Open Air Theatre
DIGITAL ARCHIVE TO GIVE FREE ACCESS TO THE ICONIC VENUE’S HISTORY
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre today launches a Heritage Project with a dedicated website allowing unprecedented access to the theatre’s archives.
For the first time in Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 83 year history, access to the venue’s archives will be made available for everyone with a free digital archive. The collection comprises items relating to productions dating back to the 1930’s including, programmes, photographs, posters and production designs. As part of a long-term heritage project, material from these archives will be digitalized, preserving the delicate printed material for future generations.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has welcomed many of the country’s most beloved actors, directors and creative teams over its rich history, some relatively unknown at the time but who have gone to illustrious careers on stage and film. The website launches with a detailed catalogue of four well-known theatre alumni; Dame Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Bonneville and Janie Dee. Visitors to the website will be able to delve into the actors’ relationship with the iconic venue, viewing previously unseen production images and programmes. Each quarter, there will be a new focus on an aspect of the theatre’s history.
Opening in 1932 with a production of Twelfth Night, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is the oldest, professional, permanent outdoor theatre in Britain. Over the past 83 years the theatre has grown and developed to become a firm fixture for summer in London with over 140,000 people attending four annual productions between May and September. Under Artistic Director Timothy Sheader, 2015 saw a hugely successful season including productions of Peter Pan, The Seagull, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Lord of The Flies.
Actor Hugh Bonneville, who made his professional stage debut at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, said: ‘I’m delighted that, thanks to this wonderful new initiative, the Open Air Theatre’s archive – a flavour of past productions and a Who’s Who of the theatre makers who have been part of its rich history – is being brought to life.’
Trustee of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Judi Dench DBE says ‘I am thrilled that Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre are launching a Heritage Project to make their fascinating history available to all. I have enjoyed a long association with the theatre, and I am sure that anyone who has worked there, or who has seen a production there, have their own memories of special times in that unique venue. To bring their archive collection together online for the first time will offer a wonderful opportunity to find out more about their past, but will secure that history for generations to come. Robert Atkins would be so pleased.’
The JCL Trust is a Founding Sponsor of the Open Air Theatre Heritage Project. Funding has also been provided by an anonymous donation and money raised from staff members participating the in Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon. However, with such a wealth of collateral still to digitalize, donations to help fund the project can be made atwww.openairtheatre.com/donations-booking.
The theatre is also looking for donations of historic material, especially for the period 1932 – 1962, where current archives are limited. Please contact [email protected] to make contributions to the archive.