Roding Valley

Shared Learning Projects

Shared Learning Project - March 2020

Interested in Theatre History?? An Exciting U3A Shared Learning Project.

A project has started at Kingston University archives to be based on the Cary Ellison Theatre Programme Collection. A local team from the South West London Network of U3As had their first meeting in February and hope to have completed their work for the presentation on U3A day 3rd June.

Cary Ellison was a talent spotter who worked for Spotlight Magazine and as part of his work he went on twice yearly tours of repertory performances around the country in order to find up and coming Actors, Directors and Plays. The Programmes of these Productions, heavily annotated by Ellison, are now at Kingston University. Thedy cover Theatre performances from around the United Kingdom and the London West End from the 1950's to 1970's when Ellison was touring the country. \He saw up and coming Actors and made notes on their performances . Some of these people eventually became famous.

Interested U3A members are being asked to research various aspects of theatre history based on the Cary Ellison programmes and notes. This is an opportunity to include U3A members across the United Kingdom because a lot of the information is already archived and can be carried out on line and at home. If actual images of the programmes are needed Jennifer can provide them if requested
What is needed is just a written piece to give a brief history of the Theatre and a photo of as it is now. If the Theatre has gone, what is it now?? Now and then images would be great.

It is envisaged that the research will be split into different areas:

1. "Where are they now" which could include

  • A Map of the regions showing were the theatres were
  • Photographs of theatres at the time Ellison was touring
  • Photographs of the sites today
  • Stories of what happened to the theaters - financial crisis,Society changes, decline of repertory


2."To be or not to be" Cary Ellison's talent for talent spotting which could include:

  • A focus on the plays seen by him in a chosen area between the 1950's to the 1970's
  • A study of the actors Ellison acclaimed in his notes - did they make it??

To help with the research you can access a spreadsheet showing the Theatres he visited to make sure that there are enough to research in your area or U3A region.

For further research you can access the archives at Kingston University in this way

link to the archive catalogue here :

  • From the Simple Search page click on Expert Search
  • Click on the arrow next to Words(s) from the title and select Reference from the drop down menu
  • In the box next to Reference, type KUAS75
  • Click on Search
  • This will bring up as link to the Cary Ellison Theatre Programme Collection - click on this
  • Scroll down to the Hierarchy browser and click on the + button

If you are able to help contact Janet Whitehouse through the contact page on this website.