Visualising Lost Theatres

Joanne Tompkins, Julie Holledge, Jonathan Bollen and Liyang Xia, Visualising Lost Theatres, Cambridge University Press, 2022.

Project website at

Visualising Lost Theatres harnesses virtual reality to uncover the history of five venues that have been ‘lost’ to us: London’s 1590s Rose Theatre; Bergen’s mid-nineteenth-century Komediehuset; Adelaide’s Queen’s Theatre of 1841; circus tents hosting Cantonese opera performances in Australia’s goldfields in the 1850s; and the Stardust showroom in 1950s Las Vegas. Shaping some of the most enduring genres of world theatre and cultural production, each venue marks a significant cultural transformation, charted here through detailed discussion of theatrical praxis and socio-political history.

Using virtual models as performance laboratories for research, Visualising Lost Theatres recreates the immersive feel of venues and reveals performance logistics for actors and audiences. Proposing a new methodology for using visualisations as a tool in theatre history, and providing 3D visualisations for the reader to consult alongside the text, this is a landmark contribution to the digital humanities.

  • The book provides new knowledge on each venue’s socio-political histories and theatrical praxis.
  • The project website provides the 3D venue models and fly-throughs to explore and download.