Scope and arrangement
The collection is almost entirely bound promptbooks annotated with notes and cues by Prentice for the plays he produced. The extensive handwritten staging directions on the scripts as well as the many loose lighting and property plots, cast lists, and set design diagrams provide substantial documentation of these productions of the regional British theater in this period (1920s-1950s). There are also some autobiographical writings, notes and drafts for speeches he gave, a small amount of correspondence mostly with the playwrights, photographs from unidentified productions and some photographs of Prentice with colleagues.
The Herbert M. Prentice papers are arranged in three series:
- 1935-19605 folders
This series contains autobiographical material, mostly handwritten manuscripts and notes by Prentice on his career in the theater. His writings are on loose pages and in two notebooks, one dated 1960. Includes notes and drafts for speeches, notes taken during a rehearsal and correspondence with the playwright Ralph de Pomerai discussing his plays.
- 1922-195475 boxes
This series makes up the bulk of the collection because related papers such as correspondence, set designs, lighting and property plots and cast lists, have been kept with the play to which they pertain. It is arranged alphabetically by playwright. Most of the promptbooks are bound volumes consisting of the typed, usually published, pages of the scripts unbound and then pasted into larger, blank volumes, allowing ample room for Prentice's extensive notations. Some contain photographs and cast lists from original (pre-Prentice) productions. A few of these bound volumes contain two different plays. These are necessarily arranged under only one playwright with the other given an added entry for retrieval. Many of the volumes have a number pasted on the front which undoubtedly was relevant to Prentice. However, since not all volumes were numbered, this was not the system chosen for arrangement.
- 9 folders
This small series consists of informal photographs of Prentice with colleagues including Cyril Phillips and George Bernard Shaw, at rehearsals for Saint Joan at the Malvern Festival and with star Wendy Hiller after the show, and unidentified production photographs.