Posts tagged ‘The Witham’

March 4, 2020

More Quinneys Rehearsals

Our rehearsals for the performance of Quinneys are continuing apace – (the play is to be staged at The Witham, Barnard Castle, on Saturday 28th March – to book tickets, click to the weblink to The Witham here).  George Rodosthenous, (Director of the theatre and performance BA/MA programmes at the University of Leeds), and the director of the play, has been ramping up the number of rehearsals over the last two weeks, as the student actors begin to inhabit their characters in ever increasing degrees of authenticity!  Here (below) is one of George’s professional black and white photographs of (almost) the full cast of Quinneys (only Jake, who has recently joined the cast to play the part of Dupont Jordan, is absent…but you can see Jake further in this blog post, below) – in the photo below are, left to right, India (Mable Dredge, Quinney’s typist), Stephenson (Cyrus P. Hunsaker, American millionaire collector), Annabel (Posy, Quinney’s daughter) on Fergus’s (James, Quinney’s foreman) knee; with Samuel (Quinney) and Hannah (Mrs Susan Quinney) behind, and Morgan (Sam Tomlin, fellow antique dealer) to the right.

The cast of Quinneys in rehearsals at the University of Leeds.

And here’s the cast in rehearsals again, this time without Samuel (Quinney) but with Jake Pursell (playing the role of the American millionaire collector, Dupont Jordan) in the centre, on his knees examining a chair – Jake is an MA student, and has immediately immersed himself in the role…being from Texas, USA, himself!

The cast of Quinneys – without Samuel (Quinney), but with Jake (Dupont Jordan).

In the photograph (below) Jake (Dupont) and Stephenson (as Cyrus P. Hunsaker, another American collector in the play), greet Annabel (Posy), with India (Mable) and Fergus (James) to the right – and George, directing the play (but here playing Quinney). In the foreground is an inanimate ‘actor’, (a reproduction ‘Persian’ vase) taking the part of the rare ‘Kang Hsi, mirror-black bottle’ that also stars in the play.

Jake, George, Stephenson, Annabel, Fergus and India in Quinneys rehearsals

Indeed, in this week’s rehearsals we used some stand-in props for the real antiques that we will be using as part of the set for the play. In the 1910 and 1920s, when Quinneys was first performed, several leading antique dealers, such as Moss Harris and Walter Thornton-Smith, provided appropriate antiques for the set – and for our performance at The Witham, we have been lucky that several antique dealers, and also the Bowes Museum itself, have agreed to loan antiques for the play.  For rehearsals of course, we need ‘stand-ins’, and in the photograph (below), Samuel (Quinney) and Stephenson (Hunsaker) discuss a rare Charles II walnut armchair (which will be on loan from the Bowes Museum) using a large blown-up photograph (fixed to the cream seminar room chair, between them) of the very chair that will be in the performance!

Samuel (Quinney) and Stephenson (Hunsaker) discuss an ‘antique’ chair in rehearsals for Quinneys.

We did manage to use one real antique in the rehearsals – a 19th century key, one that Posy places in the Kang Hsi ‘mirror black, bottle’ and which opens an antique lacquer cabinet that is one of the stars of the show (in terms of inanimate objects at least) and into which she has placed a love letter to James – and here’s the very key – appropriately, given that it is the key that opens a cabinet into which a love letter rests, shaped like a ‘heart’!

The key to Posy’s Heart – from Quinneys!

One of the aspects of the performance that we will be debating and discussing in the proposed workshop on Sunday 29th March – the day following the re-staging of Quinneys – is the complexity of the idea of ‘authenticity’ in a workshop titled ‘Dealing with Authenticity’ and led by our colleague Professor Jonathan Pitches (Professor of Performance at the University of Leeds) – so having the actors working with ‘fake’ antiques, and then working with the genuine thing, will be something we might ruminate upon; as well, of course, as what it means to embody, to become, a character in a play as part of a performance.

Indeed, what is especially interesting (for me) is that the fictional character of the antique dealer Joseph Quinney is actually based on a real life antique dealer, called Thomas Rohan, who was trading in Bournemouth and Southampton at the time that Horace Vachell composed his play (and associated novel) – and, as if to reinforce the point, here is Samuel, holding a photocopy of a photograph of Thomas Rohan, of about 1920 – Samuel becoming Thomas Rohan, becoming Joseph Quinney!

Samuel, as Quinney, as Rohan.

And here’s a few more photographs of the student actors in rehearsals – they are all fantastic actors and are performing brilliantly – you will miss something special if you don’t get to see the play!….seats are going fast, so do book before they all go!

Hannah (Mrs Susan Quinney) and Samuel (Quinney) in rehearsal.

Annabel (Posy), Hannah (Mrs Quinney) and Fergus (James) in rehearsals for Quinneys.

India (Mable), Annabel (Posy) and Fergus (James) in rehearsals for Quinneys.

And finally, an amusing shot, from an amusing scene in the play, with Annabel (Posy) and Fergus (James) in foreground, with Samuel (Quinney) and Hannah (Mrs Quinney) in the background, sneaking a look at the two young lovers – (in the play, the whiteboard will be an 18th century  Chinese lacquer screen…..we hope!)

Mark

Annabel (Posy) and Fergus (James), with Samuel (Quinney) and Hannah (Mrs Quinney) in the background – rehearsals for Quinneys.

 

February 9, 2020

Quinneys Rehearsals

Our rehearsals for the play Quinneys continue apace – with Dr George Rodosthenous leading the direction of the performances.  This week George assembled the whole team, including Professor Jonathan Pitches, who is taking the lead on the ‘Dealing with Authenticity’ workshop which takes place at The Bowes Museum on the day following the restaging of Quinneys at the Witham in Barnard Castle.  Here’s the whole team at the rehearsals –

The Quinneys team – back (Annabel, Mark, Fergus), middle (Stephenson, Hannah, Samuel), Front (George, Jonathan, India, Morgan).

George (centre) directing India (sitting) and Morgan (back) and Fergus (right) in rehearsals for Quinneys.

George had the cast reading sections of the play, revealing insights into the characterisations, and drawing out some great performances from the actors.

Annabel and Fergus reading for ‘Posy’ and ‘James’.

Here’s (left) Annabel and Fergus taking on the character of ‘Posy’ (Quinneys’ daughter) and ‘James Miggot’ (Quinney’s workshop foreman).  And (right), George, directing India (seated), playing ‘Mable Dredge’ (Quinney’s typist), and Morgan (background) playing ‘Cyrus P. Hunsaker’ the American millionaire collector, with Fergus as ‘James’.

And another few photos of the cast getting into character – with (left to right) India, Samuel (as the eponymous Joseph Quinney), Morgan, Annabel and Fergus, rehearsing a scene set in ‘Quinney’s sanctuary’ – Quinney’s collector’s paradise, full of extraordinary antiques.

Quinneys actors – (left to right) India, Samuel, Morgan, Annabel, Fergus.

We are working with The Bowes Museum and local antique dealers in Barnard Castle to source the antiques for the stage set.  In 1915, when the play was first performed, several well-known London antique dealers loaned antiques for the set, including Walter and Ernest Thornton-Smith, who, co-incidently (or maybe not) traded in Soho Square, London, which was also the fictional location of Quinney’s  antique  shop in the novel ‘Quinneys’ (1915).  Indeed, one of the aspects we are thinking through in the restaging of Quinneys is the notion of authenticity – Jonathan Pitches will be working with the actors, reflecting on authenticity of performance and authenticity of character in acting, alongside me (Mark) working on authenticity of objects (antiques) and authenticity of identity (of antique dealers), in the ‘Dealing with Authenticity’ workshop on the day following the performance at The Bowes Museum.

To that end, George got me to work with an imaginary ‘antique chair’, examining it as if I were an antique dealer, for the student actors – (that’s as much acting as I am going to do!) –

Mark, explaining how an antique dealer examines an ‘antique’ chair……

Hannah, another of the student actors, also joined in the rehearsals, playing the part of Susan Quinney, Quinney’s wife – here’s Annabel (left) as ‘Posy’, with Hannah (right) as ‘Susan’, reading from a scene in Act 1.

Annabel (left) and Hannah (right) rehearsing for Quinneys.

George and the actors are certainly creating a fantastic atmosphere, and I am sure that when Quinneys is eventually performed on Saturday 28th March at The Witham, is will be a brilliant production!  Here’s a final few photos of George and the team.

George (centre) with the student actors at the rehearsals for Quinneys.

And a final, much more professional photograph, of Stephenson, India and Samuel (back row), with Annabel and Fergus (front).

part of the cast for Quinneys – Stephenson, India, Samuel (back) with Annabel and Fergus (front)

Don’t forget to book your tickets for Quinneys – you can book your seat HERE

Mark

January 30, 2020

Quinneys Auditions

Preparations for the re-staging of the play Quinneys (first performed on 20th April 1915 at The Haymarket Theatre in London) at the Witham Theatre in Barnard Castle on Saturday 28th March are coming along well – we had some good publicity from The Antiques Trade Gazette (thank you to Frances Allitt) and the bookings are coming in well – don’t forget to book your ticket – you can book via The Witham  HERE or the link via the Year of the Dealer Project website HERE

Poster for Quinneys, Birmingham performance, 1920.

Over the past few weeks George Rodosthenous (who is directing our re-staging of the play Quinneys)  and I have been auditioning some of the students from George’s BA (Hons) Theatre and Performance at the University of Leeds for the acting parts in Quinneys. We think we have just about finished casting the play now, and have some wonderful student actors – all brilliant in fact!  Yesterday we auditioned Annabel Marlow, India Walton, Samuel Parmenter and Fergus Johnston – in the weeks before we’d seen Stephenson Catney, Morgan Buswell and Hannah Rooney (I did a few tweets on the research project Twitter feed, if you want to see them!)

Here’s Fergus, Annabel, India and Samuel, from yesterday, chatting about the play in one of the audition rooms at the University, and with George, ‘directing’ Annabel and India…!

Fergus, Annabel, India and Sammy in the auditions for Quinneys

 

Fergus and Annabel have been cast to play the parts of James (Quinney’s workshop foreman) and Posy (Quinney’s daughter) and did some brilliant improvisation (directed by George!) at the auditions. India and Samuel took the parts of ‘Mable Dredge’ (Quinney’s typist) and Joseph Quinney himself. Here’s Fergus and Annabel and India and Sammy reading for the parts!

Fergus and Annabel, reading for ‘James’ and ‘Posy’.

 

India (Mable) and Samuel (Quinney) in the auditions.

The part of Susan (Quinneys wife) has been won by Hannah, with Morgan playing ‘Sam Tomlin’ (Quinney’s brother-in-law, and also an antique dealer, like Quinney), with Stephenson playing ‘Cyrus P. Hunsaker’ (an American millionaire collector and rival to James for Posy’s affections) – we’re still looking for an actor to play ‘Dupont Jordan’ an American millionaire, but will find someone soon….

George introduced some music into the auditions (he played the piano) and we had Annabel singing ‘I love James’ to the tune of the popular 19th century lullaby, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’… (great performance!); and India, Fergus and Sammy all made the parts of ‘Mable’, ‘James’ and Quinney’ their own!

We’ve now got to sort out the stage set (using genuine antiques, thanks to The Bowes Museum!), and work up a theatre programme for the performance, and what seems like a million other things to sort out before the performance on 28th March – but George has already started the rehearsals for the play, and we’re very much looking forward to working with everyone on this one – Quinneys is, after all, the centrepiece for the Year of the Dealer project!

Mark

 

 

December 17, 2019

Quinneys is now open for bookings!

We thought you would be interested to hear that the bookings for the re-staging of the play ‘Quinneys’ are now open. The performance will be at The Witham Community Theatre in Barnard Castle, County Durham. You can book here:

Playbill for the performance of Quinneys at Birmingham theatre in 1925.

As you may know, we are re-staging the play as part of the AHRC funded ‘SOLD! The Year of the Dealer: antique dealers, art markets and museums’ project, which runs until May 2020.  The performance will be by student actors from the University of Leeds, School of Performance & Cultural Industries; the play is to be directed by Dr George Rodosthenous, who leads on the MA in Theatre Directing at the University of Leeds.
   Quinneys was written in 1914 by the prolific writer Horace A. Vachell and is about the life and activities of the fictional antique dealer ‘Joseph Quinney’.  It was regularly performed during the period 1914 until the 1950s – it even made it to theatres in New York!  The character of Joe Quinney was based on the real-life antique dealer Thomas Rohan, who was trading in Bournemouth and Southampton during the early 1900s until the 1930s – for more on Quinneys and Thomas Rohan do take a look at some of the previous posts in the antique dealers research blog.
And as fiction mirrors fact, the play (and the subsequent novel of the same name, published by Horace Vachell in 1915) led to the growth in the number of antique shops called ‘Quinneys’ – we have so far traced about 20 shops called ‘Quinneys’ in the UK…as far as we know there’s only one left…Quinneys of Warwick, which is still trading after nearly 90 years!….
We hope that you will be able to make it to the performance of Quinneys. There is a wine reception at 6.30pm, prior to the performance, where you can have a glass of wine and some nibbles and chat and meet with many people involved in, or following the ‘Antique Dealers Research Projects’.  The Year of the Dealer project is covering the costs for the wine reception and all performance fees and costs, but as The Witham is a community theatre, we are hoping to support them with some funding and have agreed with them that there should be a nominal £5.00 cost for the tickets for the performance – all the ticket monies will go towards the projects at the The Witham.
The performance will take place on SATURDAY 28th March 2020. Wine Reception at 6.30pm; Play at 7.30pm; close by 9.30pm at the latest.
We do hope that you will be able to make it – and enjoy a rare performance of a key document on the history and characterization of Antique Dealers!
Mark
June 26, 2019

Year of the Dealer starts!

We are very excited to announce that the ‘Year of the Dealer’ project has officially started – the new project website is being constructed (thanks to Peter Edwards in University of Leeds, Arts, Humanities & Cultures Faculty IT team) – you can see the new website here – Year of the Dealer website 

The ‘Year of the Dealer’ project is a collaboration between the University of Leeds, the University of Southampton, 7 major national and regional museums (The Victoria & Albert Museum, The National Museum, Scotland, The Ashmolean Museum, The Lady Lever Art Gallery, The Bowes Museum, Temple Newsam, Preston Park Museum and the Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery), together with a regional community theatre (The Witham, Barnard Castle) and one of the UK’s leading antique dealing businesses (H. Blairman & Sons). The project runs from 1st June 2019 until 31st May 2020 and is an ‘Impact and Engagement’ project funded (£100,000) by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Over the next 12 months  the Year of the Dealer will be organizing a series of events, activities and museum object trails, using the research arising from the AHRC funded (£231,592) research project ‘Antique Dealers: the British Antique Trade in the 20th century’ AH/K0029371/1 (2013-2016).

C. Charles, Brook Street shop interior, c.1903. Photograph, Connoisseur 1903.

Through these events and activities the project aims to draw attention to the relationships between the art market and public museums and to share expertise, experience and perspectives among stakeholders and to increase public engagement with the significance of the history of the antique trade in British cultural life.

The Year of the Dealer will reveal new and previously marginalised stories of world-renowned and familiar museum objects through the co-production of a series of 7 museum ‘hidden history’ trails; each trail will have a curated selection of up to 20 museum objects foregrounding the history of antique dealers in the biography of the museum object.  So, for example, at The Bowes Museum, we will be drawing renewed attention to some of the museum objects by telling the story about the antique dealers who sold the object to the museum – this rare pair of gilded bronze lamps, made by William Collins in 1823………..

One of a pair of gilded bronze lamps at The Bowes Museum. Photograph, antique dealers project 2018.

…………………..will be reinterpreted through the Year of the Dealer trail in the museum as a pair of lamps sold to the Bowes Museum in 1960 by Stanley J. Pratt, a leading antique dealer then trading in ultra-fashionable Mount Street, London.  How Pratt acquired the lamps and how they ended up at The Bowes Museum will be key elements in the ‘story’ about the objects. Stanley Pratt came from a well-known family of antique dealers dating back into the 19th century; indeed the Pratt family of dealers were established, according to their own publicity, in 1860, and so sold the lamps to The Bowes Museum in their centenary year!

Advertisement by Stanley J. Pratt illustrating the pair of gilded bronze lamps. Connoisseur, June 1960.

Besides the 7 museum trails, the project will also stage 4 art market themed knowledge exchange workshops and 3 public engagement ‘In Conversation’ events, hosted by the partner museums. The workshops will consider the relationships between the art market and public museums, drawing in historical and contemporary perspectives and will also consider the challenges and future opportunities for the relationships between museums and the art market.  The ‘In Conversation’ events invite key art market professionals, museum professionals, academics and commentators to discuss and debate the subject of the art market and public museums – all the events will be free, thanks to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding.

Other activities as part of the Year of the Dealer project include museum front of house staff and volunteer training workshops at each of the 7 partner museums to ensure that the project research and objectives are disseminated and cascaded to the front-line interface with the public.

We will also be re-staging the play ‘Quinney’s (1914) at the Witham Theatre, Barnard Castle, and are organizing an associated workshop, ‘Dealing with Authenticity’ at The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle.

Poster for Quinney’s production at Birmingham Theatre, 1925.

‘Quinney’s’ is the story of the fictional antique dealer Joseph Quinney. The play and the workshop aim to critically engage the general public with the central role that ‘authenticity’ has played in the art market, and to explore and critique the trope of the antique dealer as a problematic character, often associated with fakes and forgeries and the ‘love of money’. The workshop will be interdisciplinary in scope, drawing on theatre and performance studies and material culture studies as well as the history of antique dealers.

As you can see, there are plans for a very rich series of events, activities and collaborations over the course of the Year of the Dealer project – but we have a great team to help deliver the project – my colleague from University of Southampton, Dr Eleanor Quince, and Vanessa Jones, our project administrator, and my colleagues at the University of Leeds, Professor Jonathan Pitches and Dr George Rodosthenous, and of course all of the curators and staff at the all 10 collaborating partners and a small team of PhD research students to help keep the project on track!……it’s no doubt going to be exhausting, but we hope it will also be a really engaging project…and one that will have real Impact!

We hope to see you at some of the events – we already have some events fixed in the project calendar…so do keep an eye on the project website and the antique dealers research blog.

Mark

Home Subjects

a working group dedicated to the display of art in the private interior, c. 1715-1914

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

An International Conference hosted by The Bowes Museum and The University of Leeds

H. Blairman & Sons Ltd

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century

Museum Studies Now?

'Museum Studies Now?' is an event which aims to discuss and debate museum and heritage studies education provision.

The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

art writing * art works * art market

East India Company at Home, 1757-1857

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 20th century