April this year is Shakespeare month, as his 400th anniversary approaches. Amongst many Shakespeare resources in Special Collections & Archives there is a small theatre ephemera collection [SPEC J10.2] previously catalogued simply as:
75 programmes, advertisements, etc. of plays and other productions in London theatres, 1881-1902, and 6 of provincial productions, 1877-1884.
These highly ornamental Victorian programmes, including productions of Shakespeare’s plays, are now indexed separately by title and arranged by the theatre location and date of each performance, giving a glimpse of Shakespeare as presented in the 1880s and 1890s. There is also one programme for a Shakespeare production of 1879 as part of Wallace Roberts and Charles Archer’s dramatic company’s
Grand Provincial Tour, Assembly Rooms, Chichester positively for six nights only: East Lynne (from Mrs Wood’s novel), Flowers of the Forest (Buckstone’s romantic drama), School for Scandal (Sheridan’s admired comedy), ‘Twixt Axe and Crown (grand historical play, by Tom Taylor), As You Like It (Shakespeare’s beautiful comedy), Black Eyed Susan (nautical drama).
Each night’s main performance at Chichester was followed by the “B side” production: four ‘Laughable Farces’, one Burlesque and the final night’s ‘Screaming Farce, entitled Limerick Boy.’
The London theatre performances have equally Victorian elements, advertising, for example, seats secured by Mail, Telegraph or Telephone, on sale at all the LIBRARIES; there are specially composed contemporary musical arrangements and theatres lighted by electricity, or offering, for the convenience of visitors, a foyer fitted out with the Exchange Telegraph Company’s Tape Instrument. The list of the London productions is:
DALY’S: The Taming of the Shrew (perf. 1893) — Twelfth Night (perf. 1894) — The Two Gentlemen of Verona (perf. 1895).
GLOBE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (perf. 1890) — The Taming of the Shrew (perf. 1890)
HAYMARKET: Hamlet (perf. 1892, 7.45pm) – Hamlet (perf. 1892, 8pm).
HER MAJESTY’S: Julius Caesar (perf. 1898) — King John (perf. 1899).
LYCEUM: Romeo and Juliet (perf. 1882) — Much Ado About Nothing (perf. 1882) — Romeo and Juliet (perf. 1884) — Henry IV, Part I (perf. 1890) — As You Like It (perf. 1891) — King Henry the Eighth (perf. 1892) — Romeo and Juliet (perf. 1895). — Hamlet (perf. 1897) — Macbeth (perf. 1898).
ST JAMES’S: As You Like It (perf. 1890)