We are pleased to announce the official launch of https://www.theatreinsaintdomingue.org,
a website devoted to the vibrant theatrical tradition in the former French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), featuring a bilingual (French-English) database of public performances of plays, ballets and operas as documented in the local newspapers between 1764 and 1791.
The project was initiated and led by Dr. Julia Prest, University of St Andrews, and made possible thanks to the support of The British Academy, the LeverhulmeTrust and the University of St Andrews.
Extract from the website:
Most of our information comes from the Saint-Dominguan newspaper known as the Affiches américaines (and its variants), which is available for consultation online at the Digital Library of the Caribbean: http://www.dloc.com. Additional newspapers are drawn on in relation to the beginning and end of the period under consideration, and these were consulted at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. Our sources feature regular announcements detailing upcoming theatrical performances in local venues, usually the local playhouse, of a host of plays, ballets and operas, the majority of them brought over from France, often only a few months after their première in Paris or elsewhere. A small but significant number of works listed are by local authors. A typical theatrical event in Saint-Domingue featured two named works and often some additional dance or music, sometimes followed by fireworks and/or a ball. We document all known performances involving named dramatic works and note the inclusion of additional music and dance, fireworks and balls on the record cards for that day. Entertainments, such as standalone firework displays or concerts, that do not include any named dramatic works are excluded. It is possible that what is documented represents only a small percentage of what was actually performed in Saint-Domingue since it would appear that many regular subscription performances were not advertised individually in the newspapers. Nonetheless, what we have gives a strong sense of the richness and variety of theatre production in colonial Saint-Domingue. It opens up the history of colonial theatre and also that of a burgeoning créole theatre tradition.