Translocating Theatre Histories

Translocating Theatre Histories

Christopher Balme & Nic Leonhardt, DFG Reinhart Koselleck-Project "Global Theatre Histories", LMU Munich, Theatre Studies
IBZ Munich, Amalienstrasse 38, 80799 Muenchen
Vom - Bis
19.08.2016 - 21.08.2016
Nic Leonhardt

From 19-21 of August the Koselleck project 'Global Theatre Histories' celebrates the final year of the project as well as the kick-off of the newly established Center for Global Theatre Histories with a symposium on Translocating Theatre Histories.

Outline of the Symposium:
Theatre historiography is currently undergoing major challenges as its fields of inquiry widen and its theories and methods metamorphose. While the highly productive debates of the 1980s and 1990s over the need for a ‘postpositivist’ historiography are now an acknowledged part of our disciplinary memory and methodologies, even those challenges to theatre historians have been superseded by a set of different concerns. While the postpositivists sought to excavate difference within bounded local or national cultural matrices, there is now an increasing awareness that much theatre both past and present is produced outside such matrices.
The term ‘translocation’ references the various spatial and theoretical repositionings that are currently occurring over concepts such as the ‘transnational’ and the ‘transregional’, both of which challenge the ‘containers’ of the local or the national. As theatre travels, so too do the conceptual frames with which we study it. Mobility is driven by various imperatives: migration, commerce, ideology, sometimes in combination with one another. Such translocations manifest themselves on at least three levels: artistically, as mobility creates new trajectories of cultural exchange, appropriation, and circulation; linguistically, as theatre was frequently performed and received in situations of linguistic asymmetry; and institutionally, as new ways of organizing and disseminating theatre create major adjustments, even dysfunctionality, for both artists and audiences. As theatre moves across geographical and linguistic borders, it leaves behind the cultural matrices that theatre historians like to use to ‘contextualize’ it.
These different translocations mean that as scholars we find the need to reposition ourselves vis-à-vis our methodologies and archives. National and local archives whether by design or serendipity often have lacunae and erasures of particular artistic, ethnic or colonial histories or they are unable to document the transnational and transregional theatre which is of interest here. While physical and material archives have perforce their limitations, digital technology may offer a means to address some of these problems. Digital technologies appear to make old methods seem obsolescent (although often they reintroduce old-fashioned positivist data collection) but at the same time they provide tools (OCR searching, mapping, data scraping and mining) for empirical research that quite literally open up new possibilities for the individual researcher.
Seen together, these translocations raise fundamental epistemological questions about the kinds of knowledge we as theatre and performance historians produce and its place within our wider disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts. The symposium is interested in exploring the tensions and asymmetries between the way our histories have been researched and taught and our archives are organized.
The proposed symposium seeks to investigate such translocations from three interlocking perspectives:

1) Spatial: examples of transnational and transregional theatre and performance ‘on the move’ and how such mobility, whether linguistic, artistic or institutional, forms a new field of theatre historiographical inquiry.
2) Methodological:can the prevailing ‘ethnographical’ model of cultural close-reading be adapted to capture such phenomena? What narratological models can be (have been?) developed to relate them within histories normally bounded by local or national agendas?
3) Archival: do the established collections still serve the theatre historian in the 21st century? Can digital technology ‘connect’ local archives into accessible networks that map the mobility of transnational theatre and performances?


Friday, 19 August

10-10:30 Welcome & Introduction
(Christopher B. Balme & Nic Leonhardt)

10:30-11:30 TERRITORIES

Marlis Schweitzer (York University, Toronto)
Children at Sea: Traveling the Empire

Maria Helena Werneck (Federal University of Rio de Janiero, Brazil)
Translocation and theatre: aesthetic and exploration tours of Rio de Janeiro between two centuries

Respondent: Leo Cabranes-Grant (UC Santa Barbara, USA)

11:30-11:45 Break

11:50-13:00 LOCALITIES

Marija Djokic (LMU Munich)
Translocation of Theatre Forms. Variety and Dance Theater from Munich to Belgrade.

Christopher B. Balme (LMU Munich)
Theatrical entrepôts: interconnecting locality
Respondent: Rustom Bharucha (JNU, New Delhi, India)

13-14:30: Lunch Break

14:30-16:30: SOUNDSCAPES

Laurence Senelick (Tufts University, Boston)
Musical Theatre as a Paradigm of Translocation

Catherine Yeh
Mei Lanfang and Twentieth Century Peking Opera: Transcultural Exchanges

Rashna Nicholson
'Operā or Bhoperā?': The origins of the modern popular South Asian 'musical'.

Respondent: meLê yamomo (University of Amsterdam/ LMU Munich)

16:30--16:50: Kaffeeklatsch

16:50-18:00: CIRCULATION

Anirban Ghosh
And then there were none: Indian magic and transculturalism in 19th century

Berenika Szymanski-Düll (LMU Munich)
Theatre and Multilingualism in the 19th Century

Respondent: Gero Tögl (LMU Munich)

18:00: Welcome Reception at IBZ

Saturday, 20 August

Wrap-Up Day 1 (Khalid Amine, Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tétouan, Morocco))


Paul Arthur (Western Sidney University)
Theatre, Performance and the Digital

Doug Reside (New York Public Library, New York City)
Theatre Collections in the Digital Age

Respondent: Catherine Cole (University of Washington)

16:15-16:45 Refreshments

16:45-17:30 Translocating Theatre Data: DIGITAL TOOLS
Backstage Report Theatrescapes- Mapping Global Theatre Histories
(Tobias Englmeier, Gwendolin Lehnerer, Nic Leonhardt, Lisa-Frederike Seidler)

17:30-18:30 Moving Forward: The GTH Center, Future Perspectives
(Christopher B. Balme & Nic Leonhardt)

19:00 – 22:00 GTH Sommerfest at IBZ
Sunday, 21 August

Wrap Up Day 2 (Marija Djokic & Anirban Ghosh)

10:15-12:00 RE-READINGS

Khalid Amine (Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tétouan, Morocco)
Double Critique and the Burden of Re-Writing Theatre History in the Postcolony
(The case of the Maghreb)

meLê yamomo
Translocating Sense and Sensibilities: Theatre as Kulturtechnik in British Colonial Southeast Asia

Tracy Davis (Northwestern University, Evanston)
Foreign Pests

Respondent: Christopher B. Balme

Pétit Dejeuner

Final Discussion & Closing Statements


Nic (Frau Dr. ) Leonhardt

LMU München, Institut für Theaterwissenschaft, Georgenstrasse 11, 80799 München
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