The writer-director Stephen Poliakoff's thematic concerns with history and memory have repeatedly returned to the archive as a site of discovery. Poliakoff's use, and exploration, of archives in his work has coincided with a marked rise in mainstream cultural engagement with archives for personal use, as well as an archival turn in literary scholarship. This article explores the different types of archive and archival material found in Poliakoff's dramas for stage and screen, mapping the topography of public and private archives in his work, in turn revealing the commentaries these dramas are making about how we create and use archives, and who and what they are for.
Elizabeth Robertson is a Teaching Fellow in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London, where she completed her PhD entitled ‘Remember This? Family, History and the Nature of Historical Consciousness in Stephen Poliakoff's Dramas, 1974–2011’, in 2013.