Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The New Life

Since my last post, a lot has changed for me: country, job and flat!  It has been a busy and stressful month or so but I am pleased to say that I am settling in well to my new role as the National Theatre Archive Assistant in London.

The NT runs an annual post for those wishing to pursue the Masters in Archives and Records Management and I can truthfully say, after a week and a half in the job, that it is a thorough and hands-on approach to the archive world!

Royal National Theatre
The National Theatre on the South Bank

The NT Archive is an institutional archive for all productions and administrative materials of the theatre, which was founded in 1963.  Our most commonly consulted materials are production recordings, press reviews, programmes, production and rehearsal photographs, technical materials, prompt scripts and costume bibles.  There are also architectural materials, the odd prop (including very exciting (and a bit freaky) puppets from 'His Dark Materials' (2004)) and theatre posters etc.  It really is a very diverse collection and I am beginning to see the variety of researchers that the archive attracts: from Cumberbatch fans wanting to watch 'Frankenstein' (2011) since the NT Archive is the only place in the world with the recording, to researchers studying the changing shape of the actress at the National Theatre from 1963 to the modern day.

As a completely non-theatre buff, it is a steep learning curve but the incredibly welcoming staff and bustling building make for a wonderful work environment.  Theatre archives are pretty different to the academic archives of my previous experience, not least since LC is pretty much irrelevant, most of the popular material is digitised and the researchers are a lot more diverse.  I am getting to grips with CALM for once (and am pretty pleased since most job descriptions want experience of it) and taking on a lot of the administrative roles of an archive.

I now live near Richmond Park...of the famous Fenton video

But the past few weeks haven't just been about the job.  I have also moved to London for the first time and that has been a massive shock to the system.  I believed that when I went to the US I would see a culture shock and, to an extent, I did, but it was nothing compared to the shock of returning.  London can be a rather anonymous and uncrackable city - I suppose that it will just take time to get to terms with the different methods of communication and forging relationships.  I had just gotten used to rocking up to BBQs or campfires where you barely knew a soul and introducing yourself and your Scottish accent carrying you through conversations until you had made some new friends...I am not sure how well that would fly in London.  I could always give it a go on the train commute in the least I might clear enough of the carriage to get myself a seat...

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