May 19, 2009

19 May, working day

Today I came down to the CAPITAL Centre and started work at 10.20am. I had three boxes to finish and I got through all of them which was good! As I expected I had become much quicker at entering the information for the photographs and the final box contained programmes, flyers and posters which did not require a detailed description so I was finished by 2pm!

After lunch I went back and looked through the spreadsheet, tidying things up, going back to sections that I had highlighted to take a closer look at, and I made corrections. I then emailed the spreadsheet to Susan.

My task now will be to re-order and re-number the entire collection so that the section that has been at the Modern Records Section will fit into the work that I have been doing. I will begin this after Susan has collected the envelopes, brass clips and materials for me to be able to do this.

I also have to finish writing the introduction to the Northern Broadsides Work which I started and saved to the desktop of one of the computers and it has now annoyingly disappeared. As it was only 500 words I think I will start again unless I call the IT department and try to find the document but that might be a lot of hassle...

I have about 5 more hours to do this week so will have another working day tomorrow probably.

May 16, 2009

3rd International Shakespeare and Performance Colloquium, 24th April 2009

Follow-up to 3rd International Shakespeare and Performance Colloquium, 23rd April 2009 from Sita's blog

Friday 24 April

Conference Room, Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon


Paper Session 3:

3.1 'Who would be toll'd for Wenches in a shew': Un-doing Desdemona; or, New Materials for Performance Research

Carol Rutter

3.2 Actors’ Testimonies as Archive and the Cultural Construction of Success in Performance

Bridget Escolme



11.15 am-1pm

Paper Session 3

4.1 Showtime: Temporality and the Video archive of Julius Caesar at the RSC

Andrew Hartley

4.2 'My travail's history': Paul Robeson and the Roads to Othello, Stratford 1959

Tony Howard

4.3 (Un)settling Scores: What the Archives Can Tell Us about Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness

Richard Rowland



2-4.15 pm

Paper Session 5

5.1 Silencing the Players

Michael Cordner

5.2 And Now: A Choice of Programmes

Robert Shaughnessy

5.3 Eunuchs in Cyberspace: Authority, Amateurism and the Internet Archive

Paul Prescott

4.15-4.30 pm



Visit to RSC Archive, Shakespeare Centre


Visit to RSC Collection, Wharf Rd., Stratford-upon-Avon

Sylvia Morris

David Howells

15 May, working session

Today I began work at 11.30 and it was my first time at tackling the photographs.

Susan came and helped me at the beginning of the session, making it clearer about how I should list the photographs. We decided to add another column into the spreadsheet, the Sub Section. This was influenced by Julie's work as we looked at on out the print-outs she had given to me and noted her use of a Sub Section.

As I began working I began to develop a method of listing the photographs. Similarly to when I started listing the Stage Management documents I was working slowly at the start, finding the best methods of working through the materials and listing them, with the photographs I began slowly and sped up once I had become more confident with what I was doing and the methods that I was using.

I am now clear about the way in which I am listing the photographs and the level of description that I am using, and in my next working session next week I am sure I will get a lot more done in a shorter space of time!

12 May, working session

I had planned in a long session to do lots of productive work today, so I went down to the CAPITAL centre and started at 10.50. Checked in with Susan, told her that i'd really enjoyed my trip to the Shakespeare Centre and she agreed to come and look at my progress and answer the questions that I had.

I got started and then Susan came and answered everything that I needed to know and was really helpful. Then I was left to what turned out to be a very productive session, I finished Box 16!

8 May, visit to the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford

Today I went the the Shakespeare Centre to meet with Sylvia Morris who works in the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive at 2.30pm. Our meeting was very interesting and inspiring.

Sylvia showed me the library and then we discussed the different techniques and methods of archiving. With the archive holding materials from centuries ago, it is difficult to find one sole method to use and very time consuming to tanspose previous methods use to an updated and more modern method. Card indexs, lists, and the most modern on-line catologuing system are in use. Sylvia showed me how the online catalogue works with its different levels, and the way that things are linked such as a particular production, actors who were in that production and actors who have all played the same part such as Hamlet or Malvolio. We looked at the level of description used, which ranged from three words to a list of the entire cast. We discussed the utility of different levels of description and noted that time is a greatly limiting factor on how much describing you can do. I will be describing to a medium level of words and if I have time to spare at the end of the project I will go back and enter more detail.

Sylvia then showed me the spaces where videos can be viewed. Anyone can request a video of a production and can watch it using headphones on one of the television screens. There are busy and quiet times in the spaces, with lots of people recently coming to request to view all of the productions that David Tennant has been in (!).

I was then taken down to see the archives themselves, which was fascinating. It was a bit of a maze and the doors into each room are made out of extremely strong and heavy metal - tight security! Wouldn't like to get locked inside...

6 May, working session

So today was my first session, I was really looking forward to getting started and implementing everything that Susan and I had discussed at our meeting.

I settled in to my workspace - the Writer in Residence's room at the CAPITAL Centre, it feels very official to be working in an office!

I went to the Writer's Room Store and got the first box from the bottom shelf that spreads all the way up the wall and it felt like a momentous moment, the beginning of my archiving journey!

At the end of the session I had finished entering 6 boxes work of material into the spreadsheet and had accumulated a few questions as I was working to ask Susan.

1 May, Meeting with Julie Moores and Susan Brock

This was a really useful meeting where Julie, who I had met with Jonathon Heron at the Press Night of Northern Broadside's production of Othello at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.

Julie had brought lots of information and print-outs of the catalogue and database that she was working on. She answered our questions that we had, and we were able to see more clearly the best and most productive method that I should use in relation to the work that has already been done on the collection.

Personally it was a lot of information to take in and get my head around, particularly the terms used within the cataloguing system as I have no previous experience of working with archiving materials or using similar databases. However Susan liaised with Julie and was very clear about what she thought I would be able to do and what would be best for the future work on the Northern Broadside's collection.

Susan made photocopies of all of the information that Julie kindly gave to me and I have made a file that I can use for reference. I am sure that all will become much clearer when I actually get started and get hands-on working on the creating the database.

29 May, Introductory meeting with Susan Brock

Today I met with Susan to discuss all of the questions that I had and get started on the project!

We sat down and complied a list of to dos and not to dos - a sort of Project Bible for me to use -

1. Always wear Uni card to get through the doors!

2. Lock the door of the store cupboard and return the key straight away.

3. Fill in a slip if taking one object from a box

4. Write in pencil not pen

5. No food and drink around the materials

6. Prioritise logging interesting and useful things, no time to log every single sheet

7. Can group loose sheets together if appropriate

8. Take off paper clips and replace with brass coated clips.

9. Think for each object – What is it? What play does it relate to? Date of production? What else is in there with it?

10. Be careful with dates as there have been revivals and tours, don’t jump to conclusions.

11. Wear gloves when dealing with photographs and then throw them away afterwards.

12. Be consistent. Keep the order of the objects in the boxes

13. If stuck on anything ask for help!

We also had a look at a Project Plan and the schedule for the project.

We looked in the store cupboard where the 20 boxes of the Northern Broadsides materials are kept and took a box of Prompt Books and Stage Manager's files to have a look at and discuss the approach that I will take to listing the items on a spreadsheet.

It was a really useful session as it conslidation my aims and objectives of the Project, I learnt about the correct way to carry out my tasks and Susan and Carol made it clear that any questions or problems that I have I can go to them for help.

We complied a list of questions to ask Julie Moores who is an Archivist who has been working on part of the Northern Broadside's collection at the Modern Records Centre. Before I start my work we will meet with Julie in order to establish a collaboration between the methods that she has been using and what I can do with my range of skills and the time that I have to do the work.

Susan will email me with :-

1. the URSS application
2. Julie's Excel spreadsheet with NB information
3. the list of materials we collected from Northern Broadsides in December 09 with the
items transferred to the Modern Records Centre for cataloguing in red
4. the list of document types

April 25, 2009

3rd International Shakespeare and Performance Colloquium, 23rd April 2009

The CAPITAL Centre will be hosting the third international Shakespeare and Performance Colloquium on 23 and 24 April. The event will consider: How do we use the materials and material traces of performance to remember, re-construct and re-perform performance? What constitutes the annals? And what constitutes true writing? How are performance archives currently being constructed and how are the trace materials of performance being used in teaching?

Speakers include:

R.A Foakes (UCLA)
Andrew Hartley (University of North Carolina)
Peter Holland (University of Notre Dame)
Tony Howard (University of Warwick)
Carol Chillington Rutter (University of Warwick)
Robert Shaughnessy (University of Kent)
Paul Prescott (University of Warwick)
Michael Cordner (University of York)
Jonathan Heron (University of Warwick)
Tom Cornford (University of Warwick)
Richard Rowland (University of York)
Bridget Escolme (Queen Mary College, University of London)

My role was to act as a helping hand during the conference. On Thursday 23 April I arrived at the CAPITAL Centre at 13.15 after having a lecture and seminar, and helped Helen Neal to tidy and clear the lunch trays. We sorted tea and coffee and took out RSC posters from their frames to be returned to their owner. The conference was in full swing so I used the time to make a start on my write up of the work of Northern Broadsides Theatre Company. I used the Company's website to find out information and wrote about 400 words. Then there was a break in the conference and I filled bottles of water for the participants and was then able to sit in on the final talks of the day.

Kate Dorney (V&A), David Howells (RSC Collection), Sylvia Morris (Shakespeare Birthplace Trust) and Jordan Landes (Shakespeare's Globe) made up the Archivists panel. Their presentations were thoroughly interesting and helped me to place the work that I am going to be doing in a wider context. I learnt about some of the largest Shakespeare archives in this country and about the work that goes into the collections. I learnt about the main artefacts in the archives such as costumes, prompt books, photographs and also about the struggles of filming productions with issues such as digitalisation, camera angles and quality. I also learnt about the factors that influence decisions about which artefacts are brought into the archives. These factors ranged from the sustainability of the artefacts, with the cost of sustaining latex costumes being too high when they degrade quickly, to whether they can be put in the reading room and whether they can be put on display. What I found really inspiring was when I realised the utility of archives for academics and practitioners. The archives are invaluable for research into different plays, different productions and different actors work. I am so excited to be involved in such a worthwhile and interesting project!

April 20, 2009

Beginning of my URSS project

It is the first day of Week 1 of Term 3 and my project, ‘If you have writ your annals true: Cataloguing the Northern Broadsides performance archive’ officially begins today. After reading the URSS Student Guide I emailed Carol Rutter, my superviser and Susan Brock who will arrange my timetable, with some questions regarding beginning the project and my training. Susan replied and we have organised a meeting in Week 2 where we will be able to do a Project Plan. I am helping out at a Shakespeare Conference at the CAPITAL Centre this Thursday. I am very much looking forward to receiving my training and starting on the project!

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