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Historic Theatre Royal playbills to go on display at Heritage Open Day

On Saturday 6 April, the Theatre Royal Nottingham will be hosting a special Free Open Day to celebrate its two-year Heritage Lottery Funded Archive and Heritage Work.

As well as backstage tours, street theatre and archive exhibitions, there will be one very special display of posters, previously unseen at the Theatre Royal.

As part of its heritage work, the Theatre Royal has been requesting donations from the public, inviting people to have a rummage in their attics to see what they might find related to the historic venue.

Geoff Green from The Nottingham Mechanics on North Sherwood Street did just that and discovered five original Theatre Royal Victorian playbills neatly stored away.  One of these playbills is extremely special, as it is for the opening night of the Theatre Royal on 25 September 1865 featuring a production of Sheridan’s The School for Scandal.

“This feels like a real Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant moment,” says David Longford, Creative Learning Manager for the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall.  “We’ve had some amazing donations and discoveries as part of our heritage work, but to have an original opening night playbill from 1865 is just incredible.  For this to come at the end of our funded phase of the project is so timely, as we can now publicly display them at our Open Day.  We’re delighted to have worked with Nottingham Mechanics to bring these important items to the public, and to think that for all these years they were literally just down the road!”

Geoff Green at Nottingham Mechanics says of the find, “Our members at the Mechanics (formerly Nottingham Mechanics Institute) were surprised at the importance of the playbills that were in our store. When we moved from Trinity Square, some items were placed in the store and we had no knowledge of their relevance to the Theatre Royal. We are very pleased that they will now be seen where they really belong. Although we are not as well-known as the Theatre Royal, we are a few years older.  We were established in 1837 and we are now one of the last remaining groups in the country. We are pleased to be associated with the theatre.”

The Theatre Royal’s free Open Day runs on Saturday 6 April from 9.30am to 1pm – find out more about the event

The playbills will also soon be digitised and accessible to all via the Theatre Royal’s new digital archive at www.ourtheatreroyal.org