(Re-)Collecting Theatre History
Collaboration Networks of Theatre Practitioners in Digital Space
Prof. Dr. Peter W. Marx | Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Institute of Media Culture and Theatre
Collaborative Research Project between the Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung (TWS), the University of Cologne, and the Institute of Theatre Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, in co-operation with the Cologne Center for e-Humanities (CCeH) and the Theatre Museums of Düsseldorf and Munich, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
A theatre performance is usually the result of an intensive and months-long collabor- ation of a group of people coming from highly diverse professions. Intendant, dramaturg, director, actors, stage and costume designers, and technicians constitute an intricate network that exists only for a limited period of time and, through organized teamwork, realizes the idea of a theatre production on stage.
In its new research project (Re-)Collecting Theatre History, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung (TWS) is tracing these ephemeral networks of the 20th Century. The project aims to develop new perspectives and to re-systemize existing archives dealing with individuals as found in the theatre collections of the University of Cologne, the Freie Universität Berlin as well as the Theatre museums of Düsseldorf and Munich. The starting point of the inquiry is the seemingly ‘random’ biographical order of archival material (oftentimes in the form of estates) that questions the established theoretical categories of theatre historiography and consequently allows for new perspectives concerning the cultural history of theatre. Due to the eventful political history of Germany between 1900 and 1960, the project will – beginning with carefully chosen archival collections – examine continuities and discontinuities concerning work processes, artistic perspectives, and networks of theatre practitioners.
With the help of a digital research portal, developed by the Cologne Center for e-Humanities (CCeH) in collaboration with the TWS, selected personal estates in the collections of Cologne and Berlin – complemented by inventories of the theatre museums in Düsseldorf and Munich – will be (re)united in a virtual space. This digital platform – available and expandable for future projects – opens up interconnections among the most important university theatre collections and public theatre museums in Germany. It also creates a research network consisting of university institutes of Theatre Studies, university collections and public museums.
It is our goal to investigate the tension between biography and history. Hence, the project uses the biographical coordinates to tell the story of theatre, a story that runs counter to the historically recognized boundaries of epochs.
Text: Nora Probst
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Project Coordinators: Dr. Vito Pinto, Nora Probst
Researchers: Andreas Mertgens, Enes Türkoglu