Immersive entertainment started when? 2010? 1990?Try 1793……

What was Panoramania? Find out how London pioneered immersive entertainment, and how it became the world panorama capital in an online talk given via the City of Westminster Libraries & Archives on Friday 17 September at 6.30pm BST.

Join Professor Ian Christie, an excellent and well-read speaker, to explore Panoramania!

When Robert Barker’s Panorama opened on the corner of Leicester Square in 1793, it launched a vogue for immersive spectacle that would spread around the world, boosted by Louis Daguerre’s Diorama, which arrived in London from Paris in 1823.

But despite having boasted more ‘new media’ displays than any other city throughout the 19th century, the history of London’s love affair with visual novelty remained little known before Ralph Hyde’s landmark Barbican exhibition Panoramania! in 1988.

The only surviving records are playbills and prints, such as those held by Westminster Archives Centre and the British Library. And now, thanks to digitization and online access, it’s increasingly possible to reimagine the immersive splendours that entranced fashionable London and its international visitors.

Professor Ian Christie

Ian Christie is Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College, and has long been fascinated by these anticipations of cinematic spectacle. He is also an excellent, authoritative and engaging speaker. (For those interested, he has also recently published an excellent and highly-detailed appreciation of film pioneer Robert W Paul which reasserts his major place in film history)

And if this illustrated talk whets your appetite, you can view Professor Christie’s Gresham College lecture further exploring some of these media here and find out more about him you can visit www.ianchristie.org and https://paulsanimatographworks.wordpress.com

How to join the event

All those who book will receive the link to join via email 48hrs before the event, and on the day of the event.

The talk will be 40 – 50 minutes long, followed by a Q & A. You will have the opportunity to submit questions in writing via the Q & A live chat. You won’t need a camera or microphone for this talk, as audience members won’t be seen or heard.

For a taste of a moving panorama, watch this video – the Grand Panorama of London – for an historic trip down the river Thames circa 1844 -1850.

This colossal 18 foot concertina-folded panorama in the Westminster archives collection covers a stretch running from Western Stone Wharf to Deptford Dockyard.

Book tickets for the talk here


Music Hall and Variety Day 2021 – explore the history of the Legendary London Palladium in an online talk

Anyone fascinated by the rich entertainment history of our oldest and most venerable theatres will be intrigued by this talk presented by Mark Fox to celebrate Music Hall & Variety Day 2021 covering the history of The London Palladium – take a virtual tour of The London Palladium and walk in the steps of the many great entertainers that have performed at this legendary theatre.

The talk will be presented online via Zoom on 3.00pm on Sunday 16th May 2021. Tickets are £3 for BMHS members and £5 for non-members. A joining link will be sent the day before the talk for all ticket purchasers. You can buy tickets here


Dr Kirsty Sedgman’s free talk on Fandom

Dr Kirsty Sedgman

How Do you Solve a Problem Like Fandom? is the title of an online talk given by Dr Kirsty Sedgman at the Wolverhampton School for Performing Arts today (Wednesday, 28th April at 3.00pm).

In order to survive in the post-COVID world, the arts will need to reverse the trend that has seen audiences diminishing, ageing, and relatively homogenous. In order to thrive, we will need to turn casual spectators into fans.

In this talk, Dr Kirsty Sedgman asks why fandom in the arts has often been ignored or dismissed over history by the very people who should welcome it – with everyone from the 19th century Matinee Girls to today’s Phans sneered at for liking the wrong kind of theatre, or for enjoying things in the wrong way, or even for damaging the experience itself. This lecture is a call to arms to take fans seriously by:

1) dismantling the ableist, classist, racist structures that exclude marginalised audiences

2) capitalising on new digital performance forms that are breaking down barriers to access

3) welcoming genuine demonstrations of enjoyment, pleasure, and joy

The talk is scheduled to last one hour.

An award-winning expert in audiences, Dr Kirsty Sedgman is Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Bristol (UK). She is Editor of the Routledge Theatre & Performance Series in Audience Research as well as author of two monographs – Locating the Audience (Intellect 2016) and The Reasonable Audience (Palgrave 2018) – and has appeared on numerous radio and TV programmes, from BBC2’s Inside Culture with Mary Beard to BBC R4 Front Row. Kirsty has recently signed a contract with a leading trade publisher for a book bringing audience studies to a global mass-market readership.

To book your free tickets, click here


Enjoy a free online talk about Shakespeare and the world of theatre – on his birthday!

To celebrate the birthday of William Shakespeare, City and Westminster Archives and Libraries invites you to join Pimlico Library’s top Shakespeare enthusiast, Steven, who presents an online talk about Shakespeare and his theatre world.

Steven will be virtually discussing why Shakespeare was so pivotal to the world of playwrighting and theatre. Spanning a wild history from Ancient Greece to the 1700s, we will look at the lesser known period of plays that preceded Elizabethan theatre and how they evolved and grew to create the environment that Shakespeare thrived in.

Covering what is considered one Shakespeare’s greatest plays, HAMLET, we will paint Shakespeare in the context of the intriguing world he wrote in.

The online talk is presented on Saturday, 24 April 2021 at 7:00pm and lasts one hour. A 20 minute Q&A session will take place shortly after Steven’s talk. The talk is free but you must register, which you can do below.

Book your place here


Enjoy a free online talk about Kenneth Williams

If you enjoy learning about the lives of celebrated performers, then this is for you. Stop Messin’ About! Kenneth Williams: a comic and his roots is presented by cultural historian, Adam Endacott who will take us through the career of one of Britain’s most beloved comics, Kenneth Williams, who died 33 years ago this month.

The online talk is presented on Tuesday, 20 April at 6:30pm, and is free, but you do need to register.

There were many sides to the genius of Kenneth Williams. He was a comedic and dramatic actor, a film star, a broadcaster, a director, an author, a writer and diarist, a raconteur, as well as being an instantly recognisable personality in his own right.

His unique and unforgettable individuality has instilled him in the memory of so many; labelled as a national treasure, a legend and, in his own words, “a cult”. He remains a well-known and much loved name over thirty years after his death, with his talents continually being discovered and enjoyed by successive generations who admire his education, wit and prodigious talents as a raconteur, as well as his priceless gift to make us laugh.

This one-hour online presentation will be a celebration of his career delving into a “gander bag” of curiosities across his 40 year career with audio and visual clips, fascinating facts and anecdotes

Book your place on Eventbrite here