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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New paper by Nic Leonhardt: „Re-routing the World Tour of the Boosra Mahin Siamese Theatre Troupe (1900)“

published in Theatre Research International, Volume 40 / Issue 02 / July 2015, pp 140-155

abstract:

„Bangkok, Singapore, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, St Petersburg – some thirty performers of the Boosra Mahin Siamese Theatrical Troupe toured the world in 1900. Daily newspapers enthusiastically reported on the unprecedented shows of the performers ‘from the land of the white elephant’. After they disappeared from the map of theatre history, in 2010 Thai choreographer Pichet Klunchun ‘revives’ the troupe in his performance Nijinsky Siam. He follows their October 1900 St Petersburg show – the very performance attended by choreographer Mikhail Fokine and costume designer Léon Bakst, who later worked closely with Vaslav Nijinsky. In 1910, Nijinsky’s La danse siamoise/Siamese Dance premiered at the Marinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. This article follows the routes of the Boosra Mahin Troupe on the basis of selected primary sources and from a global-historical perspective. In tracing the Boosra Mahin Troupe and their tours, the article not only maps their manifold routings and reroutings, but also advocates for the need for a global theatre historiography that puts past cultural entanglements and connected performance histories centre stage.“

Paper

MOOC on Theatre & Globalization @ LMU, Feb 16th. Instructor: Christopher Balme

gth moocThis Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) will discuss how theatre, a European cultural practice, spread rapidly around the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The modules will engage with both theoretical and historical perspectives on what is a relatively new area of theatrical research. How did plays, operas and ballets quite literally go global? What do we know about the itineraries of actors, singers, and dancers, what about the cosmopolitan audiences? What can we learn about agents and managers who facilitated the movement of theatre around the world?

Against the backdrop of recent research in the context of global and transnational history, based on case studies of the Global Theatre Histories research group, and enriched by numerous interviews with international experts, course instructor Christopher Balme and his team have developed a fascinating online course that will introduce students into theatre as a global phenomenon and familiarize them with global (historical) perspectives on theatre research.

https://www.coursera.org/course/globaltheatre

more MOOCs at LMU

Theatrical Agents in Asia and Europe: GTH Panel at the Annual Conference of the Cluster of Excellence in Heidelberg

Three members of the GTH team, Nic Leonhardt, Christopher Balme, and meLê yamomo, have been invited to organize a panel at the annual conference of the Cluster of Excellence „Asia & Europe in a Global Context“ (8-10 October, 2014, Heidelberg) They will present and discuss hitherto unknown facets and new findings on Theatrical Agents, Managers and Impresarios in Global Theatre Histories (1850-1920) in Asia and Europe.

Conference Theme: „Cultural Mediation: Creativity, Performance, Display“ 

Conference Organisation: Cluster of Excellence, Research Area B:  C. Brosius, M. Trede,L. Abu-Er-Rub, H. Harder

http://www.asia-europe.uni-heidelberg.de/en