East London Theatre Archive

If you’re interested in theatre history, there’s a promising new website showing some of the holdings of the East London Theatre Archive.
It aims to give a picture of the flourishing theatrical culture of the East End, from 1820 to the present day, though it seems a bit patchy at the moment – I couldn’t find any material relating to Joan Littlewood, for example. In addition, the web coding keeps throwing up error messages. But there are already treasures online.
I was especially pleased to find a 1928 programme for Khaki at the Stratford Empire. This was the play that got its star, Ernie Lotinga, into such trouble with the censor in 1924. Lotinga’s policy was usually to produce a new play each year, tour it round the Moss circuit and then do a different one. I read an article in the show business magazine, The Era, in which he (half seriously, half boastfully) bemoans the fact that unlike the usual variety comic who can keep on relying on the same material, he, because he presents farces, has to constantly come up with complete new shows. The fact that Khaki was revived must be a sign of its popularity.
Here’s the 1928 programme:

Click on the image for a full-size version.


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