• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

Spearheaded by Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, the Living Archive contains information on every Royal Court production.

Four Royal Court production images showing August for the People, Seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner, Look back in anger and Blest be the tie
Clockwise from top left: August for the People (1961), Seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner (2019), Look back in anger (1956), Blest be the tie (2004)

Photo credit: (clockwise from top left) Sandra Lousada, Helen Murray, Zoe Domin, Alistair Muir.

The Royal Court Theatre has launched an online archive containing information on every play presented at the London venue in its 67-year history, totalling almost 2,000 works.

The project has been developed to offer "democratisation" of access and will continue to be updated by its users.

Living Archive is an independent web-based resource that supplements the Royal Court’s physical archive held at the V&A . Users can navigate the website through pathways created by guest curators and are encouraged to make their own contributions through an interactive portal.


Originating from a project the Royal Court undertook in 2020 that examined the politics of archiving, outgoing Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, said Living Archive “grew from several questions: Who tells our history? Who controls what is remembered? What do we gain from obsessing over legacy, and how can we create something which provides more insight into possible futures?”

Plays on the digital archive are categorised into three levels: ‘deep dives’, ‘enhanced’, and ‘starting point’, with the former containing the most detailed information. The Royal Court says that Living Archive will be “a permanent work in progress” with the goal for every production to have the same level of curation and detail as the ‘deep dives’. 

“This is only the beginning of what Living Archive can be,” said Featherstone, who commissioned the project. “Living Archive is not merely a celebration of the Royal Court’s extraordinary past but a much-needed tool to fire us into new and as yet unimagined futures, standing on the shoulders of everyone who has toiled before us, each showing us worlds in new ways.”

She added that the project would have not been possible without the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies which has supported the Royal Court for more than 20 years.

Sula Douglas-Folkes, Lead Researcher and Project Coordinator said, "Our aim has been not just to bring to light unserved and underseen voices but to create a platform where these voices lead the narrative.

"The Living Archive stands as an educational resource - it's designed to inspire writers, theatre enthusiasts, and creatives to engage with our past, and in doing so, to ignite the creation of new and meaningful work.”

A headshot of Mary Stone
Arts Professional welcomes readers' opinions. Please ensure your comments observe our policy.