Playbills in the Spotlight workshop

Special Collections & Archives have paired up with the British Library to help launch an exciting new project and we need your help!

In The Spotlight explores the world of historical theatre and entertainment through one of the earliest forms of advertising – the playbill. Playbills described the shows hosted by kinds of venues, including theatres and fairs, in great detail. You can find out who acted in shows, what the plot was, any special effects and, of course, how long plays ran for and much more.

The British Library are developing a crowdsourcing website for everyone to get involved in helping make their playbill collection more accessible. You’ll help the British Library by inputting names, titles and locations of plays to help future researchers discover this history with greater ease. Here at Kent, we’re very lucky to be some of the first people to try out this new project and we want your feedback on the resource.

If you’re free any time after 14:00 on Thursday 28 September, please come along to a workshop to learn more about the project and how crowdsourcing is helping to make more historical documents available to the world. You’ll be able to try out the In The Spotlight website, give feedback on how it works and explore Kent’s very own theatre collections from the 19th century!

To find out more and to book a space, please email

We look forward to seeing you!