If you are interested in the history of theatre, music, dance, circuses, travelling troupes, opera or any of the performance arts then The British Newspaper Archive is an invaluable source. Reports of recitals, reviews of plays, and critiques of musical performances can be found in all of our newspapers. We also hold a selection of specialised titles related to the performing arts.
Our newspapers date from the 1700s to the 2000s and within their pages you can trace the history of the performing arts over four centuries.
With newspapers you can discover the early history of Music Halls and Variety Theatre and the myriad of acts that travelled the country. Performers advertised their appearances and their availability in local and national newspapers. Whole pages could be devoted to these advertisments offering a window into the popular entertainments of the day.
THE CURIOUS COMBINATION
TWO-HEADED SKYLARK, ELIZA-ANNIE
The Greatest Novelty ever seen on stage. Her singing and dancing are wonderful, and create a great sensation.
For extensive coverage of the history of the theatre, and for discovering the history of plays, playwrights and players, we have The Era. This title is the single best source for the history of theatre in the UK. We hold editions from the 1st edition in September 1838 to the last edition in 1939. Space was given to both amateur and professional productions. By the end of its run The Era was reporting on cinema as well as live theatre.
As part of our partnership with The Stage we are also very pleased to hold The Stage for 1880-2007. The Stage began publication in London in 1880 as The Stage Directory A London and Provincial Theatrical Advertiser. It was in direct competition with The Era, and eventually became the most popular theatrical newspaper. The paper also reported on television and cinema, and is an invaluable source for tracing the careers of modern actors, playwrights and screenwriters.
The London and Provincial Entr’acte (which means ‘between the acts’) described itself as a ‘Theatrical and Musical Critic and Advdertiser’. The paper went through several name changes between 1870 and 1907. Its reviews of theatrical and other performances were light hearted and lightly satirical in tone. The paper also published cartoon caricatures of actors and patrons of the arts.
Part of the Illustrated London News stable of titles which have been added to The Archive through our partnership with the Illustrated London News Group, The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News combined reports of sport, particularly horse-racing, and news of the theatrical scene. The paper was published between 1874 and 1970. The early editions of the paper are particularly strong on theatre and opera reportage, and the front covers often featured actors and singers.
Perhaps our most unsual title in the collection is the single sheet The Showman. This title ran as an independent publication in the early 1900s before being incorporated into The Music Hall and Theatre Review. The Showman carried news of circuses, fairs, menageries, contortionists and chair jumpers!
Performing Arts Titles
|The Era||1838-1910, 1913-1939|
|The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News||1874-1970|
|London and Provincial Entr’acte||1870-1907|
|Music Hall and Theatre Review/The Showman||1889, 1891, 1902-1903|