13 August 1961: And the Wall is built after all – Latest episode of the Theatrescapes Podcast illuminates the Berlin Wall and its impact on German theatre 60 years ago

Foto: Bundesregierung/Wolf
Workers building the Berlin Wall. August 1961. (photo: Landesarchiv Berlin 0076393/Horst Siegmann)

Exactly sixty years ago, on 13 August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected. It was not just any architectural structure, but was specifically intended to seal off the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from the western part of the city of Berlin and the surrounding areas. The Wall was 167.8 km long –a stone wall of ideological and political significance for the people on both sides of the Wall. Sixty years have passed since the Wall was built; it lasted 28 years. And although it fell in 1989, it has not lost its symbolic weight to this day.

In the latest episode of the Theatrescapes podcast, theatre scholar Nic Leonhardt talks to the young theatre historian Rebecca Sturm about the consequences of the building of the Wall for theatre in Berlin and in West and East Germany in the period after 1961.

Theatre Historian Rebecca Sturm (photo: private)
Theatre Historian Rebecca Sturm (photo: private)

Rebecca Sturm studied theatre studies at the LMU Munich and has been a research assistant in the ERC project Developing Theatre. Building Expert Networks for Theatre in Emerging Countries after 1945 (GA No. 694559) since 2016. Her PhD project examines the role of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) during the Cold War. Founded in 1948 under the umbrella of UNESCO), the ITI’s aim from the beginning was to create a worldwide network of theatre professionals and to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding. In her project, Rebecca Sturm particularly focuses on the two parts of Germany, East and West, which both became member states of the ITI in the 1950s.

The Theatrescapes Podcast is produced by the Centre for Global Theatre Research and the ERC project Developing Theatre (GA No. 694559) at LMU Munich. 

The Podcast episodes  are available on iTunes and Spotify

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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!

Conference “Philanthropy, Development and the Arts” (23-25 July): preliminary programme online

From 23–25 July, the ERC project Developing Theatre will hold its first international conference at the Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung. International scholars of disciplines such as international relations, art studies, performance studies, and history as well as representatives of foundations and museums will gather in Munich for discussing Philanthropy, Development and the Arts: Histories and Theories.

The preliminary programme can be accessed here.

 

 

Keynote Lectures (open to the public, registration mandatory):

Monday, 23 July, 6pm: Volker Berghahn (Columbia University New York): American Foundations, the Arts, and High Politics, 1898-2018

Tuesday, 24 July, 11am: Inderjeet Parmar (London): Foundations of the US-led Liberal International Order: From the ‘Rise to Globalism’ to ‘America First’

Registration: We cordially welcome external guests to attend the conference and/ or the keynote lectures. Please note: registration is mandatory due to the house rules of the Siemens Stiftung. If you would like to register, please send an e-mail indicating your name, e-mail address, affiliation, and if you would like to register for the entire conference and/ or the keynote lectures, to project assistant Gwendolin Lehnerer (MA):  gwendolinlehnerer@yahoo.com

For regular updates on the conference, please also consult the Conference Website .

 

Indian Theatre Artists and the Cold War. ERC Workshop at IIC, New Delhi, 29-30 Sept 2017

The first workshop of the ERC project Developing Theatre is taking place in New Delhi. Organized by Gautam Chakrabarti, PostDoc of the research group, this workshop brings together theatre, art and media scholars and practitioners from India and Europe at the beautiful India International Centre, New Delhi (29-30 September, 2017).

Post-independence India was one of the key sites where the “cultural Cold War” was fought–more often than not– with as much gusto and ruthlessness as its ideological and military counterparts. Theatre was one of the core areas in which this cultural conflict was played out between the 1950s and 1980s, with almost all the major players, both individual and collective or institutional, in contemporary Indian theatre having gone through the ’rite de tomorrow passage’ of ideological training. Academic exploration of these political contestations and problematisations of cultural practices, especially in the Indian context, have opened up larger horizons of possible enquiry. This workshop seeks to bring practitioners, scholars and witnesses of this fascinating history into dialogue with one another.

Participants: V. Akshara (NINASAM, Heggudu) – Christopher Balme (LMU Munich; PI ERC-Project „Developing Theatre“) – Trina N. Banerjee (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta) – Gautam Chakrabarti (LMU Munich, ERC-Project „Developing Theatre“ – Dwaipayan Chowdhury (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) – Anirban Ghosh (Jadavpur University, Calcutta) – Rakshanda Jalil (Writer, Critic and Literary Historian, Delhi) – Minakshi Kaushik (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) – Malashri Lal (Convener, English Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi, Delhi) – Nic Leonhardt (LMU Munich, Associate Director, ERC-Project „Developing Theatre“) – Raghunandana Sathamarshana (Poet, Playwright and Stage-Director, Bengaluru) – Tripurari Sharma (National School of Drama, Delhi) – Vani Tripathi-Tikoo (Member, Central Board of Film Certification, Delhi) –Atul Tiwari (Theatre-, Media- and Film-Practitioner, Independent Scholar, Mumbai)

The workshop is internal. The programme can be downloaded here.

New Article Out Now: Theatrical Institutions in Motion (C. Balme)

The first peer-reviewed publication of the new ERC project “Developing Theatre: Building Expert Networks for Theatre in Emerging Countries after 1945” just came out in the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism (vol. 31, 2, 2017).

In his paper “Theatrical Institutions in Motion: Developing Theatre in the Postcolonial Era” the project’s principal investigator Christopher Balme examines the complex transnational processes that led to an institutionalization of theatre in emerging nations after 1945.

Christopher Balme: “Theatrical Institutions in Motion: Developing Theatre in the Postcolonial Era”, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, vol. 31, no. 2, 2017, pp. 125–140.

Article available on Project MUSE.

 

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.”