Theatrescapes – GTH Centre Launches the first Podcast on the Histories of Global Theatre


The audio podcast Theatrescapes focuses on the Global Histories of Theatre and the Histories of Global Theatre. It is produced by the Centre for Global Theatre History at LMU Munich.

The Centre for Global Theatre comes up with a new format: in June, we launch our audio podcast: Theatrescapes !  

Theatrescapes takes up those topics that have engaged the Centre’s researchers and its international network since its beginning: Stories and case studies about theatre in a global context, mainly from a historical perspective, but also reaching into the present. The podcast is dedicated to conversations and book reviews about the global or transnational histories of the performing arts, of drama, dance, opera, circus, etc., from the early modern period to the 21stcentury. Guests and interview partners include scholars and artists, theatre and cultural practitioners from around the world. At Theatrescapes, the world is at the microphones for the world.

The variety of topics at Theatrescapes is unique and requires curation. The podcast is therefore structured in series of 3-5 episodes each, dedicated to areas of focus.

A short intro episode in early June will be followed by the first series, Theatre (Research) in Times of Covid, that explores how the global pandemic situation has impacted theatre practice and research. In conversation with theatre scholar Nic Leonhardt, host of the Theatrescapes podcast, theatre practitioners and arts supporters, researchers and faculty members from South America, Asia and Europe describe challenges and opportunities of that special time period that is making history.

We welcome listeners from around the world! 

If you have suggestions for topics and conversation partners, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Special thanks go to our colleague Aydin Alinejadsomeh who conjures everything around the technology.

We would also like to thank the Legon Palwine Band from Accra, Ghana, for letting us use their great music for the podcast!

Theatrescapes is available here, on iTunes, Google Podcast and Spotify

Please follow our updates here on this blog, on Facebook and Twitter.


New article out: C. Balme & N. Leonhardt on „The Rockefeller Connection“

„The Rockefeller Connection: Visualizing theatrical networks in the Cultural Cold War“, in Comparatio, Vol. 12, 2, 2020, p. 127-144.

In this co-authored article, Christopher Balme and Nic Leonhardt (both ERC project Developing Theatre at LMU Munich) examine how the Rockefeller Foundation funded theatrical initiatives in developing countries: the Philippines and Nigeria. Using visualization software, in this case the open source application Gephi, the authors demonstrate how personal and institutional networks underpinned the cultural, specifically, theatrical development strategy of the foundation. The paper discusses the principles underpinning historical network analysis and analyzes two case studies, Severino Montano’s Arena Theatre in Manila, and the establishment of a School of Drama at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

  • This article has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 694559 – DevelopingTheatre) 
and is available in the open access format.


„Research interest must be both a professional and a personal choice“ – An Interview with Romanian Theatre Scholar Viviana Iacob

Viviana Iacob (PhD) is currently a Fellow of the ERC Project Developing Theatre and the Centre for Global Theatre History at LMU Munich with a PostDoc Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Her research explores the exchanges, practices and networks that allowed Eastern European cultures to overcome peripheralization in relation with the international community after 1945. She is currently working on a monograph that places Romanian theatre within global circulations among the East, the West, and the South. 

In my functions as Co-Director of the Centre for Global Theatre History and senior researcher of the ERC project Developing Theatre, I interviewed Viviana about her work and her experiences of doing research away from home in times of Covid. The interview is also the first of a series of conversations of the GTH Centre that will be the core of a Global Theatre History Podcast we are currently working on and which will be launched soon.

Theatre Scholar Viviana Iacob. (photo: private)

Nic Leonhardt (NL): Viviana, you came to LMU on a fellowship by the Humboldt Foundation and are currently a fellow of the ERC project Developing Theatre and the Centre for Global Theatre History. What exactly are you working on? And to what extent can our projects here be good biotopes for your work?

Viviana Iacob (VI): I am currently working on the history of international organizations such as the International Theatre Institute (ITI) and their impact on Eastern European theatre practice during the Cold War. My research expands on previous contributions I made to several projects that dealt with East-West cultural and expertise entanglements prior to my Humboldt fellowship. However, the ERC initiative that you and Christopher Balme are developing at LMU inspired me to broaden my focus to theatre connections between Eastern Europe and the Global South. I believe that this topic is still in its infancy in the contemporary scholarship, which, unfortunately, deprives us as historians of a fascinating set of trans-regional experiences central to socialist states’ cultural diplomacy during the Cold War. The ERC project also influenced my theoretical and methodological approach, especially in terms of emphasising the role of international organizations as central actors that structure theatre exchanges and debates.

NL: Your epistemological ‚hobbyhorses‘ seem to be the Cold War and internationalisation. Do you (still) know how and when your interest in these topics developed?

VI: Interest in the Cold War started with my PhD research. I analyzed Shakespeare stage adaptations during the first two decades of the communist regime in Romania. I discovered that Shakespeare’s theatre functioned not only as a conduit for showcasing the Soviet experience on the local stage but also as a door to East-West conversations and circulations. This work along with the discovery of a plethora of primary sources (such as those left behind by friendship societies with either socialist or Western countries) made me realize that past narratives about Romanian (or Eastern European) theatre communities as isolated or Sovietized obstructed my and other theatre historians’ understanding of the Cold War period. As I progressed with my dissertation I uncovered more avenues or corridors for international circulations pursued at the time by Romanian (and Eastern European) theatre practitioners. This was a turning point: it led me to understand the pivotal role played by international organizations in the cultural diplomacy of socialist state regimes.

NL: What I like so much and admire about your publications is that they are incredibly well-informed and detailed, and that they contain a wealth of archival sources. How is your archival work structured? Are there differences between the work in archives in Romania and those in German-speaking countries? Which ones do you consult the most?

VI: I start from the premise that archival work on Eastern European theatre history requires the ability to change gears. I seek to alternate between different scales so that I can identify the overlapping layers of theatre circulations and productions in international context. Simply put, I search for sources that reflect both the local and the global. I’d argue that there are three intersecting sets of material that constitute the foundation for such an approach. First, there are archival collections amassed by both party and state institutions or local private collections. They usually provide unilateral perceptions: of officials, of practitioners ‘talking socialist’, or personal experiences. Second, at a regional level, I place this information in comparative contexts, as I seek information about interactions between Eastern European states. Third, these two levels are counterbalanced with archival collections of international organizations. In my experience, the latter are by far the most arduous to work with since more often than not they have yet to be catalogued.

Files, files, files. Historical theatre research requires the detailed study of paperwork at the archives. Digitalized material is rare. (photo: VI)

To answer your second query, I would say that the difference between German and Romanian archives is first and foremost one of access. In Eastern Europe one must first discover where one might find a particular document or collection. After 1989, a restructuring of collections pertaining to the communist period took place and archives were destroyed, moved, merged or transferred from institution to institution. Finding them is an adventure in itself. One must also add that, in Romania, even if you find a useful file, let’s say in the historical archive of the Ministry of Culture, it might still be classified, which makes it impossible for you to see it. For several archival holdings, the process of access is at snail pace, if at all. In contrast, I find that German or French institutions that hold similar archives (I have worked with the latter extensively in the past few years) are sometimes just an email away.

NL: In the ERC project, „development“, cultural policy and expert networks after 1945 are important keywords and research fields. Can you give examples from your research in which they play a role? How do you approach them?

VI: I see my contribution to the ERC project as bringing a third dimension, an Eastern European focus to its North-South alignment. I look at socialist theatre experts and their participation in the Cold War epistemic community. The Eastern European input to building global theatre networks stands on a par with that of the West. The West and the East were equally invested in the decolonized Global South during the Cold War. For example, Eastern Europeans built expert exchanges or full-fledged training programs designed for students from the Global South via bilateral relations or progressive networks.

Although there is an increasing volume of literature on the issue of cultural exchanges between the Global East and the Global South, the scholarship on the role played by theatre and the performing arts in these dynamics is yet to fully take off. The scholarship that has been produced in this direction mostly comes from your department: publications such as Theatre, Globalization and the Cold War and the ERC project you mentioned earlier.

NL: What are the biggest challenges you face in your research?

VI: As I pointed out earlier, access to certain archival collections but also the fact that all the archival material that I research is yet to be digitised. Of course such a process entails first cataloguing the material and as I mentioned, this is still an issue with some collections I have been looking at. I am very grateful to the archivists and custodians that helped me navigate this material or allowed me to study it even though it was not catalogued or was in the process of being archived. This is the case of the ITI archives in Paris, Budapest and Berlin. I do have to say that there is some exhilaration in discovering that very few people, if any before you, have worked on such archives.

NL: A major challenge, I suppose, is the Covid19 situation and its tangible impact on our everyday lives, cultural life and scholarly work. You were in Munich before the Corona crisis became acute. How did it affect your fellowship? Is there a before and an after?

VI: Since my research is premised on “going there” the pandemic has of course affected the way I currently work. The fact that I established a connection with some collection holders prior to the pandemic has helped immensely. The bright side to these difficulties, if any, is that the present situation has drawn my attention to an area of my research that has taken second place until now: the editorial projects of the international organisations that I am studying. The German library system is extremely rich in this respect. The consolidation of library holdings from East and West after the Cold War means that today in Germany one can find Eastern European publications that can seldom be found elsewhere.

NL: From your point of view: How “global” is Romanian theatre?

VI: Romanian theatre is not exceptional but rather typical for the period. I do not think that Romanian theatre or Romanian theatre practitioners were more visible than other Eastern Europeans during the Cold War. On the contrary, Romanian theatre was as global as Bulgarian theatre was. Romanian puppeteers helped set up the Puppet Theatre in Cairo while Bulgarian architects built the National Theatre in Lagos. The visibility of personalities such as Jerzy Grotowski, Radu Beligan or Friz Benewitz during the Cold War was very much the outcome of successful cultural diplomacies of individual socialist states and of the growing role of Eastern Europe in international organisations such as ITI. This movement towards globalization was of course about exporting a socialist civilizational blueprint, but one must not forget that each Eastern European country had its own characteristics and international trajectories informed by domestic specificities and traditions.

NL: Is theatre / theatre history global at all?

VI: I think it can be and recently published work suggests that it should be. As historians we must take on the challenge in order to circumvent methodological nationalism and Eurocentrism. Connecting performativity to trans-regional circulations is, as you and Christopher Balme have argued, bound to bring invigorating richness to theatre studies. Such an approach simultaneously extends and deepens our understanding of local theatre contexts. 

Pavel Ilie, Object, wicker, 1971. (Credit photo: Eugeniu Lupu)

  NL: What is theatre research/ theatre studies like in Romania?

VI: Romanian theatre studies have been slow in embracing archival sources and international perspectives. In part this has much to do with the difficulties of access to archival resources pertaining to the performing arts. In order to be studied, relevant material must first be discovered. Until very recently, the exploration of cultural policies during the Cold War, performing arts included, had remained the purview of historians of the communist period, who made most progress in accessing the various archival holdings from the state socialist period. Histories of theatre after 1945 have seldom engaged with comparative work. Almost no attention has been granted to trajectories of internationalization. However, considering the global turn in Cold War studies and the growing research on the role of Eastern Europe in international organisations, I believe that this state of things will soon change.  One recent initiative that has done much in this respect is the Institute of the Present. This is a research and artist resource platform that tackles the recent history of the visual and performing arts from a transnational perspective, while also encouraging its contributors to explore available public or private archives.

NL: When you talk about your work, your eyes sparkle; your enthusiasm is contagious. Is there anything that fascinates you outside the desk?

I think travelling and exposure to foreign cultures would constitute my “other” interest. There is a level of performativity entailed by that experience that is addictive. This fascination has been of course curtailed by the pandemic. However, I have always brought back tastes, smells and experiences from my travels. During lockdowns I have been going back to them to cope with Covid-driven relative confinement.

NL: What do you recommend to junior researchers and your students?

VI: My advice would be to find an area of study that is relevant for you both on a professional and personal level. I do not think passion for knowledge or opportunity suffices for a career in the academia. Research interest must be both a professional and a personal choice. Of course that entails adaptability and resourcefulness since one must find and fund one’s research.  

NL: Where will you go after your time in Munich?

VI:  My answer is premised on the impact of the pandemic on future research and job opportunities. The academic market was competitive before, but the pandemic has exacerbated that situation. That being said, at this point it is rather difficult to say what my future will look like after my Humboldt fellowship ends in 2022.

NL: Thank you very much for the interview! And good luck for your future research. We are glad to have you here.


A Tale of Two Maurices: Family history and theatrical micro-history

Balme Globalization of Theatre, 1870-1930

Christopher Balme with David Taylor (

The publication of my recent book, The Globalization of Theatre 1870-1930: The Theatrical Networks of Maurice E. Bandmann (2020), has generated responses from unexpected quarters ranging from the Getty Centre (where a curator is researching a prominent dancer on the Bandmann Circuit) to more personal stories relating to family history. It is the latter that shall be explored here because family history, no matter who is engaged in it, whether the professional historian or the interested amateur, invariably engage in a form of micro-history which is itself an established methodology in the discipline. As I stress in the preface to my book, the family history of the Lopez family, recorded by Vanessa Lopez, the grand-daughter of Stephen Lopez, one of Bandmann’s managers, provides a superb documentation of the theatrical circuit. It already existed before I began my research, I drew on it extensively, and it is still accessible.

In early 2021 I was approached by the historian David Taylor, in relation to a family story with a possible connection to Bandmann. His great-grandmother had served as a ‘monthly nurse’ for a boy named Maurice E. Benson, who had „theatrical connections“. I knew the name, principally because he was mentioned in Bandmann’s will as a recipient of £1000, the same amount apportioned to the deceased’s mother and sister. This puzzled me at the time because I could find no reason why he should be so munificently rewarded. I knew only that he worked in some capacity for Bandmann’s companies in India but little more. He also played a role in briefly resuscitating the circuit after Bandmann’s death together with Alec Ross, another associate.

David Taylor wrote to me with information that the mother of Maurice Benson was Blanche Forsythe, perhaps the most prominent actress on the Bandmann circuit before 1910. They toured together in the UK and the Mediterranean during the 1890s, she was the major shareholder in Bandman’s ill-fated Mediterranean and the East Entertainment Syndicate Ltd, and she accompanied him on the first far eastern tours until around 1910. Her most famous stage role was the eponymous heroine in the hit novel and play Trilby. After that she embarked on a successful career as an actress in silent films.

Blanche Forsythe in the role of Trilby, ca. 1896. (Helena Cowell Collection)

Within David Taylor’s own family it was unclear who the father was, but the birth certificate showed unequivocally that Blanche Forsythe was the mother. Family oral history proposed that the father was the actor-manager, Frank Benson, who would be knighted for services to Shakespeare. In addition to the birth certificate, Taylor had also acquired court records referring to Bandmann’s divorce in 1904 where Blanche was mentioned as having a relationship with him. Here David Taylor can take up the story:

“The facts around Maurice Benson are shrouded in mystery. However, they are part of the Taylor family story and so I will set them out here. My father often told the story about a young child who was left first in the care of his Grandmother Mary Taylor in Appledore and then, after her death, with his own mother. The child was named Maurice Benson and was said to come from a theatrical family, his father being Sir Frank Benson (1858-1939) the well-known actor-manager. I started to investigate Maurice Benson to see what the facts were behind this family story and found that he was born on 28thDecember 1896 in a house in Bude Street, Appledore. His birth certificate states that his mother was Blanche Benson “formerly Forsythe” and his father was given as “Maurice Benson”, a theatrical performer. 

Certificate of Birth of Maurice Benson in Appledore on 28th December 1896. UK Registry Office.
1901 Census listing Maurice Benson living with Mary Elizabeth Taylor at 100 New Street, Appledore. [National Archives, UK]

In 1901 Maurice, aged 3, was living at 100 New Street, Appledore with Mary Elizabeth Taylor, widow of Thomas Taylor and mother of “Jonty” Taylor. In the census of that year Mary was described as a “Monthly Nurse”. The term “Monthly Nurse” was given to women who were employed for a short term to assist a mother with her new-born baby. Often care would start once a woman entered “confinement”. It usually continued for the first few weeks after a child born. At times the monthly nurse assisted with the birth itself and the line between midwives and monthly nurses was sometimes blurred.

Maurice Benson was still with Mary ten years later, in 1911, after she had moved to 2, Seaview, Appledore. On-line archives reveal that, from 1903 to 1906, Maurice attended Appledore Elementary School. He then went to Bideford Grammar School as a boarder until 1913. His registration details at Bideford Grammar state that his father was a “Theatrical Manager” and that his parents were “abroad”. After leaving Bideford Grammar his first job was as a “Clerk in Accountant’s Office.”

Mary Elizabeth Taylor (photo: Taylor family)

My researches revealed that Maurice Benson’s mother, Blanche Forsythe (1872-1953) was a well-known stage actress and that she also appeared in several early melodrama and historical dramas made with the Barker Films Company from 1912 onwards. Her full name was Blanche Victorine Forsythe. Despite what is said on Maurice’s birth certificate, Blanche never married.  She was best known for her roles in “East Lynne” (1912), “Jack Tar” (1915), “The Rogues of London” (1915) and the title role in “Jane Shore” (1915). She also played the title role in “She” (1916). Her last movie was “A Just Deception” (1917).

Blanche Forsythe in The Rogues of London (1915)

Although the name Benson seems to link both Blanche and her son Maurice to the well-known English actor-manager Sir Frank Benson (1858-1939) who founded his own company in 1883 and produced all but three of Shakespeare’s plays, the father is more likely to have been Maurice Bandmann, a well-known theatrical impresario.

In 1903 Blanche Forsythe was named in the divorce proceedings of Maurice and Gertrude Bandmann. The divorce papers state that Bandmann had committed adultery with Blanche Forsythe from about 1898. However, the papers also state that Bandmann had an affair with a lady named Florence Fletcher and that she had given birth to a child in September 1897. This seems to suggest that Bandmann was having relationships with a number of women at this time. Although the divorce papers state that his relationship with Blanche Forsythe started in about 1898, it now seems likely that he was the father of Maurice Benson who was born in 1897. Bandmann had a reputation as a womanizer.

Maurice Bandmann (1872-1922)

Maurice Bandmann went on to work closely with Blanche Forsythe both through her acting career and in business matters relating to his company. Maurice Benson also worked closely both Bandmann and Forsythe and travelled with them to Egypt, India and the Far East. In 1919 Maurice Benson travelled to India. The Passenger List for the vessel on which he sailed states his profession as “theatrical” and his last country of residence as Egypt. In India Maurice married Marjorie Eanswyth Lamport who died in 1951. The couple had a son named Maurice and a daughter named Doreen. When Maurice Bandmann died, he left the considerably large sum of £1,000 to Maurice Benson.

Everything points to Maurice Benson being the illegitimate son of Maurice Bandmann and not Sir Frank Benson as assumed by my father. Presumably Blanche put down the father as Maurice Benson to preserve Bandmann’s identity. My father told me that Maurice Benson returned to Appledore on a number of occasions to visit and that he was very kind to Maggie Jane Taylor. Perhaps this why Maggie Jane’s first child, who died in infancy, was named Maurice, and her daughter was called Blanche.

Although not part of the Taylor ancestry, Maurice Benson is an interesting character and his story links the Taylor family with one of the early stars of the silent films and a pioneer theatrical impresario.“

Evidence that Maurice E. Bandmann was the father of Maurice E. Benson is overwhelming. But why did they give their son the surname, Benson? Was it a kind of theatrical joke, or perhaps a desire to link the baby’s name to the father: Bandmann and Benson sound very similar and produce the same initials: MEB. Bandmann was married at the time of the birth, although already estranged from his wife, but presumably had little taste for a scandal. Both he and Blanche evidently remained on good terms because they continued their private and professional relationship for some years. The parents presumably also remained in contact with their common child (no doubt there were financial responsibilities as well in the arrangement) because once he became old enough young Maurice joined his father on the circuit. By 1919, when Maurice Benson went out to Egypt and India, Maurice Bandmann’s second marriage was on the rocks. Yet, he was joined by his illegitimate son and evidently integrated into the company and provided for in his father’s will. By 1922 he was listed on the letterhead of the Bandmann Eastern Circuit Ltd and the Madan Theatres Ltd as ‘Director & Secretary’ in Calcutta.

Letterhead of the Bandman Eastern Circuit Ltd. listing Maurice E. Benson as ‘Director and Secretary’ of the Calcutta office.

In the categories of romantic fiction, one could speculate that Blanche Forsythe, the beautiful and successful actress, was his great love but their relationship was destined never to be consummated in marriage. For the theatre historian, in the language of network theory, these were strong (family) ties that had always kept actor-manager families quite literally together on the road.


GTH Journal, Vol 3, 2, 2019 out now – Special Issue on Philanthropy and Developing Theatre

The fall issue 2019 of the Journal of Global Theatre History is now available online. It is dedicated to the theme Developing Theatre and Philanthropy and gathers contributions from Christopher Balme, Jan Creutzenberg and Nic Leonhardt. All three articles address case studies of promoting theatre practice and education through the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1950s and 1960s. Christopher Balme writes about expert networks, philanthropy and theatre studies in Nigeria, 1959–1969; Jan Creutzenberg illuminates the support of Yu Chi-jin and the Seoul Drama Center in Seoul, Korea. Nic Leonhardt‘s article, “The Rockefeller Roundabout of Funding” focuses on the promotion of Filipino theatre maker and playwright Severino Montano by the Rockefeller Foundation. 
The GTH Journal is an open access journal published by the Centre of Global Theatre Histories with Nic Leonhardt and Christopher Balme as its editors in chief.

Working Retreat of ERC Research Group ‚Developing Theatre‘ in Kochel am See

The team of Developing Theatre (ERC) in front of the Georg von Vollmar Academy, Kochel am See (Bavaria)

At the beginning of June, the entire team of the ERC project Developing Theatre went on a retreat in Kochel am See (Bavaria) to concentrate for two days on discussing specific topics relevant to the group’s research agenda. The place of retreat was the Georg von Vollmar Academy, situated on a green hill above the beautiful lake „Kochelsee“. Retreats as a working format have two positive sides: they allow a dense time to work together and to learn from each other; and they strengthen the team spirit. Both facets are essential for collaborative research.

In a real ‚think tank‘, the PhD students, PostDocs, Senior Researchers as well as current visiting researcher Patrick Ebewo (Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria) discussed the topic of „workshop as a format„: In the course of the 20th century, but especially since the middle of the century, this working format gained increasing importance in the context of theatre education and practice. Based on their respective research projects and source material, historical approaches to ‚workshop‘ as a concept, and theories, the researchers elaborated on this theme. A joint working paper on the topic is in the making and will be published on the project’s website in the coming weeks. 

Working ‚en plein air‘. Morning session above the lake; from left to right: Karim Hakib, Rebecca Sturm, Gideon Morison. (photo: Gwendolin Lehnerer)

A second focus during the retreat was on the concept and discourse of ’soft power‘, a term coined by Joseph S. Nye; according to Nye, ’soft power‘ is „the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than coercion and payment. A country’s soft power rests on its resources of culture, values, and policies.“ (Nye, Public Diplomacy and Soft Power, 2008). The reading of Nye’s and other selected texts on the topic and their critical reflection against the background of cultural diplomacy, philanthropy, the arts and media, formed the content of the second day.

The Developing Theatre team is very international, its members come originally from Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, New Zealand, Nigeria and Syria – a true intercultural benefit for each single of the researchers (and for multifaceted research in general). The themes of the retreat were deepened during expanded walks and hikes through the beautiful landscape of the so-called ‚Blue Land‚.

On the summit: part of the team on the Herzogstand, 1731 m above sea level (from left to right: Gautam Chakrabarti, Christopher Balme, Nic Leonhardt, Rebecca Sturm, Karim Hakib, Judith Rottenberg, Aydin Alinejadsomeeh) (photo: Gideon Morison)



Talk by Patrick J. Ebewo: „Theatre for Development (TfD) Communication: Polarities and Conflicts“

On Wednesday, 19 June, 12-2pm, our guest Prof Patrick J. Ebewo will give a talk on Theatre for Development (TfD) Communication: Polarities and Conflicts.

With Theatre for Development (TfD) interventions in some rural communities in Africa, the theatre landscape has undergone a major transformation following a paradigm shift from the elitist (conventional) mode of operation where performances are regarded as mere entertainment and vehicles of escape from mundane preoccupations of daily life to that which fulfils a major function in society. In response to a number of contemporary social challenges, TfD, one of the trends in applied theatre practice has emerged as a pragmatic post-modernist experiment that explores the relationship between theatre practice, social efficacy and community building. Theatre for Development advocates and encourages participatory, inclusive and community-oriented discourse. This is a socially engaged theatre that relies on the principle of dialogue for change, and functions effectively as an agent of empowerment in polarised, excluded and impoverished communities. In its various contexts and manifestations, TfD deals with the awakening of people’s critical consciousness; its goal ensures desirable adaptability and changes in human behaviour for the betterment and prosperity of humankind, and it acts as a vital force in the transformation of society. Though TfD has been regarded as a “model of good practice”, some of its intentions have fallen short of expectation. Some of the outlined principles in its blueprint seem not to conform with the goal and vision of the practice and practitioners. The aim of the presentation therefore, is to examine some of the challenges that Theatre for Development faces as an agency for rural education and conscientisation of people in some local communities in Africa.

Prof Ebewo is Professor at Tshwane University of Technology, Faculty of Arts, South Africa. He is currently guest of the Centre for Global Theatre History, the ERC Project Developing Theatre, and the Centre for Advanced Studies of LMU Munich.

The talk is open to the public and will take place at the Institute of Theatre Studies, Georgenstrasse 11, 80799 Munich, room #109.


Neues Forschungsprojekt „Theatersteuerung nach 1918“ im SfB Vigilanzkulturen, gefördert durch die DFG

Projekt unter der Leitung von Prof. Dr. Christopher Balme und PD Dr. Nic Leonhardt

Die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) hat am 22. Mai 2019 den Sonderforschungsbereich1369, Vigilanzkulturen bewilligt, einen auf 12 Jahre angelegten interdisziplinären Forschungsverbund an der LMU München.

Nic Leonhardt und Christopher Balme werden im Rahmen des SfB 1369 das Teilprojekt Theatersteuerung: Theater, Politik und Öffentlichkeit nach 1918 in Deutschland leiten. Das Projekt beschäftigt sich mit der Frage, auf welche Weise sich das Verhältnis zwischen Theater, Politik und Öffentlichkeit zwischen 1918 und 1936 durch die Aufhebung der Zensur, verstärktes finanzielles Engagement der öffentlichen Hand und Kontrolle durch die öffentliche Meinung, verstanden hier als Presse und Theaterpublikum, veränderte. Theater, so argumentieren wir, lässt sich als Ort der erhöhten, konzentrierten Aufmerksamkeit fassen und somit als (analytischer) Schauplatz einer gesteigerten Responsibilisierung der politischen und künstlerischen Akteure gegenüber dem Publikum.

Dem Projekt sind für die erste Förderphase zwei Doktorarbeiten zugeordnet, nämlich Decensorship: Theaterskandale und Öffentlichkeit, ein Teilbereich der von Sabrina Kanthak bearbeitet werden wird, sowie Vom Hofamt zur charismatischen Herrschaft: Der Intendant als Vigilanzfigur, ein Projekt, dem sich künftig Heili Schwarz-Schütte widmet.

Das Projekt nimmt seinen Anlauf zum 1. Juli 2019. Wir freuen uns sehr über die Bewilligung.

New Publication: Theater über Ozeane. Vermittler transatlantischen Austauschs (1890-1925) by Nic Leonhardt

The latest monograph by Nic Leonhardt, director of the Centre for Global Theatre History @LMU Munich, Theater über Ozeane. Vermittler transatlantischen Austauschs (1890-1925) (in German), was published recently. The book is about the history of theatre business and follows the professional itineraries and business strategies of hitherto unknown theatrical agents, playbrokers and producers (among them Alice Kauser, Elizabeth Marbury, Richard Pitrot and H. B. Marinelli) who handled the transatlantic showbiz. Theater über Ozeane enters the infrastructural „backstage area“ of global and cultural mobility in the late 19th and early 20th century, and is based on a rich body of primary sources from archives in the United States and Europe. 

The book will be officially launched on Wednesday, 12 December, 6.30pm, at IBZ Munich, Amalienstraße  38

Nic Leonhardt: Theater über Ozeane. Vermittler transatlantischen Austauschs (1890-1925). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2018 (341 pages, 38 illustrations; hard cop ISBN 978-3-8471-0805-4. Info and Order here.


„Iste – Ille. Here and There“. Keynote by Nic Leonhardt on Global Theatre Histories (Stockholm, 22-24 Nov, 2018)

Nic Leonhardt, Director of the Centre for Global Theatre Histories, has been invited as a keynote speaker to the symposium “From Local to Global: Interrogating Performance Histories”. The symposium is organized by the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, University of Stockholm, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, and will take place at the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

In her talk, entitled Iste-Ille. Here and There. What and Where is Europe in a Global History of Theatre?, she will introduce into ways and methodological challenges of writing the history/ histories of the performing arts from a transnational and global perspective.

Globale Theatergeschichte schreiben – ein Porträt im DFG-Magazin „forschung“, 2/2018

Kunst darf alles, Theater ist grenzenlos. Wie aber schreibt man ihre Geschichte(n)? – Die performativen Künste aus einer transnationalen, transregionalen, transkulturellen Perspektive zu schreiben, scheint so offenkundig – wie es lange ein Desiderat blieb. Mit dem von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) geförderten Reinhart Koselleck Projekt, “Global Theatre History”, das 2010 am Institut für Theaterwissenschaft der LMU München seine Anfänge nahm, haben wir dies zunächst im Kleinen probiert. Das internationale Netzwerk an wissenschaftlichen Partnern wuchs und wuchs mit den  Jahren. Fragen wurden mehr, unbearbeitete Felder der Theaterhistoriographie zeigten sich allerorts. Als die Förderung naturgemäß 2016 auslief, waren wir uns schnell einig, dass das erst der Anfang sein konnte. Also formten wir  das Centre for Global Theatre History, um den Diskurs um die historischen Verflechtungen der Theaterkünste über Grenzen hinweg weiterzuführen.
In der aktuellen Ausgabe des DFG-Magazins findet sich ein Porträt über die Ansätze und Arbeit innerhalb der Globalen Theatergeschichte, verfasst von Nic Leonhardt, neben Christopher Balme Direktorin des Centres.
Zum Artikel geht es hier: Nic Leonhardt: “Der Vorhang fällt nie”. In:  forschung. Das Magazin der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft. 2/2018, S. 22–27.
GTH Centre Logo Jan 2017Noch mehr Global Theatre Histories:

Conference Philanthropy, Development and the Arts: Histories and Theories (23-25 July, 2018), Final Programme

The final programme of our conference Philanthropy, Development and the Arts: Histories and Theories is now online and can be accessed here: Philanthropy Conference_23-25 July 2018_ final programme


Monday, 23 July, 5pm –

Wednesday, 25 July, 5:30pm

conference venue:

Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung – Südliches Schlossrondell 23 –80638 Munich

Keynote speakers:

Monday, 23 July, 6pm:

Volker Berghahn (Columbia University, New York City): American Foundations, the Arts, and high Politics (1898–2018)

Tuesday, 24 July, 11am:

Inderjeet Parmar (City University of London): Foundations of the US-led Liberal International Order: From the ‚Rise to Globalism‘ to ‚America First‘

Registration is mandatory. Please register via e-mail to Gwendolin Lehnerer indicating your name and affiilation:


#philanthropyconference2018 #DevelopingTheatre #PhilanthropyMunich #GTHCentre 

Eine Theaterlandschaft für Belgrad: Marija Đokić verteidigt erfolgreich ihre Dissertation

Marija Đokić, Doktorandin der Graduiertenschule Ost- und Südosteuropastudien der LMU und assoziiertes Mitglied des Centre for Global Theatre History, hat gestern erfolgreich ihre Dissertation verteidigt.

Ihre Schrift Eine Theaterlandschaft für Belgrad (1841–1914), ist ein essentieller Beitrag zur Theatergeschichte Serbiens und zur globalen oder transnationalen Theatergeschichte, die verstärkt Kulturtransfers in den Blick rückt. Über die vergangenen Jahre hat Marija, die in Belgrad und in München Geschichte studierte, einen beeindruckenden Quellenkorpus in unterschiedlichen Archiven Serbiens zusammengetragen, um anhand von Theater, das seit der Ernennung Belgrads zur neuen Hauptstadt Serbiens 1841 eine eminent wichtige Rolle spielte, das Wechselspiel zwischen dem Schaffen einer nationalen Identität und Prozessen der „Europäisierung“ herauszuarbeiten.

Grund zum Feiern ihrer erfolgreichen Dissertation. Marija Đokić und Nic Leonhardt (GTH Centre) Foto: C. Balme)

„Das Projekt beschäftigt sich vor allem mit verschiedenen Kulturtransfers in Belgrad in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Ziel ist es zu untersuchen, welche Theaterangebote in Belgrad existierten, wie diese organisiert wurden, welche kulturelle Größen beziehungsweise Staaten dabei als Vorbilder ausgewählt wurden. Verschiedene Formen von Theaterinstitutionen sollen untersucht werden: vom osmanischen Karagöz über das Nationaltheater bis hin zu privaten Boulevardbühnen, die denen europäischer Hauptstädte ähnelten. In meinem Dissertationsvorhaben steht die Theatergeschichte einer Stadt im Vordergrund, die aber in einem größeren kulturellen Raum betrachtet werden muss. Ein besonderes Augenmerk gilt dabei den Theaterakteuren wie Direktoren, Schauspielern und Autoren, die zum großen Teil transnational agierten, was die Untersuchung von Kulturtransfers in besonderem Maße ermöglicht.“

Wir freuen uns sehr für Marija und gratulieren ihr sehr herzlich. Auf das Buch freuen wir uns  jetzt schon, dessen Erscheinen wir selbstverständlich hier ankündigen werden.



5 Kontinente und eine Welt – Welt/Bühnen-Premieren am Residenztheater

Es ist ein künstlerisches Experiment, ein kuratorischer Dreh und kreiert neuartige Formen des Teilens, Tauschens und Austauschens im Theaterbetrieb: das Residenztheater München bespielt, maßgeblich initiiert und seit der Spielzeit 2016/17 vorangetrieben durch Dramaturgin Laura Olivi und in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Goethe-Institut, das Format der „Welt/Bühne“. Der Schwerpunkt liegt hier auf einer internationalen Dramatik. Warum? Unsere Welt ist in einer Weise vernetzt wie nie zuvor. Wir reden von und sind Mitspieler in globalisierten Welten, transnationalem Austausch und Transfer. Den Künsten kommt in diesem Geflecht eine wesentliche Rolle bei. Welche Rollen aber lassen sich der Dramatik in diesem Gefüge zuschreiben? Wie können wir sie global denken, können wir vernetzt schreiben?

Am 23. und 24. Juni, finden im Marstall in München gleich 5 Uraufführungen statt, Weltpremieren von 5 Autorinnen und Autoren aus 5 unterschiedlichen Kontinenten.

Ein Gremium von Theaterschaffenden, Kulturbeauftragten und Theaterwissenschaftlern hatte sich Ende 2016/2017 auf die Suche nach viel versprechenden Nachwuchs-Dramatikern in verschiedenen Teilen der Welt gemacht, nach „emerging voices“ ihrer jeweiligen Herkunftsländer, die Interesse an einer internationalen Schreibwerkstatt und -Workshops und an einem Austausch über die unterschiedlichen Theaterlandschaften, für die sie für gewöhnlich schreiben, hatten.

„Eine Welt? eine Generation? eine Zukunft?“, waren implizite Leitfragen. Wie sehen, wie beschreiben, wie bespielen junge Autoren diese Fragen? Und wie ließe sich dieser Diskurs in einen gemeinsamen Theaterabend gießen?

5 Autorinnen und Autoren wurden ausgewählt: Susanna Fournier (Kanada) – Zainabu Jallo (Nigeria) – Maria Milisavlević (Deutschland) – Santiago Sanguinetti (Uruguay) – Pat-To Yan (Hongkong).

Erster Workshop der internationalen Schreibwerkstatt im November 2017 auf der Probebühne des Residenztheaters. Foto: Konrad Fersterer für das Residenztheater (

In einem ersten Workshop-Wochenende im Herbst 2017, an dem auch Nic Leonhardt und Christopher Balme (Theaterwissenschaft der LMU, Centre for Global Theatre Histories) moderierend und beratend beteiligt waren, kamen wir mit den Autoren zusammen, gemeinsam mit Dramaturgen des Residenztheaters, der Bayerischen Theaterakademie August Everding, Vertretern des Goethe-Instituts.

Was treibt uns an und um, für wen schreiben wir? Welche überlappenden Themen lassen sich finden? Während des Wochenendes fand ein reger Austausch statt, Impulsvorträge, gemeinsame Ausstellungs- und Theaterbesuche, Besichtigungen der Bühnen des Bayerischen Staatsschauspiels und Lesungen. Und am Ende der drei Tage stand die Frage: wer könnte mit wem schreiben, zusammenarbeiten? Welche Themen wirken wie Brücken zwischen den individuellen Arbeiten und Stilen? Welche Struktur könnte der anvisierte gemeinsame Theaterabend haben?

Über das folgende Vierteljahr verfassten die Autorinnen und Autoren erste Teile ihrer Theatertexte. Ein zweiter Workshop im Februar brachte dann die fertigen Texte, ihre Verfasser sowie Dramaturgen, Regisseure und die Partner des Goethe-Instituts sowie die genannten Vertreter der Münchner Theaterwissenschaft erneut zusammen. Bühnenbildner Maximilian Lindner präsentierte sein Bühnenbild-Konzept, Regisseure und mögliche Besetzungen wurden vorgestellt.

Zweiter Workshop der internationalen Schreibwerkstatt auf der Probebühne des Residenztheaters im März 2018. Bühnenbildner Maximilian Lindner stellt sein Konzept vor. (Foto: Christopher Balme)

Die Autoren verfassten ihre Stücke auf Englisch und Deutsch. Für die Uraufführungen in München wurden sie ins Deutsche übersetzt, mit Bewahrung der englischen Originale in Übertiteln.

Was als Begegnung begann, schlug sich in den Stücken nieder, findet den Weg auf die Bühnen und berührt mehr als nur 5 Kontinente.

Die Website des Residenztheaters dokumentiert facettenreich in Fotos, Videos und kurzen Texten die Arbeit der Welt/Bühne.

Die Stücke werden am 23. + 24. Juni Marstall zur Ur-Aufführung kommen:

Susanna Fournier: antigone lebt*

Zainabu Jallo: White Elephants

Maria Milisavlević: Auf ewig unser Gestern

Santiago Sanguinetti: Bakunin – ein anarchistisches Stück

Pat To Yan: Bis ans Ende ihrer Tage


Bayerische Theaterakademie August EverdingFreunde des ResidenztheatersGoethe-InstitutInstitut für Theaterwissenschaft der LMU MünchenResidenztheater München.

Sharon Lehner, Guest of GTHC, on Emerging Performance Archives (13 June, 12-1:30pm)

On Wednesday, 13 June, Sharon Lehner (Brooklyn, New York), currently guest of the Centre for Global Theatre Histories, will be talking about her work at the HAMM Archives of the Brooklyn Academy for Music in Brooklyn (BAM), N.Y.

Her talk, Emerging Performance Archives, is taking place in the context of the colloquium of the Department of Theatre Studies (TWM) at LMU Munich

Time: Wednesday, 13 June, from 12 (sharp) to 1:30pm.

Venue: room #109, Theatre Studies Munich, Georgenstrasse 11, 80799 Munich

The event is open to the public. Registration is not required.


Performance is an ephemeral, impermanent experience. It is also typically collaborative, formed from a web of people, their relationships and ideas. Collecting and describing performance is fundamentally different from describing a physical object. That static repository model– archives as dusty, 19th century curio cabinet–has been replaced by a more contemporary living archive. A recent Google search for “Living Archive” brought up many thousands of hits. The term, appropriated by numerous disciplines, describes everything from open data projects in computer science programs to Asian Art Museums. While the use of the term Living Archive is applied differently across these projects, all seem to crave live-ness and who understands this better than those who create performance? Performance archives mirror the collaborative process they describe, creating webs of knowledge that can be connected back to the original event. Archiving performance is also practical, working with a dizzying array of media to collect, organize, describe, preserve, and make available objects related to performances, history, and people. We work with creators, performers, designers, photographers, videographers, subject area specialists, and numerous others. The process is open and creative, with discussion about how best to document and share work. Performing artists already understand the limits of representation and the power of embodied experience. In performance archives we attempt to reflect the complexity.

Biographical Note

Sharon Lehner has directed the BAM Hamm Archives in Brooklyn, New York since 1999. She holds degrees in Performance Studies and also in Historical Editing and Archival Management from New York University and has presented at conferences and published in both disciplines. She has served as a consultant to performance archives and acted as advisor to the Pina Bausch Archives from 2009-2017.  Recent projects include the launch of The Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive, an encyclopedic resource documenting the history of BAM, In Terms of Performance at BAM, Co-produced by BAM, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and UC Berkeley, an interactive installation exploring the terms that describe contemporary art and performance. Most recent publications include How to Create an Archive? Inheriting Dance: An Invitation from Pina ([transcript] Press, Verlag 2014) Forthcoming, BAM: The Next Wave Festival edited by Susan Yung and Steven Serafin and interview in the Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities in Theatre and Performance edited by Dr. Nic Leonhardt