great meeting you all and we hope to see you in Archives again soon!


Reopening of the Special Collections Gallery
Due to the on-going building project taking place in the Hartley Library, the Special Collection Gallery has been closed since May 2016. We are glad to announce that the Gallery will be reopening in the New Year!

Special Collections Gallery, Level 4 of the Hartley Library

Special Collections Gallery, Level 4 of the Hartley Library

Details of forthcoming exhibitions and events will be posted in due course. Be sure to keep an eye on the blog and check our Events calendar and Facebook page for further updates and announcements.

Upcoming Explore Your Archive events


Following the success of our recent Exploring the Wellington Archive event, Special Collections will be hosting two more open afternoons as part of our current series of Explore Your Archive drop-in sessions.

cook_pstd_3321

Exploring health and welfare resource in the Special Collections
On Wednesday 16 November 2016, Special Collections will be hosting an open afternoon focusing on health and welfare, allowing visitors the opportunity to view material from the collections and meet the curators.

The afternoon will include a talk by Dr Brenda Phillips discussing her research on the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley.

Space is limited. To reserve a place, please go to:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/exploring-health-and-welfare-resources-in-the-special-collections-tickets-29018256386

Programme:
1600-1715: Opportunity to view resources from the Special Collections: Archives and Manuscripts reading room, Level 4, Hartley Library

1730-1800: Talk by Dr Brenda Phillips: Library Conference Room, Level 4, Hartley Library


ms310_61_1_a4023_art-studio

Exploring Arts in the Archives
On Wednesday, 14 December 2016, Special Collections will be hosting an open afternoon focusing on music, theatre and the visual arts, allowing visitors the opportunity to view material from the collections and meet the curators.

The afternoon will conclude with a talk by Eloise Rose from the John Hansard Gallery.

This event will mark the exciting range of arts related activities taking place at the University and across the city, including: the launch of the new Arts at University of Southampton website; the coming of British Art Show 8 to the John Hansard Gallery and Southampton City Art Gallery; and the opening of Studio 144, Southampton’s new arts complex in Guildhall Square.

Space is limited. To reserve a place, please go to:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/exploring-arts-in-the-archives-tickets-29214641780

Programme:
1615-1715: Opportunity to view resources from the Special Collections: Archives and Manuscripts reading room, Level 4, Hartley Library

1730-1800: Talk by Eloise Rose: Library Conference Room, Level 4, Hartley Library

During the same week we will be launching our ‘Arts in the Archives’ online exhibition which will draw on material from the archives to look at some of the key developments in the history the arts at the University.

To view samples of images from the exhibition, visit our Facebook page at:
https://www.facebook.com/hartleyspecialcolls/

Arts in the Archives

Starting next week we will be posting images from our upcoming online exhibition titled ‘Arts in the Archives’ on our Facebook page.

Violins made by University College, Southampton students, c. 1930 [MS 1 Phot/22/2/9]

Violins made by University College, Southampton students, c. 1930 [MS 1 Phot/22/2/9]

The online exhibition, set to go live in December, will draw on material from the Archives to look at some of the key developments in the history the arts at the University, focusing specifically on music, theatre and the visual arts. It will also highlight a number of pieces of artwork that tie in with the history of the University and the development of its Archive and manuscript collections.

The exhibition will mark the exciting range of arts related activities taking place at the University and across the city over the coming months, including: the launch of the new Arts at University of Southampton website; the coming of British Art Show 8 to the John Hansard Gallery and Southampton City Art Gallery; and the opening of Studio 144, Southampton’s new arts complex in Guildhall Square.

Along with the online exhibition, Special Collections will be hosting an open afternoon in early December inviting visitors to view a range of arts related material from the manuscript and printed collections. More details are to follow!

Level 4 Gallery, Hartley Library

Level 4 Gallery, Hartley Library

To tie in with the themes of British Art Show 8, the Level 4 Gallery in the Hartley Library will be hosting an exhibition titled ‘Archive Senses’, opening on 6 October. Further details will be posted on the Level 4 Gallery blog.

To follow us on Facebook and view images from the upcoming online exhibition visit:
https://www.facebook.com/hartleyspecialcolls/

To view our other online exhibitions and for details of our upcoming events visit:
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/exhibitions/index.page

For more information on British Art Show 8 visit:
http://britishartshow8.com/

For more information on Arts at the University of Southampton visit:
http://www.southampton.ac.uk/uni-life/arts.page

The Nation and The Bard: celebrating William Shakespeare 1564-1616

William Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616. As the celebrations for his quarter-centenary reach their peak this month, there can be little doubt of his status as our ‘national poet’ or his central place in English cultural life. While his exact date of birth is unknown, it is usually given as 23rd April – St. George’s day – so we commemorate England’s patron saint and Shakespeare’s birth and death on the same day each year.

Image of William Shakespeare [MB2/H3]

Image of William Shakespeare [MB2/H3]

This centenary continues a long tradition of celebrating Shakespeare’s life and work down the ages. The image shown here is taken from one of Wilfred Ashley’s photo albums in the Broadlands archives and dates to around 1863. A precursor of the tourist postcards we buy today, this was a collectible item at the time and shows a popular image of the Bard and a copy of his signature underneath. Its presence in the album may be explained by the fact that 1864 was the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth – perhaps Wilfred attended one of the rival events which took place in Stratford and London that year. By this date, cheaper editions and penny issues were making Shakespeare more accessible, even to the working classes, although most people came to know Shakespeare by seeing his plays performed on the stage.

The following items form part of MS 98, the W.Gillam theatre collection, which includes theatre and opera programmes and related papers for the period 1887-1949. The archive demonstrates Shakespeare’s enduring popularity in this period.

Front cover of a programme for The Merchant of Venice at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, 19 May 1887 [MS98 A14/2] together with a photograph of Henry Irving [MS 98 A14/67]

Front cover of a programme for The Merchant of Venice at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, 19 May 1887 [MS98 A14/2] together with a photograph of Henry Irving [MS 98 A14/67]

Henry Irving was the famous actor manager at The Lyceum Theatre, London, from 1878-1901. He presented twelve of Shakespeare’s plays and is credited with restoring the fifth act of The Merchant of Venice. In the programme for this performance on 19 May 1887 Irving took the role of Shylock and the famous Ellen Terry that of Portia. According to her biographer Terry achieved her greatest distinction in Shakespeare, especially in Shakespearian comedy, and she played memorably in seven of Shakespeare’s greatest women’s roles. *

Front cover of a programme for Anthony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare Birthday Festival, 17 April 1931 [MS98 A14/38]

Front cover of a programme for Anthony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare Birthday Festival, 17 April 1931 [MS98 A14/38]

This programme was printed for a performance of Anthony and Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Birthday Festival at Stratford upon Avon in April 1931. A handwritten note on the cover states: “The performances in the 1931 festival were given in a cinema while the new theatre was being built after the fire which destroyed the old one.” The festival that year promoted the international movement to rebuild and endow the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.

As we mark 400 years since Shakespeare’s death it is clear that his plays still resonate with the present. This year’s Ian and Mildred Karten Memorial Lecture has a Shakespearian theme: “Imagining the Jewish Past: writing The Wolf in the Water, a play about Jessica, Shylock’s daughter?”, given by Naomi Alderman, takes place on 10 May 2016.

*DNB for Sir Henry Irving and Dame Ellen Alice Terry

Happy Birthday Nuffield Theatre!!

Southampton University’s Nuffield Theatre was officially opened on March 2nd 1964 by Dame Sybil Thorndike. The first lady of the English stage, who had spent her childhood in Southampton, quipped that she was “the oldest old girl on the stage of the newest theatre in Britain” and she proudly declared that it was the first theatre in the country to be built as part of a university.

The building of the theatre was made possible following a grant of £130,000 by the Nuffield Foundation. It was designed by Sir Basil Spence OM RA who worked closely with Sir Richard Southern as consultant for the interior design and layout of the theatre – Southern remained to be the first Director of Drama at the University. According to the History of the University of Southampton, by A. Temple Patterson (1962) there was an “eager expectation that the theatre… will become a unifying force between the sciences and the arts by engaging the activities of members of all faculties, and will play an important part in drawing closer the University, the town and the region.”

Picture of the Nuffield exterior from the south; photo by Henk Snoek, University of Southampton Handbook, 1965-66 University Collection LF 786.3

Picture of the Nuffield exterior from the south; photo by Henk Snoek, University of Southampton Handbook, 1965-66 University Collection LF 786.3

The national and local press heralded the opening of Southampton’s “first genuine theatre”– the city had no regular playhouse at that time – so the Nuffield would serve both ‘Town and Gown’. A flexible, multi-purpose venue, it was designed to function as a lecture hall, cinema, concert hall and theatre for both open-stage and proscenium productions. The newspaper reports played up the technical brilliance of the new facilities: the forestage could be raised and lowered in two sections to provide an orchestra pit; and there was an electrically adjustable paint-frame and a cloth cyclorama which, according to The Times, unfurled around the back wall “like a sail being hoisted”; and as for the striking modern exterior: “It rears above them like a two-humped monster – a pair of vertically-seamed copper-clad towers, already known locally as ‘the gas-holder’ and ‘the armadillo’ ”; fortunately, however, “The austerity of the interior is relieved by purple carpeting, bright purple seats, and a magenta curtain” (The Times, 6 January 1964).

The early theatre programmes were equally bold to chime with this startling ‘60s colour scheme:

Nuffield Theatre Autumn Season 1964 programme cover MS 291 A3096/2

Nuffield Theatre Autumn Season 1964 programme cover MS 291 A3096/2

Nuffield Theatre The Caretaker, programme 12-13 June 1964

Nuffield Theatre The Caretaker, programme 12-13 June 1964

The first play to be performed at the theatre was certainly traditional: the nation was celebrating Shakespeare’s quarter-centenary and so it was fitting that a professional company from Salisbury Playhouse opened both the new theatre, and the Southampton Arts Festival, with performances of Twelfth Night. Reviews were mixed but the future was clearly bright for the Nuffield.