Polish Theatre Revisited explores nineteenth-century Polish theatre through the lens of theatre audiences. Agata Łuksza places special emphasis on the most engaged spectators, known as “theatremaniacs”—from what they wore, to what they bought, to what they ate. Her source material is elusive ephemera from fans’ lives, such as notes scribbled on a weekly list of shows in the Warsaw theatres, collections of theatre postcards, and recipes for sweets named after famous actors.
The fannish behavior of theatremaniacs was usually deemed excessive or in poor taste by people in positions of power, as it clashed with the ongoing embourgeoisement of the theatre and the disciplining of audiences. Nevertheless, the theatre was one of the key areas where early fan cultures emerged, and theatremaniacs indulged in diverse fan practices in opposition to the forces reforming the theatre and its spectatorship.
“A brilliant example of how theatre is not only a national history repository, but of how the conversations across the footlights between actors and audiences can be highly provocative, political, and empathetic concurrently. Łuksza’s vivid descriptions of nineteenth-century Polish theatremania celebrate and apotheosize fan and actor practices in this long overdue, illuminating book.”—Caroline Heim, author, Audience as Performer: The Changing Role of Theatre Audiences in the Twenty-first Century
“The future of fan studies lies in new historical and cross-cultural scholarship; and here, Łuksza boldly offers both. Through imaginative research, Łuksza excavates hidden elements of nineteenth-century Polish theatre life, shaped by charismatic stars, rival audiences, and resistance politics, establishing Warsaw’s ‘theatremaniacs’ as a definitive example of historical fandom.”—Daniel Cavicchi, author, Listening and Longing: Music Lovers in the Age of Barnum