“Cold War University” – special issue of the open access online Journal of Global Theatre History fresh from the digital press

We are delighted to announce that we just published a new issue of our online Journal of Global Theatre History: The recent edition is dedicated on the topic of “Cold War University” and comes with 80 pages full of great content. The edition is the outcome of an international workshop on “Cold War University: Humanities and Arts Education as a (Battle)field of Diplomatic Influence and Decolonial Practice”, organized in fall 2020 by the ERC project Developing Theatre (GA No. 694559) under the auspices of Judith Rottenburg and Lisa Skwirblies

The issue addresses epistemological questions from historical, geopolitical, and institutional perspectives by investigating the reciprocal influence of Cold War politics and the conceptualization of universities. The contributors elaborate on the role Cold War politics played in the development of the university and arts education – in particular theatre education – as we understand them today; and, conversely, the role that the university and arts education – again, in particular theatre education – played in Cold War politics and the politics of decolonization that formed part of it.


Nic Leonhardt: Editorial

Judith Rottenburg & Lisa Skwirblies (guest editors):” Cold War University. Humanities and Arts Education as a (Battle)field of Diplomatic Influence and Decolonial Practice”

Christopher Balme: “Arts and the University: Institutional logics in the developing world and beyond”

Gideon I. Morison: “Undercurrents of Anglo-American Collaboration: Funding, Training and Cold War Influences on the Theatre Studies Curriculum of Selected Nigerian Universities” 

Hasibe Kalkan: “On the Role of the Rockefeller Foundation in Establishing Theatre Education Programmes and Transnational Theatrical Spaces in Turkey during the Cold War” 

Lisa Skwirblies: “Performing the Politics of Non-Alignment in Cold War Germany”

Viviana Iacob: “The University of the Theatre of Nations: Explorations into Cold War Exchanges” 

The journal is fully open access.

We wish our readers an insightful and inspiring read.


The Journal of Global Theatre History is published twice a year. We continuously accept paper proposals on the global history of theatre as well as papers addressing the globalization of theatre. Questions regarding the Journal can be sent to the editors, Nic Leonhardt & Christopher Balme (Nic.Leonhardt@lrz.uni-muenchen.de). 

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.


“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 (david@taylorcobham.co.uk)

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.

Journal of Global Theatre History: Vol. 3, no. 1, 2019 out now.

Fernanda Torres in The Flash And Crash Days

The peer-reviewed online Journal of Global Theatre History has recently published its 3rd issue.

Explore this new issue and learn about the popular genre joyūgeki  (actress play) in Japan,  about theatre education in the Levant, i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine, between late 1940s and early 1990s, and about the influence that new paradigms and global circuits have exerted locally on the relationship between theatre aesthetics and production in Brazil.

Contributors are Ayumi Fujioka on „A New Notion of Time in Modern Tokyo Life: A Comedy at High Speed at the Imperial Theatre in the 1920s“, Ziad Adwan onImaginary Theatre. Professionalising Theatre in the Levant 1940-1990“, and Gustavo Guenzburger on „Transnationality, Sponsorship and Post-Drama: „The Flash and Crash Days“ of Brazilian Theatre. With an introductory comment by Nic Leonhardt.

We would like to thank all authors for sharing their research and ideas and allowing us to publish their stimulating papers.

“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: www.gth.theaterwissenschaft.uni-muenchen.de www.gth.hypotheses.org

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.



CfP: “Philanthropy, Development, and the Arts”, International Conference, 23-25 July, 2018

From 23-25 July, 2018, our ERC funded project Developing Theatre will be hosting its first international conference with a special focus on Philanthropy, Development and the Arts: Histories and Theories. At the conference, we seek to interrogate the impact of philanthropy on the field of arts – visual arts, theatre, music, dance, opera, drama education, etc. –  between the 19th and 21st centuries. The conference aims at discussing the work, impact, successes and failures of private and corporate philanthropy and NGOs, including semi-statist organizations such as the Goethe Institut, or the British Council, from the perspectives of history, cultural history, political sciences, art and theatre history.

We are looking for paper proposals addressing the following aspects:

  • Shifting discourses of philanthropy in respect to arts and cultural funding
  • Philanthropic and NGO initiatives in the arts in countries such as Africa, India, Chile, etc.
  • From colonialism to philanthropy: the de/re-colonization of cultural aid
  • Philanthropy vs./ the state: how non-governmental can non-governmental organizations be?
  • Case studies on the private funding of arts and artists with a special focus on development
  • Case studies on field officers, representatives and ‘arts experts’ in charge of philanthropic foundations and NGOs
  • Soft power: arts philanthropy and cultural diplomacy
  • Other related topics will also be considered.

The complete call for papers can be downloaded  here.

Deadline for paper proposals: 30 November, 2017.

The conference will take place from Monday, 23 to Wednesday, 25 July, 2018 at Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung, Munich.

A preliminary programme will be available by spring 2018.

For any inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact PD Dr Nic Leonhardt, Associate Director of the Developing Theatre Project: n.leonhardt@lmu.de.




new series: A Cultural History of Theatre (ed. C. B. Balme & T. C. Davis), Bloomsbury

Edited by Tracy C. Davis and Christopher B. Balme, this new Cultural History of Theatre series offers an insightful survey from ancient times (500 BCE) to the present. The set of six volumes covers a span of 2,500 years, tracing the complexity of the interactions between theatre and culture.
Each volume discusses the same themes in its chapters, namely Institutional Frameworks,  Social Functions, Sexuality and Gender, The Environment of Theatre, Circulation, Interpretations, Communities of Production, Repertoire and Genres, Technologies of Performance, and Knowledge Transmission: Media and Memory.

Volume 1: A Cultural History of Theatre in Antiquity (Edited by Martin Revermann)
Volume 2: A Cultural History of Theatre in the Middle Ages (Edited by Jody Enders)
Volume 3: A Cultural History of Theatre in the Early Modern Age (Edited by Robert Henke)
Volume 4: A Cultural History of Theatre in the Age of Enlightenment (Edited by Mechele Leon)
Volume 5: A Cultural History of Theatre in the Age of Empire (Edited by Peter Marx)
Volume 6: A Cultural History of Theatre in the Modern Age (Edited by Kim Solga)

Five GTH Centre members contributed to volume 5, A Cultural History of theatre in the Age of Empire: Jim Davis, Nic Leonhardt, Derek Miller, Stanca Scholz-Cionca, and Laurence Senelick.

New Publication Out: The Bayreuth Enterprise (1848-1914) by Gero Tögl

Gero Tögl, former PhD student of the Global Theatre Histories research project and associate of the GTH Centre, has just published his PhD thesis The Bayreuth Enterprise, 1848-1914.

In this monograph, Gero reassesses the early history of the Bayreuth Festival between 1848 and 1914 from the perspective of a transnational social project dedicated to the ‘regeneration’ of modern societies and istitutional reform.  Based on recent debates in globalization theory, ethnography, and anthropology, the book focuses on the interplay of seemingly contradictory aspects such as financing and anti-capitalist ideology, nationalism and the cosmopolitan reach of Wagner’s ideas, artistic monopolization and global marketing.

Gero Tögl: The Bayreuth Enterprise (1848-1914). Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2017. (ISBN  978-3-8260-6011-3) 

IFTR 2017 in São Paulo – Annual Conference

Since 1957, the year of founding of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR), theatre scholars and IFTR members from all parts of the world (in fact from 44 different countries!) meet for their annual conference.

Both the conference theme and the location vary from year to year. The IFTR 2017 conference has a focus on Unstable Geographies: Multiple Theatricalities, and will be hosted by the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Five associates and researchers of the Centre for Global Theatre Histories and the ERC project Developing Theatre will be attending #IFTR2017 and present papers on their current topics of research:

Christopher Balme: Theatrical modernism for the world: Theatrical Epistemic Communities 1920-1960.

Gautam Chakrabarti: The Red Bear has Awoken!: Soviet Engagement with Indian Theatre Artists in the Cold War.

Nic Leonhardt: “… Enlarging the Boundaries of Human Knowledge“– by Means of Theatre: Multiple Theatricalities and the Philanthropic Agenda of Stabilizing Cultural Geographies after 1945.

Rashna Darius NicholsonWhat’s in a name? The role of language in the invention of colonial and postcolonial South Asian theatre history

Azadeh SharifiDis/Continuity of Post-migrant theatre in Germany theatre history.


Public Talk on ‘Post-Migrant’ Theatre

Was war vor dem Post?

Eine historische Perspektive auf postmigrantisches Theater.

We happily announce and cordially invite to the public talk on Post-Migrant Theatre by Azadeh Sharifi, associate of the Centre for Global Theatre History,

Dr. Sharifi’s talk (in German) will take place on Wednesday, 17 May, 12am (sharp)-1:30pm at Georgenstraße 11, 80799 Munich, room 109.  The event is jointly organized by the Department of Theatre Studies LMU and the Centre for Global Theatre History.

Azadeh Sharifi abstract & biographical note





Public Talk: Theatre in Occupied Berlin and Vienna, 1945-1948

theater1Public talk by Rebecca Rovit (University of Kansas, Fulbright Fellow IFK Wien) Organized by the Centre for Global Theatre Histories.

30 November, 2016, 12-2pm. Theaterwissenschaft, Georgenstrasse 11, 80796 Muenchen, room #109.

“Cultural historians have not sufficiently analyzed how theatre directors and performers coordinated artistic endeavors in the years before Soviet and Western-Allied powers set parameters for cultural life in postwar Berlin. The re-emergent culture after 1945 arose from an artistic collaboration between German-language artists and military officers from four zones of foreign occupation. Evidence suggests that before a German defeat was inevitable, Soviet leaders and exiled artists planned a future cultural policy for Germany and Austria. Officers in the occupied zones recognized the political power of culture and subsidized theatre. Artists knew that the theatre could be a useful conduit to bring recent history to the public. What does this suggest about the theatre repertoire in Vienna, another city, defeated and managed by four world powers? This lecture will explore the interplay of forces that defined the cultural heritage of the occupation in the early postwar years, while tapping into historiographical, national narratives of Germany and Austria.”


Suche in OpenEdition Search

Sie werden weitergeleitet zur OpenEdition Search