Negotiating the Entertainment Business: Theatrical Brokers around 1900

Brokers Detail

Special focus issue of the Popular Entertainment Studies Journal, Vol 6, No 2 (2015)

Guest Editor: Nic Leonhardt (Munich)

“Between the artist who seeks for an engagement and the manager always on the look out for an extraordinary ‛novelty,’”, write Hughes Le Roux and Jules Garnier in Acrobats and Mountebanks (1890), “a third person necessarily intervenes, the middle-man, who arises everywhere between buyer and seller. And, in fact, at the present time all the principal cities of the world have their agents for performing artists of every kind. These personages are very important, and make large profits.”

Profits, Copyright, Royalties, Networking… From a transnational historical perspective, neither theatre as an art form nor theatre as a business can work without the patronage of professional mediators. When French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) toured Europe, South and North America in the late-19th and early 20th centuries, she could not do so without professional agents and managers. They were responsible for arranging her contracts, negotiating her royalties, taking care of the travel logistics, (ship, train, accommodation, customs), arranging her itinerary, the transport of her costumes, and the press work. Despite their enormous influence , the practices, connections and circuits of artistic brokers in the period under consideration have been, in the main, under-researched.

The current issue of the Popular Entertainment Studies journal gathers a selection of papers from the international symposium “Cultural Brokers. Nomenclature, Knowledge and Negotiations of (Performance) Agents, Managers and Impresarios (1850-1930)”, which took place in October 2014. This conference, organized by Nic Leonhardt, and generously funded by the Center for Advanced Studies of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the German Research Foundation, brought together scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds such as English and American Studies, History, Theatre Studies, and History of Law, in order to exclusively and intensively discuss the profession of brokerage in the larger theatrical world in the period under discussion. The focus was therefore on the profession of theatrical brokers, agents, and impresarios who functioned as crucial cultural mediators in the fields of the performing arts and media in Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia, and Africa between 1880 and 1930.

Table of Contents

Nic Leonhardt: Editorial

Christopher Balme: Managing Theatre and Cinema in Colonial India: Maurice E. Bandmann, J.F. Madan and the War Films’ Controversy

meLê yamomo: Brokering Sonic Modernities: migrant Manila musicians in the Asia Pacific, 1881-1948

Tracy C. Davis: International Advocacy for Fire Prevention: Calculating Risk and Brokering Best Practices in Theatres

Louis Pahlow: Industrialised Music Brokers as Competing Market Players: The Administration of Music Rights in Germany (ca. 1870-1930)

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