Conferences / Symposia · Digital Culture · Digital Humanities · Digitales Kuratieren, Digital Curating · Performance Studies · Theater international · Theatre Archives · Theatre History

deadline extended to 1 March! – IFTR 2019: Working Group Digital Humanities to meet in New York, 1-4 May

brodway image kopieThis year, the Digital Humanities in Theatre Research working group of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) will not meet at the 2019 conference location (Shanghai), but in New York from 1-4 May.
The call for papers for the meeting can be found here .
We look forward to receiving proposals for lectures or presentations until 1 March, 2019.
Nic Leonhardt & Doug Reside (convenors of the working group & organizers)



Conferences / Symposia · European Theatre · Global Arts · Global Theatre History · Media History · Performance Studies · Theater international · Theatergeschichte · Theaterwissenschaft · Theatre Archives · Theatre History · Transnational History · Vortrag, Public Talk

Iste – Ille. Here and There. Keynote on Global Theatre History (Stockholm, 22-24 Nov, 2018)

sarah bernhardt american fareell tour_Mucha 1906
Poster, 1905, designed by Alfons Mucha for Sarah Bernhardt’s “Farewell American Tour”, 1905-1906.

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.

Conferences / Symposia · Digital Humanities · European Theatre · Global Theatre History · Theater international · Theatergeschichte · Theaterwissenschaft · Theatre Archives · Theatre History

IFTR World Congress 2018 in Belgrade

IFTR Belgrade 2018From 9 to 13 July, this year’s annual conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) will be taking place in Belgrade, Serbia. The conference theme is highly topical: Theatre and Migration. Theatre, Nation and Identity: Between Migration and Stasis. The programme can be downloaded here or from the conference website.

In Belgrade, I will be meeting with my working group “Digital Humanities and Theatre Research”. Besides, I will give a conference paper entitled “’The show business has gone all to pieces’ – Theatrescapes, Mobility and Stasis during World War I”.

Archiv · News · Performance Studies · Theater international · Theatre Archives · Theatre History

SIBMAS – Vice-Presidency

SIBMAS Header.pngAt this year’s SIBMAS conference in Paris I was given the office of the new Vice-President of the organization.

SIBMAS is the Société Internationale des Bibliothèques, Musées et Archives des Arts du Spectacle/ International Association of Libraries, Museums, Archives and Documentation Centres of the Performing Arts, and was founded in 1954.

I am very grateful and would like to thank the committee for their faith. I look forward to working for the organization, jointly with new President Barry Houlihan (Galway, Ireland) and the ExComm.

The next SIBMAS conference (2020) will be taking place in Warsaw.



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SIBMAS Conference in Paris, Talk on Historical Images of the Audience

Nic paper SIBMAS 2018_intro
photo: Barry Houlihan. Merci!

In the framework of this year’s conference of the Société internationale des bibliothèques, musées et archives des arts du spectacle (SIBMAS) in Paris, I talked about my work on visual arts and historical depictions and concepts of “the audience” in different cultural spheres. The talk was entitled Veo Veo* – in ‘5D’: Iconographies of Theatrical Audiences as Archival Bequests of Perception.


The theme of this year’s SIBMAS conference is “Being Successful together. Participate, share, cooperate in safeguarding  performing arts heritage”.  (Programme).


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Im Rampenlicht: “The Theatre Cat”

Historische Forschung im Archiv generiert ihren Zauber auch durch unverhoffte Funde, die sich beim Durchblättern von Materialien auftun. Die Abweichung vom eigentlichen Fokus, vom wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisinteresse, das der Entscheidung, einen Korpus zu sichten, stets vorausgeht, ist nicht zu planen. Die Aufmerksamkeit wird (ab-)gelenkt, wenn sich ein Stichwort oder ein Bild in den Augenwinkel schiebt, auf das ein anderes berufliches oder auch persönliches Interesse geeicht ist. Diese Ablenkungen sind höchst willkommen. Denn durch sie kann im besten wissenschaftlichen Sinne der Zufall eine neue Idee zuspielen – auf anderen Ebenen mag er in einem Schmunzeln münden, und plötzlich fühlt man sich dem historischen Material noch ein Stückchen näher. Es wird ‘heutiger’.

The Theatre Cat New York Dramatic Mirror March 1894

Cat content ist so eine Aufmerksamkeitsumlenkungsfalle. Als Begriff recht rezent und in enger Verbindung mit digitalen (sozialen) Medien genutzt, als Phänomen aber doch mindestens so alt wie die Presse. Gefunden in einer März-Ausgabe des New York Dramatic Mirror aus dem Jahr 1894 (einem Fachjournal für die darstellenden Künste), – zufällig natürlich – , offenbart der Artikel “The Theatre Cat”, dass man auch vor 124 Jahren mit Speck schlicht Mäuse fing. In den Medien wie im Theater. Im Kontext der entsprechenden Zeitungsseite ist die Meldung gar einer Personalie vorangestellt, und auch hinsichtlich der Zeichenanzahl sind die Prioritäten hier klar gesetzt: im Rampenlicht gewinnt das Feline! Im geschilderten Fall stiehlt eine gelbe Katze dem Hamlet-Darsteller die Show, Shakespeares Stoff die Tragik, und dem porträtierten Courtlandt Palmer den Medienauftritt für sein Debüt als Pianist:

The Theatre Cat New York Dramatic Mirror March 1894

“EVERY well-organized theatre – like every well-conducted newspaper – should have a cat. And there are probably few theatres in New York that do not keep one of those useful animals for the purposes for which the cat seems to have been created. But there are theatres that keep a cat so carelessly that the feline, when supposed to be watching for rats or mice in some dark corner, now and then walks disconcertingly in upon some critical scene in a play and queers the performance. 

The unexpected – especially if it be in the theatre – seems always to please an audience, if it has no element of danger. If it have [sic] an element of absurd contrast, the surer it will be to please. And the love of the ludicrous is so strong that the average theatre auditor will relax from intense sympathy with a sublime personation even of SHAKESPEARE to exercise the risibles over the accidental advent of a cat upon the scene. 

This is suggested by the interruption of a performance of Hamlet in the Schiller Theatre, Chicago, the other day, by a yellow cat that became meteorically active from stage fright the moment it confronted the footlights.

The animal alarmed as well as disconcerted the actors on the stage, not excepting the star himself, and it was some minutes after it had disappeared “like a yellow streak” from the scene that anything like seriousness was restored. As it was, Hamlet from that moment ceased to be tragedy for that night. 

We in New York see the cat occasionally; and whether it be yellow or black, brindle or gray, the result is always the same. Not even the most intense and exciting moment of an IRVING production can successfully withstand the intrusion of a cat.”

(The New York Dramatic Mirror, 3 March, 1894)

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