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Patrick Robertson and Rosemary Vercoe theatre design collection

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This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371
Dates of Creation c. 1950s-1980s
Name of Creator Patrick Robertson and Rosemary Vercoe
Language of Material English
Physical Description 2 boxes (19 folders and 2 volumes)and 12 oversized items

Scope and Content

This collection comprises of materials relating to the theatre and costume design careers of Patrick Robertson and Rosemary Vercoe. Materials include costume, prop and set designs, mock-ups and pieces of set-models, production notebooks, production and research photographs and materials, stage design plans and production promotion items.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born to an Anglo-Irish father, Robertson was a night-time navigator during the Second World War and went on to study architecture at Cambridge, where his involvement with student theatrical productions introduced him to theatre design.

In 1950 he moved to Bristol and began working as a scene painter at the Old Vic Theatre, for a while living in the same house as Peter O'Toole. He became resident designer at the Old Vic, developing a signature style of sparse, economic sets which allowed key details to stand out. Some notable productions from this period include Much Ado About Nothing (1954) and The Crucible (1954). During this period the British designer Rosemary Vercoe was also working at the Old Vic as a scenery and costume designer. They eventually married after the breakdown of Robertson's first marriage.

Rosemary Vercoe worked as a theatre designer, predominantly working in costume design. Prior to her time in Bristol she had worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1940s as costume designer for productions such as The Taming of the Shrew and as a some-time performer.

The couple moved to Nottingham, where they both started working at the Playhouse Theatre. Here they were first introduced to Jonathan Miller, beginning a series of collaborations which would run to over 20 productions, including King Lear (1969), Danton's Death (1971), The School for Scandal (1972), The Cunning Little Vixen (1975) and The Turn of the Screw (1979).

Robertson and Vercoe relocated to London with their family and worked together on such productions as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Doctor's Dilemma and The Three Sisters.

Perhaps their best known collaboration was for the English National Opera's landmark 1982 production of Verdi's Rigoletto, taking inspiration from 1950s Italian-American mafia, New York tenements and Art Deco. The production has been revived a dozen times.

Robertson died in 2009.

Arrangement

These files are arranged alphabetically by production title.

This collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • THM/371/1 - The Cunning Little Vixen
  • THM/371/2 - Danton's Death
  • THM/371/3 - The Importance of Being Earnest
  • THM/371/4 - King Arthur
  • THM/371/5 - Macbeth
  • THM/371/6 - Oedipus Tyrannus
  • THM/371/7 - Of Mice and Men
  • THM/371/8 - Othello
  • THM/371/9 - Rigoletto
  • THM/371/10 - The Taming of the Shrew
  • THM/371/11 - The Turn of the Screw
  • THM/371/12 - Waiting for Godot

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for consultation in the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance's Reading Room, which is located at Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, Olympia, London, W14 0QX. The Reading Room is open Tuesday to Friday between 10.15 am and 4.30 pm. Access to it is by appointment only. To request an appointment please email tmenquiries@vam.ac.uk or telephone 020 7942 2698.

Access to some of these files may be restricted. These are identified at file level.

Conditions Governing Use

Archival material may not be photocopied. Arrangements can be made to photograph material in the reading room using non-flash photography.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

These series have been arranged alphabetically by production title, since not all of productions have been dated.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Theatre and Performance Department. Material relating to the productions mentioned in this catalogue may be found in several collections, including the productions and photographs files. Further information on Vercoe and Robertson may also be found in the biographical and library collections.

An original set-model for The Turn of the Screw is held at the V&A Theatre and Performance department archives, London (museum number s.807-1984)

Please ask for details.

Subjects

Set designers -- Great Britain
Costume design -- Great Britain

Personal Names

Vercoe, Rosemary
Robertson, Patrick

Cataloguing Info

Title Patrick Robertson and Rosemary Vercoe theatre design collection
Creation Created by Veronica Castro using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2012-04-04
Revisions

The Cunning Little Vixen

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/1
Dates of Creation 1975
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains 30 sheets of full colour pen and ink costume designs for The Cunning Little Vixen. These designs are undated.

Robertson and Vercoe designed Jonathan Miller's production of Leoš Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen for the 1975 Glyndebourne Opera Festival.

Personal Names

Janáček, Leoš. ( 1854-1928)
Miller, Jonathan. ( b.1934)

Geographical Names

Glyndebourne, East Sussex

Danton's Death

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/2
Dates of Creation 1971
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains 18 pen drawings and draft versions of set and stage mechanisms, some of which are annotated. These materials are undated.

Robertson and Vercoe designed Jonathan Miller's 1971 production of Georg Büchner's Danton's Death for the National Theatre at the Old Vic Theatre, London.

Personal Names

Miller, Jonathan. ( b. 1934)
Büchner, Georg. ( 1813-1837)

Geographical Names

Old Vic Theatre, London

The Importance of Being Earnest

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/3
Dates of Creation 1975
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains two sheets of full-colour costume designs for The Importance of Being Ernest. These designs are undated.

Robertson and Vercoe designed Jonathan Miller's 1975 production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest at the Greenwich Theatre, London.

Personal Names

Miller, Jonathan. ( b. 1934)
Wilde, Oscar. ( 1854-1900)

King Arthur

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/4
Dates of Creation unknown
Physical Description 3 folders

Scope and Content

These folders contain production photographs, set and stage prop designs and set-model pieces. All items are undated.

The details for this production are unknown.


Production photographs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/4/1
Dates of Creation unknown
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains four black and white production photographs for King Arthur, undated.


Set and stage prop designs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/4/2
Dates of Creation unknown
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains various full-colour set and stage prop designs, annotated and undated.


Set-model pieces

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/4/3
Dates of Creation unknown
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains various full-colour set-model pieces.


Macbeth

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/5
Dates of Creation unknown
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains seven black and white production photographs for a production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, undated.

The details for this production are unknown.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564-1616)

Oedipus Tyrannus

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/6
Dates of Creation 1949
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains full colour set and prop designs and set diagrams, some of which are signed. Also included are various set-model pieces. All materials are undated.

The details for this production are unknown.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Some of these materials are outsize


Stage plot diagram

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/6/1
Dates of Creation 1949
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains two large stage plot design plans, undated.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

These items are outsize.


Set designs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/6/2
Dates of Creation 1949
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains various full-colour set and backdrop designs, some of which are signed by the artist. All designs are undated.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

These items are outsize.


Set-model pieces

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/6/3
Dates of Creation 1949
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains various full-colour set-model pieces.


Of Mice and Men

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/7
Dates of Creation 1951
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a small pen and ink set design. This design is undated.

Robertson designed Denis Carey's 1951 production of Of Mice and Men based on the novel by John Steinbeck at the Old Vic Theatre, Bristol.

Personal Names

Steinbeck, John. ( 1902-1968)

Geographical Names

Theatre Royal, Bristol

Othello

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/8
Dates of Creation unknown
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains 39 full-colour costume designs for Othello in pencil, watercolour and charcoal. All designs are annotated on reverse with fabric ideas and costings and one has a fabric swatch attached. Included with these are magazine clippings used as reference material. All materials are undated.

Vercoe designed the costumes for this production of William Shakespeare's Othello. Further production details are unknown.

Personal Names

Shakespeare, William. ( 1564-1616)

Rigoletto

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/9
Dates of Creation 1982
Physical Description 6 folders

Scope and Content

These folders contain materials related to Jonathan Miller's 1982 production of Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto for the English National Opera at the Coliseum, designed by Robertson and Vercoe.

Personal Names

Miller, Jonathan. ( b. 1934)
Giuseppe, Verdi. ( 1813-1901)

Corporate Names

English National Opera

Geographical Names

Coliseum Theatre, London

Costume designs

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/9/1
Dates of Creation 1982
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains eight full colour sheets of costume designs by Vercoe. All are annotated and have fabric swatches attached. These designs have been signed by Vercoe.


Stage and hanging plot diagrams

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/371/9/2
Dates of Creation 1982
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains two large stage design plans drawn by Geoff Ogler. Dated 1982.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

These items are oversize.