Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
|Title:||Wagner and the Little Balletmaster That Could|
Department of Performance Studies
emergence of theatre director
|Abstract:||Theatre history accounts of the nineteenth-century always throw up the names of two geniuses of the German theatre who made significant reforms to the theatre of their day: Richard Wagner and the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. Richard Wagner wanted to create a new form of music drama, a 'gesamtkunstwerk' (“total art work”) uniting music, poetry, dance, the visual arts in works for which he was solely responsible. Accounts of the emergence of the director in the nineteenth century also regularly begin with the Duke’s resident court theatre troupe which toured widely throughout Europe to great acclaim up to 1890. Long before the Meininger troupe was formed, however, Richard Fricke had been putting together notable productions in Dessau, with singers who could also act, drawing on a system of movement training which he himself had developed—doing, in short, much of what the Duke has been credited with initiating. He’d been doing this for over 20 years, in fact, before Wagner visited Dessau in 1872, looking for soloists for the premiere of his Ring cycle at the new Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Wagner was amazed by the production he saw there—“I have never witnessed a more noble and more perfect theatre performance than this production”—and insisted that Fricke assist him in Bayreuth. He began by claiming that he needed only Fricke’s choreographic skills—”I do not need a ‘stage director’”—but he soon began to rely heavily on Fricke to recommend, recruit and train singers and performers; co-ordinate stage machinery and the performers’ use of it; choreograph scenes; and solve other problems of staging, scenery, props and costumes. The 'lone genius' did require help to realise his work: the contributions of others, and especially his 'ballet master'—actually more of an assistant or co-director—remain undervalued. This paper look behind the scenes at Bayreuth to investigate how performance preparation and rehearsal—essentially collaborative practices—may inflect a notion of individual, directorial ownership of a resulting production. This will allow me to problematise a remarkably persistent 'few great men of history' narrative, identifying other underacknowledged practitioners and their practices, and thereby also to cast new light on early developments in the evolution of the contemporary director.|
|Description:||This paper, along with Tim Fitzpatrick's contribution to this collection, was part of a panel on various aspects of the performance preparation process, flowing from a research cluster initiative which has been funded by the Network for Early European Research, and which is seeking ARC funding through the Discovery Grants scheme. This work focusses on attempting to understand what might have been involved in the preparation process before the arrival of the director in the late nineteenth century. The research involves traditional archival work to uncover evidence from company records, analysis of the textual remnants of the predominantly oral process of organising performance, and analysis of oral testimonies of participants.|
|Department/Unit/Centre:||Department of Performance Studies|
|Rights and Permissions:||Copyright Australasian Association for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies|
|Type of Work:||Conference paper|
|Appears in Collections:||Being There: |
This work is protected by Copyright. All rights reserved. Access to this work is provided for the purposes of personal research and study. Except where permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this work must not be copied or communicated to others without the express permission of the copyright owner. Use the persistent URI in this record to enable others to access this work.
|ADSA2006_Ginters.pdf||260.56 kB||Adobe PDF||View/Open|
Items in Sydney eScholarship Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.