Royal Court Theatre launches online Living Archive of all its plays

The Royal Court Theatre has made a significant leap in digital archiving with the launch of the Living Archive.

This groundbreaking digital platform documents every play presented at the Royal Court since its opening in 1956, encompassing nearly 2,000 works by over 1,000 writers.

The independent website, open to all, offers a novel way to navigate theatre history through pathways curated by guest writers. It challenges conventional archiving norms about what is preserved, who decides on its preservation, and the recognition of historic projects. Additionally, the site features an interactive portal inviting visitors to contribute, enhancing its dynamic nature. While the Royal Court’s physical archive continues to be maintained by the V&A, Living Archive represents a new direction in archiving practices.

Originating from the Living Newspaper project in 2020, which questioned archiving politics, Living Archive is the culmination of research and development performances held in June 2022. The project focuses on providing resources for emerging writers, reflecting the Royal Court’s commitment to nurturing new talent.

Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court, said: “Living Archive was born out of the long summer of 2020 which felt like it was changing the world forever. It 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?

“Living Archive is a portal into the words, passions, beliefs and craft of the writers and theatre-makers who have brought their skill, care and curiosity to the Royal Court.

“This is only the beginning of what Living Archive can be. Arriving at this stage is the result of hours of interrogation, argument, research, reading, and I am deeply grateful to everyone who has poured so much into this vital 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. It would have not been possible without the significant support and vision of Bloomberg Philanthropies and it is a privilege, as I leave the beloved Royal Court, to be part of the team who was able to make this happen.”

The Living Archive website is available online at

About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.


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