Wednesday 16 December 2009

Treading the boards: Theatre in Dundee

Theatre and dramatic productions have long held an important place in the city of Dundee and also in student life at the University.

This is borne out by the wealth of material now being displayed in an exhibition at the University of Dundee. The exhibition features items from the University’s Archive and Museum Collections and also from the Lamb Collection of Dundee Central Library.

Although there have been several theatres in Dundee, the story of theatre in Dundee for the last 70 years has been mainly about the Dundee Rep Theatre, now home to Scotland’s ‘only full time, multi-award winning acting company’ and also Scotland’s ‘principal contemporary dance company’.

There are programmes and previously unseen photographs from the Rep’s own collections which were recently deposited in the University Archives. They include familiar faces such as Joanna Lumley, Gregor Fisher, Duncan MacRae and Michael York. ‘The Tenth Doctor’ David Tennant appeared in several plays at the Rep during the 1990s beginning with his role as Curdie in The Princess and the Goblin. This photograph is of his 1996 performance as Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie.

Also on show is material from the University’s own dramatic societies, the first of which was formed around 1911. The items on display highlight some of the activities during the past century of the Dramatic Society in its various incarnations, drama at the College of Education and the Operatic Society productions. In 1969 the University of Dundee’s new dramatic society – the Waifs – created history by being the first society to reach the finals of the National Union of Students drama festival on their first attempt. The image is from the College of Education's 1920s performance of A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Other items in the exhibition include 1960s photographs from the Michael Peto Photographic Collection that show famous figures connected with the world of theatre, such as the actors Ian McKellen, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith and the playwright Samuel Beckett.

The exhibition runs in the Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee, until 13 February 2010 (closed for Christmas 24 December – 4 January) Mon-Fri 09.30-20.30 Sat 09.30-16.30. Admission is free.

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