Our invitation to gift your memory to the collection

So, at the last Heritage Sandbox workshop we started working on some press copy to publicise The Memory of Theatre. I’m sharing those notes here:

Performances are ephemeral, their heritage disappears, but theatre has an afterlife through the stories we tell about it. The Memory of Theatre invites audiences to return their memories of past performances to Bristol Old Vic and enables future audiences to hear the stories of these events where they originally happened, using a novel indoor positioning system. This works like GPS, which can’t locate you when inside a building.

The theatre is haunted by memories of performance & this app turns your smart phone into a device that allows you to tune into them. The Memory of Theatre will make present people and theatre events from the past, enabling encounters between past and present audiences, between the theatre now and then.

In terms of publicising we thought there were three key messages and that there were phases to the press we need for the project. Firstly we need to invite the public to gift their memories to the collection. For this we will use (predominantly) local media, press, radio, presentations at BOV events, mailouts/emails to audiences and specific potential contributors, website and word-of-mouth. The second invitation is to come and try our location-based experience in the Theatre Royal, to use the app on Open Doors Day when we launch the prototype, after BOV reopens. This invitation could include national theatre press and media in addition to audiences. Alongside this it is also key to publicise the novel use of technology; accessible, accurate indoor positioning that could be applied in other heritage contexts. At this stage it would be important to also contact specialist heritage and technology press.

I began working on the initial invitation, thinking about what we’re asking of people and offering in exchange:

Do you have a memory of seeing a show at Bristol Old Vic that has stayed with you?

Do you have a memory of performing on the Theatre Royal Stage?

Do you have a memory of working behind the scenes, on Box Office or front of house that you’d like to share?

Do you have a memory of something that happened to you or that you saw in the building but not on the stage, something personal that’s memorable, for instance a significant meeting, a conversation with friends, a moment when courting or an encounter with one of Bristol Old Vic’s ghosts.

We invite you to gift this memory to the collection.

First we would like to invite you to take us to the place where the event happened and to tell us about it, to tell us your story of Bristol Old Vic. In exchange for your memory we offer a cup of tea and conversation. We’ll record your recollections and promise to look after them for future audiences to hear.

We need to think about whether we want those who respond to tell us something about the memory and its location in advance or to simply recount from memory when we meet them.

So, the next stage is to circulate our invitation to the public and those who’ve performed, worked or visited the theatre over the years, to contact diverse groups and start to get the word out there that we’re collecting memories of the theatre’s past alongside its reopening.