At this year’s world congress of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) in Belgrade, Serbia (9-13 July, 2018), I will give a talk about ““The show business has gone all to pieces” – Theatrescapes, Mobility and Stasis during World War I.
In The Birth of the Modern World. A global history 1780-1914 (2008) the British historian Christopher A. Bayly used the formulation of a “paradox of globalization” to describe what initially seemed as two contradictory processes of globalization in the nineteenth and early twentieth century: On the one hand, the period from the mid-nineteenth century up to the First World War saw the formation of political, economic and ideological views of the sovereign nation state. On the other hand, there was an increasing and dynamic global interconnectedness and cultural mobility. Theatre plays an important role in this ‘two-faced’ dynamics in that it both serves as a ‘carrier‘ of nationalist and representational ideas, and is subject to an increasing transregional/ transnational mobility at the same time.
Between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century theatrical productions, performers, and plays circulate (often globally) on a larger scale than ever before, enabled by improved infrastructures of communication and transport.
By following the professional paths of selected theatrical agents, impresarios and performers, in my paper, I will focus on the impact the outbreak of the First World War had on the mobility of theatre. Based on primary material, and by applying perspectives of global theatre history, I shall demonstrate to what extent the War cut the infrastructural routes and trails of migration, and forced a massive ‘setback‘ and re-direction of theatrical practices and individual careers.
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