|Description||The archive comprises the records of the New Shakespeare Company, Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London, dating largely from the creation of the Company by David Conville in 1962, with a few items relating to productions given at the Open Air Theatre during the 1930s. Production records include those relating to each summer season in the Park (1962-), the Company's British tours (1964, and most years 1970-) and overseas tours (1964, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1994, 1995). Material includes prompt books, show reports, scrapbooks, reviews, programmes, posters, production photographs, costume and set designs, ground/stage plans, music scores, and production administration files. Company administrative records include papers relating to the founding of the Open Air Theatre, its administration and development, including the construction of the new auditorium in 1975; correspondence of its managing directors, David Conville (1962-1987) and Ian Talbot (1987-); correspondence with sponsors and grant-awarding bodies; staff contracts and details of remuneration; production costs and annual accounts, box office returns and educational packs. A small number of records relating to productions staged by David Conville Productions Ltd are included in the collection.|
|Arrangement||The records have been arranged to reflect the artistic and administrative functions of the New Shakespeare Company, and are grouped according to the individual or team that created them during the course of their business. The main administrative functions are represented by the Managing Director (David Conville 1962-1986), the Artistic & Managing Director (Ian Talbot, 1987-), the General Manager, Office Manager, Press & Marketing Manager, Box Office, Front of House Team, Production Team, Stage Management and Theatre in Education Team. The remaining divisions represent roles taken by external, freelance staff, and include the Photographer, Costume and Set Designer and Music Director.|
|Administrative History||In February 1962, David Conville Productions Ltd. signed a contract for a three-month summer season at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London, with David Conville as Managing Director and David William as Artistic Director. The season opened with a production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' on 4th June 1962, and included 'Twelfth Night' and 'Love's Labour's Lost'. In 1963 David Conville founded the New Shakespeare Company, a charity and a non profit-distributing company, which received grant-aid from the Arts Council, the GLC and the St Marylebone Borough Council. The Ministry of Works [later Department of the Environment] granted the company a licence, and the new artistic regime was launched at the Open Air Theatre. From 1964, the New Shakespeare Company presented yearly summer seasons in the Park. The pattern that emerged was a programme of 3 major productions (including at least 2 Shakespeare plays), and in later years a Children's Play, Theatre in Education Workshops, lunchtime productions and occasional Sunday concerts. The Company also undertakes British and overseas tours.|
Richard Digby Day succeeded David William as Artistic Director in 1968. In 1975 a new outdoor auditorium, designed by William Howell, was built with a 1,200 capacity making it one of the largest theatres in London. 1982 saw the Golden Jubilee of the Open Air Theatre, which was celebrated with a visit from Queen Elizabeth. In 1987, David Conville became Chairman of the New Shakespeare Company, while Ian Talbot succeeded him as Artistic & Managing Director. In 2006 Ian Talbot's role reverted to Artistic Director and William Village was appointed Executive Director, absorbing the role of General Manager to which he was appointed in 2003. Timothy Sheader took over as Artistic Director in 2007.
The New Shakespeare Company is headed by a Board of Directors and Trustees. The present day administrative structure of the Company includes a small core of permanent staff, including the Artistic & Managing Director, General Manager, Office Manager, Marketing & Administrative Assistant and Book-Keeper. Other staff are employed on a seasonal basis, and include a Press & Marketing Manager, Box Office Manager, Front-Of-House Manager, Education Officer, Production Manager, Stage Manager, Deputy Stage Manager & Company Manager, technical staff (Master Carpenter, Costume Supervisor, Wardrobe Manager & assistants), and the Company of actors. For each production, there are also a number of externally contracted staff including the Costume & Set Designer, Musical Director and Choreographer. Casual staff include the Set Painter and Set Crew. The Parkfood Company independently leases the catering facilities at the Open Air Theatre.
[Compiled from 'Fifty Years of the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park', (New Shakespeare Company, 1982);
'The Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. A Celebration of 60 Years, (New Shakespeare Company, 1992);