The world famous collection of theatre memorabilia gathered together by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson has now published an online catalogue. The collection comprises over two thousand archive boxes containing playbills, posters, programmes, engravings, cuttings and production photographs of London and British regional theatres. There are files on every actor and actress of note in the British theatre, and sections on circus, dance, opera, music-hall, variety, dramatists, singers and composers, together with many engravings and pictures.
Inevitably, there is much that relates to the cinema, especially the early years of cinema. There are few documents themselves available online, but judicious use of the catalogue fields yields gems. There is a Search Everything option, and individuals fields for Names, Titles, Subjects, Dates and Keywords. Each search result provides a Brief Details and a Full Description. This is where the useful stuff lies – some thorough catalogue descriptions, such as this for the Palace Theatre in London’s Cambridge Circus, an important venue for Biograph films in the late 1890s/early 1900s, and host to occasional film shows thereafter:
Palace Theatre (Cambridge Circus, London) Collection
Resource code: GB2649-MM-TL-PLC
Title: Palace Theatre (Cambridge Circus, London) Collection
Format: Set plans and designs; Documents (production); Ephemera eg. daybills and flyers; Programmes; Drawings; Prints; Photographs (production); Photographs (venue); Photographs (miscellaneous); Negatives; Postcards; Music scores; Song sheets; Libretti; Autographs; Ephemera eg. tickets; Published material; Scrapbooks; Periodicals; Press cuttings; Correspondence; Manuscripts; Ephemera; Photocopies
Description: The Palace Theatre opened on 31 January 1891 as the Royal English Opera House under Richard D’Oyly Carte. It changed its name to the Palace Theatre of Varieties in 1892, and specialised in music hall/variety productions, hosting the Royal Command Variety Performance in 1912. From c1914 it began staging revues, as well as the occasional cinema shows in the 1920s and 1930s. In recent decades it has produced a large number of musicals.
Description: The papers include depictions of the exterior of the theatre as it was, 1896-c1989, and of the interior, c1903-1912, articles, press cuttings, notes, etc. relating to its history, 1891-20th century, theatre tickets, 1954-1968, a list of productions from 1891 to 1985, an information pack on the completion of exterior refurbishments, 1989, the Summer 1997 edition of Picture House, containing an article, Pictures at the Palace, by Graeme Cruickshank, a booklet, The Royal English Opera House and The Palace Theatre – 100 Glorious Years, An Illustrated Chronology, by George Cruickshank, 1991, programmes relating to charity and Sunday events, 1900-1994, and papers relating to the Royal Command performance of 1 July 1912.
Description: The majority of the material relates to performances and is arranged in chronological order from 1891 to 1999, although a number of items are copies or later reprints of original documents; the earliest original document is dated 1891. It includes a pen and ink sketch of Esther Palliser and David Bispham in La Basoche, 1891, a souvenir booklet issued by the theatre entitled The War by Biograph, 1900, set plans, etc. for The Gay Divorce, 1932, correspondence, set plans, wardrobe lists, technical specifications, etc. relating to a proposed performance of Carissima in South Africa, 1952, and an introductory booklet to the Théâtre Nationale Populaire, 1956. Coverage is particularly good for the following productions: Ivanhoe (1891), The Passing Show (1914-1915), Bric-à-Brac (1915), Vanity Fair (1916-1917), No No Nanette (1925), Heads Up! (1930), Dinner at Eight (1933), Streamline (1934), On Your Toes (1937) including a large number of stage plans, Under Your Hat (1938), Song of Norway (1946), Carissima (1948), King’s Rhapsody (1949), The Love Match (1953), Glorious Days (1953-1954), the Shakespeare Memorial Company’s touring production of King Lear (1955) including typed transcripts of revues, The Sound of Music (1961), Cabaret (1968), Mr. Mrs. (1968), Jesus Christ Superstar (1972) and Les Miserables (c1985-1999).
Conditions of access: By appointment
Acquisitions policy: Possible future additions
Owner: The Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection
Copyright status: Contact Administrator for permissions
Collection located: Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts
Trinity College of Music
King Charles Court
Old Royal Naval College
London SE10 9JF
Keyword: Stage setting and scenery
Keyword: Technical information
Associated name: Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London
Associated name: Royal English Opera House, Cambridge Circus, London
Associated name: Palace Theatre of Varieties, Cambridge Circus, London
Associated name: Théâtre Nationale Populaire
Geographic coverage: London
Collection time span: 1891-1999
Accumulated: 1938 –
Principal collector: Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson
Parent Collection: The Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection
The collection itself is located at Trinity College of Music, Greenwich – contact details from the website.