The understanding of what is historic(al), how to write history and how to archive the past depends largely on the temporal and cultural setting of societies. Against the background of increasing globalization and transnational as well as transregional mobilities in contemporary times, the traditional eurocentric writing of theatre history, too, has become subject to revision during the past decade. Global, transnational or transcultural studies and history have provided a discursive framework for reconsidering the (performing) arts, and for highlighting the study of connections, transregional or transnational exchange, networks, circulation and mobility. Theatre has ever since been a very mobile art form, open to new forms and ideas, a playground for negotiating politics, history, ethics and gender politics––, and a means of representing local and national values.
How can we keep these dynamics and counter-dynamics in mind when writing theatre histories, what methodological challenges do we need to face? When, how, and in which shape does “Europe” step in? Who owns, collects, stores, and claims the heritage of “European theatre” in a world of connections? In my talk, I am going to elaborate on the paradoxes and challenges adumbrated above by selected examples from the theatre history of the early twentieth century including WWI. By doing so, I shall introduce parameters and historiographical approaches as initiated within the framework of Global Theatre Histories.
The talk will be taking place within the framework of the symposium “From Local to Global: Interrogating Performance Histories”, organized by the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, University of Stockholm, at the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.