Stories From The Gordon Craig

Welcome to the Stories from The Gordon Craig project!

 

Our friends over at The Gordon Craig Theatre have been busy keeping an archive of posters, programmes, photographs and all sorts of interesting things since the building opened in 1975. Locked away in a cupboard, it’s been almost entirely unexplored… until now!

Throughout 2019, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we’ve been working with a team of volunteers to catalogue all these bits of theatrical history and to build a full record of performances that have ever taken place at the Gordon Craig. We’re digitising as much of the material as we can and we’ve made an online searchable database to allow the public to delve into the archive and explore the Theatre’s past.

www.thegordoncraigtheatrearchive.org.uk

We think a theatre is a very important building to have in a town: a place for enjoyment, edification and inspiration for all of the community. That’s why we want to hear more from the people who have walked through the doors of The Gordon Craig over the last 44 years. In 2019 and beyond, we’re making full use of the archive to help uncover the real stories of our theatre and to celebrate the role it has played in the lives of so many local people.

Our new exhibition “Stories from The Gordon Craig” is now open at Stevenage Museum.

Lottery cash is also funding a programme of reminiscence sessions created especially for those in the area living with dementia, available free to local care homes and at Stevenage Museum. For more details contact Memories@StoriesFromTheGordonCraig.org.uk

Do you have a great story from The Gordon Craig? email  Memories@StoriesFromTheGordonCraig.org.uk

Opportunities for volunteering…

Stevenage Museum are keen to hear from those of all ages interested in volunteering on the Stories From The Gordon Craig project from working with the archive, cataloguing, digitising, carrying out interviews and research and helping curate exhibitions. No experience is necessary and training will be provided.

For more information, click here.

Email takepart@storiesfromthegordoncraig.org.uk or phone 01438 218881.

facebook.com/storiesfromthegordoncraigtheatre

Stories from The Gordon Craig is led by Stevenage Arts Guild, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, delivered in partnership with The Gordon Craig Theatre and Stevenage Museum.

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“Stories from The Gordon Craig” Exhibition Opening

Now open at Stevenage Museum! – a brand new exhibition delving into the history of The Gordon Craig Theatre.

It’s free and features new specially made films and interactive activities for the young and the not so young!

Open Wednesday – Saturday, 10am – 4.30pm
Stevenage Museum, St. George’s Way, Stevenage SG1 1XX

https://www.facebook.com/events/696748404489105

With support from National Lottery Heritage Fund and Stevenage Arts Guild and sincere thanks to our excellent team of volunteer archivists!

 

Free Reminiscence Sessions

In association with Bernie’s Nostalgia Club, Stories from The Gordon Craig present…

Memories of… a trip out to the theatre

A reminiscence session using The Gordon Craig Theatre’s archive as inspiration.

  • Join in a quiz to test your knowledge of the stars of stage and screen.
  • See pictures, posters and programmes from the shows.
  • Sing along with some of the best-known musical numbers, performed by the immensely talented Bethan Scanes.
  • Share your memories of a trip to the theatre.

How long:

One hour, with extra activities possible.

What’s included in the visit:

We can come to your venue around Stevenage or you are welcome to visit the museum.

From the 16th November 2019 – 21st March 2020 an exhibition celebrating the Stories from The Gordon Craig will be on at the museum.

Cost:

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, it’s free until the end of March 2020. After that a small charge may apply.

To book:

Call Stevenage Museum on 01438 218881 or email: memories@storiesfromthegordoncraig.org.uk

We’re also preparing a reminiscence box full of fascinating items on the theme of “a trip out to the theatre”. To borrow if for free, contact us.

Public Art Commission

Artist Commission Brief

Background

The Gordon Craig Theatre, originally opened in 1975, is the only major theatre in Stevenage. The theatre is housed in the Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, which is situated opposite Stevenage Train Station and just over the bridge from Stevenage Leisure Park. The theatre consists of two halls: one a 501 seat venue with a tradition of musicals, opera, dance and orchestral concerts, family shows, and one of the longest running Pantomimes in the country; and the second hall, a 1,200 person Concert Hall that shows live music and comedy.

We think a theatre is a very important building to have in a town: a place for enjoyment, edification and inspiration for all of the community.

The Project

Stories from The Gordon Craig is a project started in January 2019 led by Stevenage Arts Guild, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and delivered in partnership with The Gordon Craig Theatre and Stevenage Museum.

The Gordon Craig Theatre has kept an archive of posters, programmes, photographs and all sorts of interesting things since the building opened in 1975. Locked away in a cupboard, it’s been almost entirely unexplored… until now!

Throughout 2019, we’re working with a team of volunteers to catalogue all these bits of theatrical history and to build a full record of performances that have ever taken place at The Gordon Craig. We’re digitising as much of the material as we can and we’ve made an online searchable database to allow the public to delve into the archive and explore the Theatre’s past.

The project’s also planning an exciting new exhibition focusing on the social history of The Gordon Craig Theatre at Stevenage Museum from 16 Nov 2019 as well as collection of oral and video-documented histories.

Finally, there is also budget for a creative response, timed for launch/unveiling/premiere early in 2020, dedicated as Hertfordshire Year of Culture, which is what this commission is for.

There is currently an Arts Council project being delivered that will engage communities with the heritage of Stevenage’s cycle network and the wider New Town story/development, with creative responses installed on the cycleways. There is additional synergy for further artwork and heritage content to highlight and enhance the cycle network for increased use. It has therefore been decided to align with this ambition through an artwork commission, situated on the cycleways, that responds to the Stories from the Gordon Craig project.

The aims of this commission are:
• Provide a creative response to the Gordon Craig Theatre’s heritage highlighted through the Heritage Fund project
• Provide an opportunity for community volunteers to further illuminate valued heritage
• Draw attention to this heritage through increased community engagement along the cycleways
• Contribute toward the project’s legacy through a permanent installation
• Further amplification of the contribution of The Gordon Craig Theatre to the cultural health of Stevenage through connection with 2020 Hertfordshire County of Culture
• Enhance the cycleways more generally to encourage increased use (also corresponding with other related initiatives)

The final commission can take any art form. There are underpasses and green spaces to the sides of cycleways that can be utilised.

Proposals should demonstrate how they will seek to engage with members of the local community. We are open to innovative or unique ideas which encourage us to think in new ways about heritage and the idea of place.

Location

The designated location for this art commission is the cycleway junction within the Fairlands Way and Lytton Way junction to the NW of the Tesco Extra in Stevenage. Consideration for creative proposals can include the south-west underpass if proposing to create an installation that uses an underpass; otherwise, proposals are free to utilise the green space along the cycleway approach and within the surrounding roundabout. Please see photos here for clarification

Duration

The development of the project will take place in autumn and early winter 2019 into early 2020.

Budget

A project budget of £2,500 inclusive of VAT will be managed by the project partners, primarily for artist fees. There is an additional allocation of up to £500 inc VAT for materials and/or related site costs.

Expression of Interest

Proposals should provide:
• A one-page statement, explaining initial proposal thoughts, the community groups you might wish to engage with, why you would like to be considered for this commission, and how your experience is appropriate for a project of this type
• Your CV (max 2 pages)
• A portfolio of relevant previous work (up to 10 images/videos and/or one pdf up to 5 pages)

Please email to andy@storiesfromthegordoncraig.org.uk

NB. For inspiration, it will likely be necessary that you visit: www.thegordoncraigtheatrearchive.org.uk

The deadline for expression of interest is 23rd September 2019

Next Steps

Following expression of interests, Stevenage Arts Guild, Stevenage Museum, and the Arts & Heritage Forum will evaluate the proposals to select the preferred candidate and negotiate agreements by early Oct 2019.

The Project Partners

Stevenage Arts Guild

The Stevenage Arts Guild was founded in the 1950’s to encourage, to sustain and to co-ordinate the artistic endeavours of the people of Stevenage. The Arts Guild has a wide range of members – from the performing arts, choirs and orchestras to floral arts, photographic societies and locomotive societies. www.stevenageartsguild.org.uk

Stevenage Museum

The story of the Stevenage from the Stone Age, its development as the first New Town and to the present day, holding a wide range of events throughout the year for families, children and adults. Stevenage Museum is funded by Stevenage Borough Council. www.stevenage.gov.uk/about-stevenage/museum

The Gordon Craig Theatre

The Gordon Craig Theatre has been entertaining audiences from across the home counties since it first opened its doors in 1975. This 501-seat theatre boasts a varied programme of live entertainment and maintains a proud tradition of presenting first rate opera, dance and orchestral concerts. The Gordon Craig Theatre is operated by a charitable trust, Stevenage Leisure Limited, in partnership with Stevenage Borough Council. www.gordon-craig.co.uk

The Arts & Heritage Forum

The Arts & Heritage Forum is a collection of community partner individuals and organisations, including SBC, Stevenage Arts Guild, and Stevenage Museum, that take part in ownership and action to achieve the aims set out in the Arts & Heritage Strategy, Stevenage Re-imagined. This project will especially work with the Forum subgroup that formed to deliver Stevenage Re-imagined’s public art aims.

Collecting Stories From The Gordon Craig

You’re cordially invited to join us for a cup of tea, a biscuit and to tell us your stories from The Gordon Craig Theatre!

We want to hear from audience and staff members, performers and theatre-makers, both amateur and professional alike: Triumphs, disasters, overcoming nerves, brushes with celebrity, first steps towards a career or first steps in a theatre and, of course, good old-fashioned anecdotes – the highs and lows at the heart of Stevenage’s cultural hub since 1975!

We think a theatre is a very important building to have in a town: a place for enjoyment, edification and inspiration for all the community. That’s why we want to hear more from the people who have passed through the doors of Stevenage’s home for the performing arts over the last 44 years.

As part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded project, Stories From The Gordon Craig, Stevenage Museum are creating a brand-new exhibition built from the social history of The Gordon Craig Theatre. We need your help to bring the theatre’s history vividly to life.

Friday 6th and Saturday 7th September 2019
Stevenage Museum, SG1 1XX

RSVP so we can find the best time to talk to you. And if you can’t make either of these days, let us know… we’ll try to find another moment.

Memories@StoriesFromTheGordonCraig.org.uk
or phone 01438 218 881

We might like to record or film you telling us your stories. Do let us know if you’re not comfy with this and we’ll find another way of capturing your story.

www.facebook.com/events/421792608444473/

Collection Work Begins

And we’re off! Volunteers on the Stories from The Gordon Craig project gave Stevenage Museum staff invaluable support as work with The Gordon Craig Theatre’s archive began in earnest. Prior to moving the collection to Stevenage Museum for full cataloguing work, the team carried out a review of the materials at the Theatre this week.

Our colleagues at Community Sites are putting the finishing touches to a bespoke online-based performance listing and database system that will allow the team to efficiently catalogue the archive and upload digital images. The team of volunteers and staff will be trained on the system later in March and we expect the archive website to go live in June 2019.

 

Stories from The Gordon Craig is led by Stevenage Arts Guild, supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, delivered in partnership with The Gordon Craig Theatre and Stevenage Museum.

To find out more about the project, click here. Get in touch with us by email here or on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Call for Volunteers with Stories from The Gordon Craig

Join Stevenage Museum working with archive material from The Gordon Craig Theatre’s 43 year history.

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Our friends over at The Gordon Craig Theatre have been busy keeping an archive of posters, programmes, photographs and all sorts of interesting things since the building opened in 1975. Locked away in a room in the maze of backstage corridors, it’s been almost entirely unexplored… until now!

In 2019, with support from the Heritage Lottery FundStevenage Museum will be working with a newly recruited team of volunteers to catalogue all these bits of theatrical history and to build a full record of performances that have ever taken place at the Gordon Craig. We’re going to digitise as much of the material as we can and we’ll make an online searchable database to allow the public to delve into the archive and explore the theatre’s past.

43 years… over 100 events in an average year… that’s a lot of material to work through!  

Stevenage Museum are pleased to announce an exciting volunteering opportunity from March 2019. Get involved in cataloguing and digitising The Gordon Craig’s fascinating archive, receive database training, carry out research and interviews and go on fact-finding trips to places such as the V&A Theatre and Performance Collection and The National Theatre archives.

For anyone aged 16+

Volunteering days and times:

Wednesdays: 10am – 1pm and 1pm – 4pm

Thursdays: 4pm – 5:30pm (after school session)

Fridays: 10am – 1pm and 1pm – 4pm

Saturdays: 1pm – 4.30pm

other times are negotiable

Tasks:

  • Photographing and scanning archive material, including posters, programmes, flyers and photographs.
  • Uploading information to the newly created The Gordon Craig Theatre Archive database and online portal system
  • Packing and storing archive material – object handling
  • Taking part in research trips
  • Carrying out interviews and research
  • Helping to curate “Fragments from The Gordon Craig Theatre Archives” mini-exhibition as part of Stevenage Festival at The Gordon Craig Theatre in June 2019
  • Helping to curate the “Stories from The Gordon Craig” exhibition, opening at Stevenage Museum in Autumn 2019

No experience is necessary and training will be provided.

To find out more and to apply:

Email: takepart@storiesfromthegordoncraig.org.uk

Visit: http://stevenagemuseum.volunteermakers.org/

Pop in: Stevenage Museum, St George’s Way, Stevenage, Herts SG1 1XX

Telephone: 01438 218 881

For more information on the project:

www.storiesfromthegordoncraig.org.uk

facebook.com/storiesfromthegordoncraigtheatre

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Launching Stories From The Gordon Craig With Some Very Special Friends

We launched the Stories From The Gordon Craig project by inviting some people with very special connections to The Gordon Craig Theatre into the archive room on Friday 25th January 2019.

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Stevenage Arts Guild’s Hilary Spiers BEM was joined by Christine Vincent, Colin Lee and Dick Hall who appeared in the Gordon Craig Theatre’s inaugural production in November 1975; Paul Laidlaw who has been treading the boards in the Gordon Craig’s pantos since 1986; Bob Bustance who managed the venue for 24 years; patron of the theatre, actress Vicki Michelle MBE and staff from Stevenage Museum and The Gordon Craig Theatre.
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Gordon Craig Theatre pantomime stalwart, Paul Laidlaw, examined press cuttings reviewing his first Stevenage appearance in the 1986/7 production of Aladdin with Bob Bustance and Christine Vincent.

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Colin Lee, Christine Vincent and Dick Hall found a poster in the archive for The Lytton Players’ productions at The Gordon Craig Theatre in 1976, in which they all appeared. 1976 was the theatre’s first full year of operation. Look for the prices of the tickets!

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Paul Laidlaw found a poster for the pantomime Dick Whittington in 1987/8, in which he starred as Sarah The Cook alongside Dad’s Army’s Ian Lavender. It was his second pantomime at The Gordon Craig. Dick Hall found a programme for the very first event at the Theatre in November 1975 (prior to the Theatre’s official opening in 1976) in which he performed with The Lytton Players.

Lytton Players The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan 1975

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(left to right) Christine Vincent, Lytton Players; Bob Bustance, Gordon Craig Theatre Arts Manager 1984 – 2009; Vicki Michelle MBE, actress and patron of Gordon Craig Theatre; Colin Lee, Lytton Players; Paul Laidlaw, actor and director appearing in Stevenage pantomimes since 1986; Paul Ruff, General Manager, Gordon Craig Theatre; Catherine Lomax, Artistic Director, Gordon Craig Theatre; Hilary Spiers BEM, Chair of Stevenage Arts Guild; Samantha Daisley, Stevenage Museum; Dick Hall, Lytton Players; Jo Ward, Curator, Stevenage Museum.

Introducing Sock and Buskin

We’ve been working with our friends at Hitchin based Aitch:creative to develop design elements for the Stories from The Gordon Craig project.

 

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Meet our talkative inverted commas, Sock and Buskin!

The ever playful team at Aitch:creative have given us a cheeky take on the ancient Greek theatre masks of comedy and tragedy that have become a recognisable symbol of drama performance.5347025606_87a53b31e2_b.jpg

Our friends over at The Gordon Craig Theatre use these masks in their logo too.
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Greek tragedy was a popular and influential form of drama performed in outdoor theatres across ancient Greece from the late 6th century BCE. Plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides are still often performed today, centuries after their creation. Greek tragedy led to the development of Greek comedy and, together, these genres formed the foundation upon which all modern theatre is based.

Derived from Greek mythology, the theatrical masks became symbols of the ancient Greek muses, or protectors, Thalia and Melpomene. Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, is often depicted holding the tragic mask and wearing buskins (Latin cothurnus), a boot that actors playing tragic roles wore which elevated them above the other actors. Thalia, the muse of comedy, is similarly associated with the mask of comedy and the thin soled shoes or socks (Latin soccus) worn by actors in comedy roles.

Say hello to Sock and Buskin!

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For more information about the Stories from The Gordon Craig project and how to get involved click here.