RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 225
Datec 1900-1970s
Extent2 boxes
TitlePapers relating to English concert parties and pierrot shows
DescriptionThis small collection contains over 250 items relating to English concert parties and pier entertainments, including reviews, press cuttings, programmes, play bills, handouts, artists' cards, call sheets, costume design for Pelissier's Potted Pageant (not found), miscellaneous notes and photographs (many signed). Items relating to major touring companies are included (Catlin's Royal Pierrots, The Fol-de-Rols, Gaytime, Billie Manders' Quaintesques, Edgar Taylor's Lavender Follies, Clarkson Rose's Twinkle), as well as for other smaller companies. A thorough history of the genre is also contained: 'Pom-poms and Ruffles: the Story of Northern Seaside Entertainment', G J Mellor, 1966.
Admin HistoryConcert parties are an alternative name for what is more commonly known as pierrot shows. Originating in the Italian commedia dell'arte tradition, and later French developments, the character of Pierrot in the familiar white baggy costume was created by Giuseppe Giratoni c 1665. Pierrot arrived in England in 1891, with his popularity established by the French mime play L'Enfant Prodigue which ran at the Prince of Wales' Theatre. The first English Pierrot troupe began c 1895, making its debut at the Henley Regatta. Closely allied to Minstrel shows, the pierrot shows pioneered a new form of British popular theatre, and consisted of songs, dances, comic sketches and occasional monologues. The shows were performed in the open, giving them the name of alfresco concert parties. By 1910, troupes were taking the shows on tour rather than remaining in one resort for the summer season. Famous touring shows included 'The Fol-de-Rols', 'Twinkle', and 'The Co-Optimists'. By the end of the 1920s, permanent wooden stages were often used with proper seating for the audience, or pier pavilions and other permanent theatre buildings were used if available. The pierrot shows flourished in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, only waning in popularity with the arrival of the summer show, which featured television stars, dancers and big bands. Probably the only remnants of this particular form of variety performance surviving today are the Pierrotters, and the Redcoat entertainers at Butlin Holiday Camps.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialArchival materials relating to pierrot performers are held at the Greater Manchester County Record Office, University of Bristol (Theatre Collection), North Shields Local Studies Collection (Theatrical Archive), and the Angus Local Studies Collection (Angus Archives Theatrical Collection). A songbook relating to Andie Cain's Royal Filey pierrot entertainers is held at Crimlisk Fisher Archive, and the records of the Eastbourne Pier Co. Ltd. held at East Sussex Record Office include some mention of pierrot shows. Many programmes relating to pierrot shows are listed on the UK performing arts database 'Backstage':
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
ArrangementArranged as organised by the bookseller.
Finding_AidsCatalogued on CALM. Also sales catalogue giving an introduction and historical background to the collection and its research significance was included with the collection. This is available on request from the Archivist.
Mgt_GroupPerforming arts papers
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