National Theatre

National Theatre

In 2015 a new collaboration was established between CCW and the National Theatre’s Archive in relation to Jocelyn Herbert’s Archive, which, between 2008-14, was housed at Wimbledon College of Art, where, thanks to the generosity of the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation, it was catalogued and the drawings were digitised. As well as being mined by staff and students for exhibitions and study related to course work, it was used by external researchers and for UAL graduate and doctoral research. Collaborative relationships were established with the University of Stirling, where Lindsay Anderson’s archive is held, the University of Reading in relation to Samuel Beckett’s archive, the V & A, which holds the archive of the English Stage Company (and which currently has several of Jocelyn’s Oresteia masks on exhibit) and with the Archive of Performance in Greek and Roman Drama at the University of Oxford (all this is documented on the Jocelyn Herbert Archive website http://www.jocelynherbert.org/).  CCW continues its relationship with Jocelyn’s Archive now that it has moved to the National Theatre, most recently exemplified by Jocelyn Herbert and Samuel Beckett, an exhibition in March 2015 at Wimbledon Space curated by students on the MA Theatre Design and Curating and Collections course, subsequently shown in the National Theatre’s Archive Study room.

In June 2015 Walter Asmus gave the Jocelyn Herbert Lecture, The Art of Beckett in the Lyttelton Theatre. He was the fourth speaker in the lecture series, preceded by Richard Eyre, ULTZ and Christopher Hampton. As well as commemorating Jocelyn, the June event celebrated the housing of Jocelyn’s Archive in its new home at the National Theatre.  Walter Asmus met Samuel Beckett at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin in 1974 and they went on to collaborate on renowned productions in Europe and America.  Asmus is an apt speaker as Jocelyn Herbert was another of Beckett’s close collaborators, one he described as “my closest friend in England” and they worked together many times.  Beckett’s work is also an appropriate bridge linking Herbert with the National Theatre as it was for the National, then at the Old Vic, that she designed Play in 1964, with Robert Stephens, Rosemary Harris and Billie Whitelaw encased in the urns.

The new partnership will provide opportunities for various types of research and collaboration between the two organisations.

Erin Lee, National Theatre Achivist writes:

The National Theatre Archive is delighted to host the collection of Jocelyn Herbert, which complements the existing NT Archive collections by offering a unique insight into the world of the theatre designer and the relationships that develop during a production.  The NT Archive aims to document, preserve and make available the history and continuing activities of the National Theatre. 

Herbert’s Archive, collected throughout her long and varied career, is the only archive of a designer that the NT Archive holds and, as such, is becoming an important and valuable teaching and learning resource. At the National Theatre, we have a particular desire to archive theatre making as well as the end product of a performance and Herbert’s Archive fits perfectly with this focus.

A part of the collection that I find fascinating is the correspondence surrounding Herbert’s work with the National Theatre.  She was heavily involved with the National Theatre in its early years, during the 1960s and 1970s, and was a member of the Building Committee, which oversaw the construction of the National Theatre on the Southbank, designed by the architect Denys Lasdun.  Herbert’s collection helps us to piece together these early days of the National and catch a glimpse of what it was like to be involved in the shaping of the auditoria and the creation of what is now a Grade II listed building.  Herbert’s collection augments the administrative material, which the NT Archive holds, and provides a more personal perspective to this period in the National’s history.

The catalogue of the Jocelyn Herbert Archive is available online http://catalogue.nationaltheatre.org.uk/CalmView/.  The Archive is situated at the NT Studio near Waterloo and is open to everyone by appointment:

http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/discover-more/archive.

 

For more information see http://www.jocelynherbert.org/ or contact Professor Eileen Hogan, CCW Graduate School