Theatre Migrants 1850-1918 – Motivations, Trajectories, Impacts
Conference organized by: Berenika Szymanski-Düll, LMU Munich, ERC-Project T-MIGRANTS
29 – 31 March 2022, Munich
Migration has always been part of human history, but with the advent of steamships and railways, the phenomenon of mobility, and especially the phenomenon of emigration, took on a new dimension in the nineteenth century. In Europe, intra-European migration and emigration overseas proceeded side by side: millions of Europeans left their homelands and moved – for economic, political or religious reasons – to foreign countries and continents, resulting in increasing crossing of borders and the entanglement of cultures in a time of strong nation-building processes. The theatre – one of the mass media of the day – was profoundly affected by this phenomenon. Many people from the theatre business, such as actors, dancers, opera singers, stage directors, playwrights, theatre managers and impresarios, were involved in this process. In the following, they are referred to as theatre migrants. Their emigration, which has been the subject of little research so far, was – like that of all other migrants – usually difficult, involved deprivation and triggered xenophobia, but at the same time it increased the potential for creativity and brought about major institutional and aesthetical transformations within the booming theatre business of the time.
This first conference of the ERC research project T-MIGRANTS (www.t-migrants.com) aims to bring together international researchers working on the topic of migration within theatre. We are looking for nuanced investigations of the motivations, circumstances, experiences and actions of European theatre migrants – who spread all over the world – and the consequences of their emigrations in the period from 1850 to 1918. Within the conference, we want to discover forgotten actors and learn from their biographies. We will contextualise and discuss the problems, negotiations and tensions their migrations raised, reconstruct routes and connections across geographic, cultural and political borders and consider their crucial influence and impact on the theatre of the time. Regarding migration as an open-ended and dynamic process and identifying theatre migrants as important decision makers, we welcome papers that address these issues and, as far as possible, focus on a case study of specific theatre migrants. Topics covered may include: