Multilayered Writing in Hamburg Prompt Books and Playbooks since the 18th Century
im Rahmen des Exzellenzclusters „Understanding Written Artefacts“ (DFG)
Part I (2019-2022)
The first part of the project examines a selection of multilayered prompt books and playbooks archived in the Hamburg Staatsbibliothek theatre collections. It investigates complex written artefacts from the Theaterbibliothek (theatre library), a collection including around 3.050 spoken theatre books for 2.100 plays. While the majority are manuscripts, around 500 of these are printed books with extensive handwritten annotations. All date from around 1765 to 1850 and originate from the theatre at Hamburg Gänsemarkt under various principals. Traces of usage in these books most prominently include handwritten corrections, additions (as well as their retractions), cuts, comments, instructions and other annotations. Moreover, complete supplementary pages often are glued over others, in select instances even multiple times. This refers especially to books that either were put to long-term use on stage (for up to 40 years) or, on the contrary, have been hastily reworked, possibly to save a failing production. The project closely analyses selected prompt books deemed exemplary with regard to their material ‘biography,’ the interplay of their multiple layers, their changing users as well as their relation to the theatre’s collective and at the same time ephemeral practices. In doing so, the project outlines a specific practice of handwriting within a period of time that is increasingly dominated by printed periodicals and books as well as a distinct notion of individual authorship.
Part II (2022-2025)
Building on the methodological approach developed in its first three years, the continuation of the project includes additional types of written artefacts from spoken theatre while branching out historically and further refining its framework: The project focuss on multilayered written artefacts from “Theatersammlung” (theatre collection) at Staatsbibliothek Hamburg. “Theatersammlung” contains more than 10.000 mid-1870s to mid-1980s prompt books and playbooks from mostly the still renowned “great” Hamburg theatre houses (Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Thalia Theater). The breadth of the collection puts the historic development of written artefacts in European spoken theatre over a century on display: A large number integrates drawings; handwriting persists and often dominates in the interaction with print, early typewriting and the history of photocopying. Above all, the early 20th century rise of the artistic director (“Regisseur”) gives way to a prominent new type of multilayered and multigraphic written artefact in the performing arts: the “Regiebuch” (director’s prompt book or, for better differentiation, “director’s log”) which, in sharp contrast with common academic approaches, the project will squarely situate within the performing arts manuscript culture as a whole. This holds especially true for the most spectacular items of “Theatersammlung”: director’s logs by one of the originators of European 20th century directors’ theatre (“Regietheater”), Leopold Jessner (at Thalia Theater from 1904 to 1915) whose main estate was lost during his exile.
- Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Martin Jörg Schäfer
- Laufzeit: 2019-2025
- Förderung: DFG
- Webseite: https://www.csmc.uni-hamburg.de/research/cluster-projects/field-d/rfd08.html