‘Noel Coward: An Entertainer Abroad’ exhibition at Birmingham University 7 Oct – 8 Jan.
Birmingham University’s exhibition in the main foyer of the Muirhead Tower will be on display from 7 Oct 2015 to the 8 Jan 2016. Drawn from material held at the Cadbury Research Library, the exhibition celebrates Coward’s career on the international stage from the 1920s until shortly before his death.
‘Noel Coward: An Entertainer Abroad’ explores Coward’s involvement with American theatre and the absorption of Broadway’s smartness and pace into his own work during the 1920s; his involvement in the war effort during the 1940s, entertaining troops with music and cabaret whilst touring indefatigably across Europe, Africa, Asia and America; and we illustrate his twilight years film career, acting in The Italian Job (1969), shortly before his death.
Coward was very popular in many different countries and indeed, his plays and music were received completely differently in these countries to Britain. His war work was of official importance but many people in Britain at the start of the Second World War felt that he neglected his Home audience and concentrated his efforts on his fans abroad. His diaries, press-cuttings and speeches abroad elucidate how much he worked for the good of the War effort and using his skills, entertained the troops.
Coward has an enduring multiplicity of skills, each being received differently by different people. This exhibition charts his career through the lens of his travels abroad, and of his critics both home and away.
An extended version of this exhibition is also available on the Cadbury Research Library’s Flickr