The aim of this site is to document the experience of going to the theatre. It does this by gathering eyewitness testimony from diaries, letters, blogs, newspaper articles, memoirs, reports, travel books, pamphlets, histories, photographs and illustrations. By ‘theatre’ is meant all forms of live theatrical performance: stage plays, opera, musicals, concerts, dance, music hall, variety and more. The interest is not in formal reviews (though there are some of these) but rather in informal documents that document the audience’s particular engagement with theatregoing.

For each document the original source is given, the text is reproduced verbatim, and a comment provides contextualising information. A link is given if the text cited can be found online. The decade covered, the country and the form of performance are noted under categories; other subject terms are listed under tags: author (of the performed work), medium (of the text being cited), performer, place, subject, venue, witness and work performed (where relevant). As I have written elsewhere, no distinction or qualification is made about the form of the memory recorded. All written records, and all memories, are subjective. We must interpret them as we think best.

The documents are a combination of complete texts and extracts. The extracts focus on that part of the document that is most relevant to the subject of theatregoing. Extracts are also used for in-copyright works and are quoted proportionately in accordance with the fair dealing provisions in UK copyright law, or more substantially with the permission of the rights-owners. Many of the older texts have been taken from public domain sites, such as the Internet Archive, Hathi Trust and Project Gutenberg.

Theatregoing was launched in March 2017 and will be built up gradually. Although initial emphasis has been on the British experience to the end of the nineteenth century, the intention is to become worldwide in scope and to cover all periods. Suggestions for texts to be added are warmly welcomed, for which please use the Contact form. Theatregoing is a companion site to Picturegoing, established in 2013, which documents the experience of going to see pictures.

Theatregoing is produced by Luke McKernan.

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