Collecting Theatrical Memorabilia - Fred & Joshua Mead
Theatrical performances are, by their very nature, an ephemeral experience. That’s what makes going to the Theatre/Opera/ Ballet/Circus etc, so exciting.
Of course, every performance should follow the same text, movements, choreography and music as rehearsed and set by the director but, with the best will in the world, each performance is, I believe, a first night ! No one performance can be exactly the same as the other. Isn’t that a grand thought?
Many people are happy to experience their Theatrical Evening as it comes: You buy the ticket, maybe dress-up, have some dinner and go and see the show.
Be it a Musical, Grand Opera, Mime or Ballet, your emotions should be effected in one way or another. (After all, that’s what you’re going for, isn’t it? - To be entertained and experience emotions. - Some happy, some sad )
Cheers and clapping follow, and then --- the trudge home – probably whilst looking at your programme. But for some of us, (the theatrical anoraks) this isn’t quite enough. Some of us (and I guess it’s not too many?) try to perpetuate that theatrical experience for a little longer-. A hard thing to achieve, of course- But possibly just achievable by collecting and preserving Theatrical Souvenirs- Not just the ubiquitous programme, but maybe a souvenir pen or badge bought at the theatre or, for the more dedicated, perhaps a personal artefact connected with the performance ? A piece of costume or prop used by the actor, or maybe a playing card actually used by the magician that very night! These otherwise insignificant items then become the only other tangible evidence of a theatrical memory or experience. Happily, others before me have been theatrical anoraks too-(for which I’m most grateful) as all manner of amazing mementoes have survived. However trite they may have seemed at the time, these pieces have now, to some, become valued and cherished theatrical relics.
I hope my own personal collection of Performing Arts Memorabilia (which has taken a life-time to accumulate) will bring happiness and intrigue to future theatre buffs and help to bring alive performances of the past.
Fred Mead, Upminster, Essex
(Photo: Exhibition of some of the author's collection at the Brentwood Theatre, Essex, 2010)