Study Day at the British Library: Working with the Lord Chamberlain’s Collection, 11th February 2015


We’re very pleased to announce our first event for 2015! Email us at to sign up: places are limited, so sign up quickly! If you cannot make the study day but wish to join us for the casual dinner afterwards, email us so that we can provide an accurate reservation at the restaurant. If you can only join us for the lecture, that is fine too!

Anyway, read on for more…

Postgraduates and new researchers are invited to join the Society for Theatre Research’s New Researchers’ Network for a study day at the British Library.

The day will focus on the Lord Chamberlain’s Collection, which is a fascinating resource for scholars studying theatre in any period from 1737 to 1968. During this time, the Lord Chamberlain’s Office was responsible for licensing all plays performed in London and later other parts of Britain, and thus acted as the censor of the stage. A copy of each play submitted to the Lord Chamberlain survives in the collection at the British Library, as well as various private papers, including correspondence to and from the Lord Chamberlain’s Office.

The study day will inevitably touch on issues and debates around censorship, the archive, material evidence and documenting performance. It will begin with an introduction to the collection given by the curator of the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays, Kathryn Johnson. Kathryn will also discuss some of the most important and interesting artifacts within the collection and their impact on the writing of theatre history.

Participants will then have two one and a half hour slots to work on materials they have ordered to view from the collection. All participants will be in a space away from the main reading rooms, and delegates will be able to collaborate and discuss their processes and findings as they work on the documents.  After these two research sessions, the group will come together to discuss the materials they’ve been interacting with  and its significance to their own research.

All participants are then invited to dinner at Zizzi, Central St Giles, before attending the Society for Theatre Research’s evening lecture titled ‘Eventful Evidence’ which will be delivered by Prof. Heike Roms. Undoubtedly, the lecture will compliment the study day activities by offering alternative methods of research for the theatre and performance historian beyond the archive.

Please see the full schedule of the study day and the abstract for this lecture below.

In order to sign up for the study day at the British Library, please email

If you’d like to become a member of the New Researchers’ Network or find out more about the Network, take a look at our webpage:

or our Facebook account:

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Schedule for the Day: Introduction to the Lord Chamberlain’s Collection – Kathryn Johnson, British Library

11.30am: Consulting the Collection – Session 1

1pm: Lunch Break

1.45pm: Consulting the Collection – Session 2

3.15pm: Coffee Break

3.30pm: Discussion

4.15pm: Close

5pm: Social Dinner with the New Researchers’ Network

7.30pm: Professor Heike Roms: ‘Eventful Evidence’ at the Swedenborg Hall, Holborn.

8.30pm: Close

Reconstructing and re-enacting, exhibiting and curating, mapping and walking – increasingly theatre and performance historians are leaving the archive and engaging in forms of research that have a distinctly artistic-performative and often public character. At the same time ‘traditional’ methods such as archival research and close reading practices are considered as performative acts that not just reveal but actually create and figure evidence.

This presentation will examine what is at stake in approaching historical evidence as an event. Do such approaches signal a productive shift in our understanding of how we produce knowledge, especially knowledge of theatre and performance, and of who participates in that production? Or are they mere indicators of a new knowledge-economy for which it has become imperative to be seen to be ‘performing’ research? The presentation will draw extensively on Heike’s own current research on the history of performance art in Wales in the 1960s and 1970s, which uses a range of performance-based methods.

Heike Roms is Professor in Performance Studies at Aberystwyth University. She has published widely on contemporary performance practice (particularly on work emanating from Wales), the history of performance art in a British context, performance historiography, documentation and performance archiving. Heike is director of What’s Welsh for Performance?, a major research initiative devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of performance art in Wales. The project was funded by a large Research Grant from the British Arts and Humanities Research Council AHRC (2009-2011) and won the David Bradby TaPRA Award for Outstanding Research in International Theatre and Performance 2011.