News Release - Issued by National Trust
Last chance to see Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives at Treasurer’s House, York.
Just two weeks remain of the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition on the private and public life of the iconic actress Vivien Leigh. Running until 20 December and open Thursday to Sunday, it’s the final chance to see the archive in Yorkshire.
Treasurer’s House is currently hosting the first major display of the Vivien Leigh collection from the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) with their exhibition Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives. The private archive was acquired by the V&A from Leigh’s family in 2013 and holds over 10,000 individual items. Highlights of this collection are on show in the National Trust historic house and range from Vivien’s life at home, and with husband Sir Laurence Olivier to her glamorous public image, necessary for her career. It includes annotated film scripts, costume, sketches and letters, including some from Sir Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and a young Judi Dench.
Treasurer’s House was the home of Edwardian business man Frank Green and it houses his remarkable collection of antiques, furniture, ceramics, textiles and paintings. It was the first house to be gifted to the National Trust complete with its collection and remains largely how he presented it. Frank loved to entertain and had royal visits and guests from the theatre elite. His parties were known to spill out into the garden to enjoy the borrowed view of York Minster. In his heyday Frank would have loved to have welcomed the Oliviers to his home at Treasurer’s House.
Clare Alton-Fletcher, exhibition manager at Treasurer’s House comments:
“We’re delighted that fans of Vivien Leigh, film and theatre have been able to see the exhibition in this unique historic house setting in York. Frank Green, the former owner, often hosted actors and actresses at his home. Although Vivien Leigh herself never visited the house, earlier stars who did included Lillie Langtry and Ellen Terry who were two of her inspirations to become an actress.
“The architecture of the house really adds to the theatricality and atmosphere. For example, the Blue Drawing Room is a luscious setting with its glittering gold mirrors for ‘Becoming Scarlett’ – the section of the exhibition which looks at Vivien Leigh’s most famous role in Gone with the Wind. The double-heighted Great Hall meanwhile will give a sense of grandeur to the costume she wore as Cleopatra, aptly set on a small stage where visiting actors and actresses would perform plays when they came to stay at the house.”
Keith Lodwick, V&A curator of the exhibition said: “Vivien Leigh has an enduring appeal and remains one of the great luminaries of stage and screen. The archive is a magnificent and intact record that provides a fascinating insight into her personal life and career. Although a small rotating selection of material has been on display at the V&A since we acquired the archive in 2013, we are delighted that so many of its highlights can now be seen.”
Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives is at Treasurer’s House in York, Thursday - Sunday until 20 December 2015. Normal admission fees apply or free entry to National Trust members. Visit the website to pre-book a ticket for fast track entrance. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/treasurershouse or telephone 01904 624247.
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About Treasurer’s House
Only a few metres from York Minster, this was the first house ever given to the National Trust complete with a collection - and it is not all that it first seems. It has a history spanning 2,000 years, from the Roman road in the cellar to the Edwardian servants' quarters in the attics, and thirteen period rooms in between. These house one man's remarkable collection of antique furniture, ceramics, textiles and paintings from a 300-year period. Infamous ghost stories are another of the many quirky attributes of this property.
About National Trust
The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
About Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh (1913-67) was an internationally recognised actress who won two Academy Awards for her roles in Gone with the Wind (1939) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and enjoyed a distinguished stage career spanning 30 years. Married to actor Laurence Olivier from 1940-1960, the celebrated couple co-starred in plays and films and were greeted on their various tours with the enthusiasm generally reserved for visiting royalty.
Although well known for her film roles, she actually starred in more theatre works. She liked to play as many different characters as possible in order to keep developing as an actress, and as such the exhibition holds a variety of memorabilia from productions of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra to Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) is widely regarded as her best stage performance, and her annotated notes about her approach to dealing with the play’s controversial themes of mental illness, homosexuality and rape will be on display. Other exclusive pieces include correspondence with director Elia Kazan, costume designer Lucinda Ballard, and playwright Tennessee Williams, who called her ‘the Blanche I had always dreamed of.’
About the V&A
The V&A is the world’s greatest museum of art and design with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It was established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, the V&A’s collections, which span over 5000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform. The V&A is home to the UK’s national collection of theatre and performing arts and recently began collecting costumes designed for film.
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