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Iglass plate negatives by Bertram Park and Yvonne Gregory.

Through the kindness of Rosalind Adams, a descendant by marriage of Bertram Park and Yvonne Gregory, the Mander and Mitchenson Collection has recently acquired around 800 negatives taken by these two important theatre photographers. Park and Gregory, husband and wife, flourished mainly in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The plates include studio portraits of Lydia Lopokova, Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies and Sybil Thorndike. The bulk of the pictures, however, are of theatre productions and include some of the most important shows of the period.

There is strong coverage of Nigel Playfair's reign at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and particularly of the long-running version of The Beggar's Opera. Frederic Austin revised John Gay's music, Claude Lovat Fraser designed and Playfair himself directed the production, which played for almost fifteen hundred performances.

Sybil Thorndike's career at this time is well documented by pictures of Henry VIII and Macbeth, both directed by Lewis Casson with designs by Charles Ricketts; J. B. Fagan's The Greater Love at the Prince's Theatre in 1927, with an early appearance by Charles Laughton; and the first London production of Shaw's Saint Joan at the New Theatre, with Thorndike in the role with which she would forever be associated.

John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier are well represented with Gielgud's Richard of Bordeaux (illustrated) and Hamlet, as well as his legendary production of Romeo and Juliet, in which Gielgud and Olivier each played Romeo and Mercutio at different times. Peggy Ashcroft and Edith Evans played Juliet and the Nurse respectively. Olivier can also be seen in James Laver's version of Klabund's The Circle of Chalk and Gielgud's production of Gordon Daviot's Queen of Scots, and Peggy Ashcroft in Ashley Dukes's adaptation of Leon Feuchtwanger's Jew Suss. The photographer Nobby Clark pronounced the plates to be in excellent condition. At the time of writing, the Collection is taking advice as to the best way of preserving them and then making the images accessible.

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Title Annotation:NOTES & QUERIES
Author:Mangan, Richard
Publication:Theatre Notebook
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 1, 2009
Previous Article:Lena Ashwell and The Starlight Express.
Next Article:V&A theatre & performance collections--update.

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