A history of the modern stage in multimedia glory


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The Independent Culture

Why not give Twitter a rest and catch up on some theatre? The V&A has just launched a new app for iPads which examines the history of theatre since 1945. Narrated by Simon Callow, Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays (1945-2010) costs £7.99.

Each play is accompanied by a short essay, first night reviews, actor and director interviews, and theatre stills. The V&A has just acquired more than 100,000 stills from around 30,000 British theatre productions taken by a pioneer of modern theatre photography Douglas H. Jeffery to showcase digitally on the app. He photographed landmark productions of the 20th century including Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain at the National Theatre in 1980, which caused outcry from Mary Whitehouse for its scenes of homosexual rape.

His photographs of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1973 at the Royal Court record the original cast including its writer Richard O'Brien playing Riff Raff (above). Other photo highlights are Harold Pinter's first production of The Homecoming at the Aldwych Theatre in 1965.

Kate Dorney, curator of modern and contemporary theatre at the V&A, says: “His archive is so comprehensive it was the last piece in the jigsaw for us in terms of post-War theatre photography.”

'Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays (1945-2010)' by Kate Dorney & Frances Gray is available to download for £7.99 from the iTunes store