Aims, policies, purpose/impetus for project:
The idea for the project grew out of customer response to the re-opening of Theatre Royal Winchester in 2001 following a closure period of nearly 6 years for refurbishment. Just before the opening itself we took part in the Heritage Open Weekend and showed in excess of 4000 people around the building in a weekend. Those of us doing the tours continually heard snippets of stories from people who told us that they had special memories of the theatre. We applied to the Local Heritage Initiative (HLF) and received funding to undertake an Oral History project with additional aspects.
The aim of the project was to capture people's stories and some of the ‘hidden history' of the theatre which had had a mixed history as an hotel, cine-variety theatre, cinema and theatre.
Dates: Started in 2005.
Project is just nearing completion with the major outcome of a book being published later this year (2009).
Key individuals and roles involved
A large team of volunteers inc. interviewers Ron Cruse, Maurice Charrett, Phil Yates and David Selby and Sharon Wilson, Nicky Taylor, Ingrid Ryder and Angela Jackson who transcribed. Numerous others helped sort and catalogue archive material and prepare education packs etc.
Paid or voluntary, training in oral history: All voluntary.
The interviewers, and several others involved in the project attended an Oral History Training Day at the Hampshire Record Office.
Project funded by:
Local Heritage Initiative (HLF)
Grant from Old Possum's Practical Trust to create an Education Pack
Society for Theatre Research - grant to Madelaine Smith
Management of project:
By Madelaine Smith (Previously Marketing Manager of Theatre Royal Winchester) & Phil Yates (Theatre Archivist) on a voluntary basis
Format of interviews:
Audio Cassettes with a couple done as Digital Recordings
How interviewees are selected and located:
Making contacts with past employees and volunteers. Putting out news stories trying to find people locally. The interviews were very much about the experience of working at and saving the theatre rather than actors giving their impressions of the theatre.
Interview running time:
Varies enormously from 12 minutes to 90 minutes.
Copyright in interviews. Assignment rights?:
The interviewees own copyright of interviews. Forms signed to assign various rights to the project and the Wessex Sound Archive.
Location of interview copies. Accessibility to public/format:
Wessex Film & Sound Archive at the Hampshire Record Office
Collection contact details/website:
The online catalogue can be searched using the key words ‘Theatre+ Winchester' and choosing sound recording as the type.
Interview transcripts/lists of topics or other content indexes:
The majority of the tapes were transcribed though not all.
Cataloguing: Wessex Sound Archive is cataloguing
Future plans for project/interviews?:
No, apart from being available via the Sound Archive for future students etc. We also lodged a collection of programmes and other documents with the Hampshire Record Office to create a fuller archive.
Materials used for publications, exhibitions, conferences, radio/TV programmes or performances etc or future plans for this?:
∑ Book as mentioned above is nearing completion
∑ Education Pack yet to be created
∑ Interpretation panel in theatre & short history on website
∑ Local Heritage Initiative website archive
Once we have published book and Education pack the project will be at an end.
List on a joint (possibly STR) website: No thanks
Join listserv/emailing list/forum: No response
Phil Yates the Theatre Archivist did over the years make a number of recordings with actors visiting the theatre and also Winchester residents. No permission forms were ever signed for these forms so not aware of the copyright situation
List of interviewees provided: Yes
Oral History Survey Pages
Index of Projects
28th April 2009