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Theatre industry figures archives to be opened up to the public

Professional and personal archives of John Barton, Guy Woolfenden and Cicely Berry to be catalogued in a joint project between the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

RSC creative people project 2018
Guy Woolfenden, John Barton and Cicely Berry.

The professional and personal archives of three significant figures in the 20th century theatre industry are to be catalogued and made available to the public for the first time in a joint project between the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

A cataloguing archivist will begin work this month on the 18-month RSC Creative People Cataloguing Project that will see them detail the contents of hundreds of boxes of material collected by John Barton, who was invited by Peter Hall to be a founder member of the RSC in 1960; its former musical director Guy Woolfenden; and former RSC Voice Director, Cicely Berry.

They will include notebooks, diaries, photographs, music scores and reference books, all of which will give an insight in their working and personal lives and the projects the three worked on with the RSC and other theatre companies.

John Barton is regarded as one of the most influential directors of Shakespeare of his time. He died in January. Composer and conductor Guy Woolfenden, who died in 2016, was Head of Music from 1963 to 1998. Cicely Berry, aged 92, was Voice Director between 1969 and 2014.

Paul Taylor, Head of Collections at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “Our mission as a charity is to promote the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times, and the essence of this project is to give a public insight into the careers and private lives of John Barton, Guy Woolfenden and Cicely Berry, who are significant people in the history of the RSC and the theatre industry as a whole.

“We care for the archive of the RSC, which includes images, prompt books, recordings, and printed material relating to the Company and its productions since its foundation, and are very excited to be collaborating with the RSC again by cataloguing this important collection of documents.”

Geraldine Collinge, RSC Director of Events and Exhibitions, said: “We are delighted to have been given these three fascinating archives and look forward to them being catalogued and available for the public to enjoy.”

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust cares for over one million museum, library and archive items in our collections, situated in the centre of Shakespeare's home town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

You can explore our collection, including an extensive local history archive of the Stratford-upon-Avon and south Warwickshire areas, with records dating back to the 12th century, through our online catalogue and online exhibitions, or see them yourself by visiting our Reading Room. Find out more about the objects and how we care for them on our blog and access further information in our local history databases.