Global Theatre History · Publication · Theatre History · Transnational History

Negotiating the Entertainment Business: Theatrical Brokers around 1900

Special focus issue of the Popular Entertainment Studies Journal, Vol 6, No 2 (2015)

Guest Editor: Nic Leonhardt (Munich)

Brokers Detail“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)”, that I organised in October 2014. This conference, 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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I would like to thank Victor Emeljanow and Gillian Arrighi for their wonderful support in editing this issue.

Global Theatre History · Publication · Theatre History · Transnational History

New Paper out: “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

“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

Transatlantic Cultural Exchange

Transatlantic Theatrical Traces

Lyceum

In the context of my research on transatlantic theatrical exchanges between 1900 and 1930 I conducted extensive research at the Shubert Archives  in New York City within the last few years (among other archives in North America and Europe) (http://www.shubertarchive.org/index_flash.htm). This beautiful archive, located underneath the roof of the Lyceum Theatre close to Times Square (45th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue), is one of the most remarkable collections for studying the business side of theatrical history. Mark Swartz, archivist thereat and editor of the Shubert Archive’s Newsletter The Passing Show encouraged me to write an article about my research based on the material I had the pleasure to study at the Archive. And so I did. The respective issue with my article “Transatlantic Theatrical Traces: Oceanic Trade Routes and Globetrotting Amusement Explorers” just came out: http://www.shubertarchive.org/pdf/passingshows/PS2013_14Final.pdf

I would like to cordially thank Mark Swartz, Maryann Chach and Sylvia Wang from the Shubert Archive for all their curatorial support and countless inspiring conversations on American theatre around 1900.