Entertainment – 19th & 20th Century

During the 19th and 20th century, Shoreditch had become the centre of entertainment due to many theatres and music halls in the area. Shoreditch entertainment was considered to be a rival to the West End.

There was not a big variety of the types of entertainment available at the time, however, theatres and operas proved to be popular among the society, as there were always performances in at least one of the theatres or halls in Shoreditch.

Some of the main theatres and halls are as follows; The Royal Cambridge Music Hall (1864 – 1936), The National Standard Theatre, The Olympia Theatre, The Shoreditch Empire/ The London Music Hall (1856-1935), The Grecian Saloon – Grecian Theatre (1841-1882), The Town Hall, The Curtain Theatre. It is evident, just from listing all the venues that theatre was the main type of entertainment for people in the area or anyone interested in such events.

To get some idea as to the types of performances from the time, it was necessary to research into some posters produced at the time for advertisement and informative purpose.

One of the posters which was interesting was in fact produced in 1887, it was for a benefit for T.C. King – an actor and a theatre manager. Of course, there was not much advanced technology, so the poster is plain and simple. However, the titles of the plays is big and bold, but the most striking part was that the plays being put on were tragedies rather than something cheerful. The usual understanding of entertainment tends to be something happy rather than the complete opposite. Despite all that such poster is still interesting to see how much easier it was to sell people entertainment than it is now a days.

Interestingly enough, there is not much online in archives or just in general about the sort of entertainment that was available for people during the 19th and 20th century. It is extremely minimal, therefore making it difficult to understand the term ‘entertainment’ in that time period. The websites available were very vague and just listed very basic things, however, from all the different archives and websites, it is clear that the main type of entertainment for the society in Shoreditch, was attending theatres, which clearly was proved to be popular as there were many performances throughout the years.