Alongside the play that's being written to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Richmond Theatre a group of local volunteers are also curating an accompanying exhibition at the museum. I went to meet a few of them this afternoon and sat in on their meeting to listen to their plans.
They had some fascinating findings, especially about the early days of the theatre which Ian, one of the team, kindly forwarded on to me this evening. It'll really help as it's very difficult to find interviewees from before the war.
The space the group are working in is relatively small, but like the theatre itself curves round and is designed to embrace. The main body of the story - over which there is, as with the play, still some debate - will be told on six panels leading the visitor from left to right. In the cabinets key artefacts, programmes and literature have been chosen and sourced from theatre collections all over London.
Curation is a really interesting job and I was really struck that the problems the group had were similar to those of a writer. Most of the focus is on what to leave out rather than what to include and different members of the group have a different sense of what the priorities are - should design dictate content or content design? How do you evolve both simultaneously? How do you keep decisions open for as long as possible whilst still feeling that progress is being made? How important is elegance? Consistency? Impact? Clarity? ... and most importantly can you achieve the priorities you chose?
Some of the oral histories we've recorded on our travels might also filter into the exhibition, whether through listening posts or verbatim quotes on the walls. Things are begin to discover their shape.
I can't wait to see the results.