Lord Rix – the actor-manager Brian Rix of Whitehall farce fame – his wife Baroness Rix (the actress Elspet Gray) and Roland and Claire Muldoon, theatre pioneers with the New Variety group at the Hackney Empire, were among more than 100 guests from showbusiness and education at the launch of the East London Theatre archive at the University of East London (UEL).
Listen to a podcast from the launch to find out more, and to hear an interview with Lord Rix and Roland Muldoon.
The project, one of 22 in the JISC digitisation programme, will create a digital resource of some 15,000 endangered artefacts and collections from the rich resources held by a number of theatres and theatre bodies in East London that have made a significant contribution to the development of theatre studies and the perfoming arts.
Lord Rix, Chancellor of UEL, which is the project’s lead institution, thanked JISC for its funding of the project, which, he said, “will ensure that valuable historical resources will not only be preserved but made available for all to see and use.”
The event also marked the bequest of the Hackney Empire archive to the University of East London, a resource which will be part of the digital archive. Other theatres and theatre bodies which are part of the project include the Half Moon Young People’s Theatre, the Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre Collections, the Theatre Royal Stratford East, the Theatre Museum and Wilton’s Music Hall.
Speaking at the event, Professor Andrew McDonald, Director of Library and Learning Services at the University of East London, said the project would make accessible otherwise inaccessible resources: “We’re confident that the digital archive will become a resource of national and international significance and will make this vital part of our shared heritage available to all.”
Find out more about the project at the East London Theatre archive project page