From 1680 until 1791, only one theater troupe in Paris was allowed to perform the plays of Molière, Corneille, Racine, Voltaire, Beaumarchais, and every other French-language playwright. This troupe, the Comédie-Française, played the works of these authors over 34,000 times in this period. Remarkably, the troupe kept detailed records of their box office receipts for every single one of those performances. These daily receipt registers, still housed today in the troupe’s archives in the heart of Paris, are now available online via the Comédie-Française Registers Project.
Using this web site, you may browse virtual recreations of the troupe’s daily receipt registers and a selection of its other administrative records. You may also use a fully searchable database derived from these registers to study attendance patterns at the theater across more than a century. Which playwrights were most popular with sophisticated Parisian audiences in the Age of Enlightenment? Which genres proved most profitable for the troupe from the time of the Louis XIV (the “Sun King”) to the French Revolution? Is it possible to trace the radicalization of the king’s subjects over the course of the century by studying their theatrical tastes? Proceed directly to the database [link] to explore these questions, or read more about the project [link] and the Comédie-Française [link] first.