NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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Old Tote Theatre Company archives

The Old Tote Theatre Company archives include company and production records, costumes, set designs, photographs and publications.

In addition to the Old Tote Theatre Company archives, we also have the administrative and production archives, personal archives and the Costume Research Collection.

What was Old Tote Theatre Company?

Old Tote Theatre Company operated as a professional theatre company between 1963 and 1978, first under the direction of NIDA and then, from 1969, as an independent organisation, registered as Old Tote Theatre Limited.

The theatre company played a pivotal role in the development of Sydney theatre tradition, showing innovative works and providing a much needed space for some of Australia’s most famous actors, directors and designers.

Accessing the archives

Access to the Old Tote Theatre Company archives is by appointment only. We reserve the right to close any records in our custody where information is sensitive or other restrictions apply. Photographs may be subject to copyright restrictions and charges.

For further information and to make an appointment to access the archives, please contact the Archives and Records Manager or call (02) 9697 7668 to discuss your needs.

Series and records available at the archives

The following records, listed by series number and title, are held at the NIDA archives.

  • 15 board minutes and agenda, 1969–78
  • 38 production programs, 1963–78
  • 41 posters (mounted and rolled), 1963–78
  • 42 publications, 1969–78
  • 57 correspondence file series, 1963–78
  • 62 production photographs, 1963–78
  • 68 set designs (plans and models), c1963–78
  • 113 costumes, 1970–76
  • 120 press releases and clipping books, 1964–78
  • 121 production prompt copies, 1963–78
  • 122 stage manager records, c1963–78
  • 123 photographs, 1963–78
  • 125 financial records, 1963–78

We hold company records, including meeting minutes, from 1969 to 1978. The minutes from 1963 to 1968 form part of the NIDA Board minutes. The minutes show the decisions of the board, as well as summaries of the designs and reviews of play seasons. Our holdings include financial records and box office takings for each show from 1963.

There is also a vast series of correspondence records documenting the many people, agencies and activities involved with the Old Tote Theatre Company from 1963 to 1978.

The production records include photographs, media collateral and staging notes.


We have an extensive photographic series of most Old Tote Theatre Company productions from 1963 to 1978 by photographers such as Robert Walker, Robert MacFarlane and Graham McCarter. The series also includes proof sheets, prints and negatives.

While the series is open to reference, you will need permission from the copyright holder to make duplicates of any images held.

Media collateral

We hold mounted and unmounted posters from most productions, as well as programs and press releases. We also have press clippings – both advertising and reviewing productions.

Staging notes

For many productions, the prompt copy and stage manager’s records are available, showing some of the specific decisions of the director and planning of the performances.

Holdings include:

  • set design plans and models
  • costumes designed by Anne Fraser, Yoshi Tosa and Hugh Coleman, and worn by Ron Haddrick, Robyn Nevin, Dinah Shearing, Betty Lucas, Jane Harders, John Gaden and Jennifer Hagan
  • Yoshi Tosa’s personal collection of costume and sets designs for Old Tote Theatre Company productions dating 1968 to 1975.

Holdings include:

  • mounted portrait shots of Old Tote actors and directors
  • casting agent submissions
  • general location shots taken at the University of New South Wales and NIDA Parade Theatres UNSW
  • publications and annual reports
  • Old Tote Theatre Company’s 10th anniversary book, Ten on the Tote.