A treasure house of images from more than 80 years of Royal Shakespeare Company productions is being made available online to the public for the first time.
More than 3000 production photographs from more than 200 shows, dating back to the mid-1930s, can be downloaded free of charge from the RSC's new image library. They capture in performance many of the greats of British theatre, from Judi Dench as Viola in Twelfth Night and Ian McKellen as a young Romeo, to Meera Syal as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Patrick Stewart as Mark Antony in Antony and Cleopatra.
The images can be searched via the company's image library in several ways, for example by favourite actor, director, year or thematic keyword such as 'revenge' or 'modern dress'. They can also be downloaded direct from the site free of charge for personal use, education use or private study, or requested as high-resolution for commercial uses.
The library will continue to expand as the company works its way through staging Shakespeare's canon of plays under Gregory Doran's leadership, with current production images being added as they join the artistic programme.
Michelle Morton, the RSC's Image Manager, said, "We often get asked for images of our archive productions for a variety of uses. Since sharing these images on social media, we know that people enjoy looking at and reminiscing about past productions, and up till now it's been difficult for people to access these pictures independently. With over 80 years of theatrical history encapsulated within the library, it will undoubtedly be of interest to those who are teaching the plays, to students who are researching areas such as costume or make-up in theatre, or for our audiences, who simply want to browse some of their favourite actors or remember iconic theatrical moments."
*To view the archive go to https://images.rsc.org.uk
For more information on ways that RSC images can be used, visit www.rsc.org.uk/image-licensing.
Picture by Reg Wilson: Romeo and Juliet, 1976, Francesca Annis and Ian McKellen on the balcony.