One category of material well represented in the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Archive are the items used to promote the theatre and communicate with its audiences. In an earlier blog article, Allie wrote about our fascinating collection of playbills dating between 1793 and 1901; we’ve also seen some of the playbills and handbills illustrating previous posts.
We'll now take a look at how Sadler's Wells promoted itself after reopening in 1931.
Leaflets (also called flyers or brochures) have been one of the most commonly used methods of promoting theatre performances throughout the twentieth century, and are still used to promote performances today. In the 1930s, the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells produced a regular green- coloured leaflet listing all the performances at the two theatres. Lilian Baylis (the Manager of Sadler's Wells and the Old Vic) apparently gave piles of leaflets to anyone visiting her office and asked them to distribute them wherever they went!
At Sadler’s Wells the programme changed each day and the theatre alternated between opera and ballet performances. Performances were given five nights a week (Tuesday to Saturday) during the season plus afternoon matinees on Saturdays.
Another typical method of promoting theatre performances is the poster, which like the leaflet is still used today as a standard method of advertising by most theatres and productions. Unfortunately only a few Sadler’s Wells posters from the 1930s are held in the collection. One of the posters from the time that has survived is one advertising the opening night.
Sadler’s Wells and the Old Vic also communicated to its audience members and others who were interested through a regular newsletter – The Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells Magazine. This included articles by various people connected with the theatre, including staff and management, performers and others. Lilian Baylis herself was one of the contributors. Articles often featured informnation about the current and future productions, as well as news about the theatres and their staff. At a later time, I will go on to talk in this blog about how Sadler’s Wells promoted its performances after the war to the present day.