Volunteers needed for Sussex-based archive project with Total Theatre Magazine

Total Theatre Archive: preserving 30 years of UK performance history and creating an interactive archive

Total Theatre Magazine is putting together a small team of volunteers to work on the second phase of the creation of the Total Theatre Archive, a major project on which they are working with Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of Sussex; The Keep National Archive Centre; and Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance (London).

They have completed phase 1, and the full collection of 25 years of print magazines have been scanned and converted to PDF.

In the next phase of the process there are two main tasks:

  • Extracting text from the PDFs using OCR (optical character recognition) programmes.
  • Data entry of the text onto the new Total Theatre Magazine archive website, which is being created and managed by MES. This involves using a Content Management System that is easy to master.    

Volunteers can work on one or other or both of these tasks, depending on their skills. Volunteers will need access to a computer that they can use for the project. No specialist software is needed.

There are also opportunities to develop arts journalism / media and communications skills in tandem with this work, and to learn more about archiving processes – although Total Theatre Magazine stress that they do need IT-savvy people, happy to do the bulk of the work on their own computer, for this stage of the process.  

They are now recruiting volunteers and student placements to work from September 2018 onwards, with the start dates and number of days of volunteer work to be agreed between Total Theatre Magazine and the volunteer. They are proposing volunteers will work one day a week for a 5-6 week period between September and December. 

Contact editor Dorothy Max Prior by email to

Please send a brief CV and a short covering letter, in which you tell Total Theatre Magazine about:

  • Skills and experiences you can offer the project
  • Skills and experiences you’d like to learn or develop volunteering on this project
  • How you feel this volunteer placement would help you in your personal development, studies or career

More about the Total Theatre Archive project

Total Theatre Magazine has, for over 30 years, celebrated and supported theatre and performance in the UK – in particular, forms given little attention by mainstream media, libraries, or archives, such as: experimental theatre, physical and visual theatre, street theatre and outdoor arts, contemporary circus, puppetry and animation, performance art, hybrid performance, feminist and queer/LGBT theatre.

The print magazine encompassed 100 issues over 25 years. Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Our Heritage fund this archive will be preserved for everyone to engage with, all content provided free to view.

The new Total Theatre Archive website will be launched in 2019. The current site can be viewed at 

Editor Dorothy Max Prior and Web Editor John Ellingsworth will be working with members of the magazine’s editorial team and volunteers to scan, upload and tag content, creating a fully searchable website that will be a valuable resource for scholars, journalists, artists, students, and anybody interested in Britain’s alternative theatre and performance history. Once the website is built, Total Theatre Magazine will be working with writers, editors and leading arts professionals to create new content that will reflect upon and interact with the archive.

Supporters of this project include Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance, Royal Conservatoire Scotland, and Attenborough Centre of Creative Arts at University of Sussex. 


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By: Nicola Jeffs
Last updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2018