German Theater and Performance Research

Drama and theater have been central to aesthetic concerns, and also to social and political engagement throughout the history of German-speaking central Europe–from the religious productions of the middle ages through the theater reform of the long eighteenth century to the polyvalent experiments of the 20th-century stage, and into today’s reimaginings of the theater’s dramatic and postdramatic potential; and this is to highlight but a few points. Because of this historical import, and the system of state subsidization that exists in much of the region to this day, drama and theater have maintained almost unparalleled significance in the socio-cultural landscape of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Accordingly, dramatic literature has played a leading role in German Studies research and education internationally. Alongside renowned dramatic authors, however, performance theory, dramaturgy, and innovative theater and performance practice have an equally compelling history in Germanic culture. And while text-based research on drama accesses important dimensions of literary, aesthetic and cultural history, it cannot tell the whole story of works that were conceived not only for the page, but also fundamentally for performance. As the field of performance studies develops independently and in relation to more traditional theater studies, furthermore, the potential for innovative research and teaching at the intersection of multiple academic disciplines grows exponentially.

GTPR takes as its premise that accounting for the aesthetic and experiential dimensions that are unique to live performance reveals essential access points into both theatrical literature and performance practice, and more broadly for scholars and for students, and also adds layers of nuance and meaning to analysis and interpretation. Research on theater and performance encompasses text, voice, and body; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experience; painting, music, lighting, and fashion; social, economic, and political matrices; national and transnational inquiries; questions of language, communication and meaning; and more. The public space and embodied dimensions of the live performance, furthermore, raise issues of normative and non-normative bodies, modes of political intervention, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, etc. If we are to make inroads into this dense web of meanings and modes of production as scholars and as educators, we must be able to employ and to teach the unique ways of reading, models of engagement, and methods for research that the rigorous investigation of theater and performance demand.

With this in mind, GTPR aims to provide a platform for scholars of German theater and performance to share ideas and resources, to network, and to collaborate. In doing so GTPR seeks to invigorate the field of German theater and performance in both research and teaching.