Developing Theatre: Building Expert Networks for Theatre in Emerging Countries after 1945

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Theatrical Epistemic Communities: Theory and History.

In the first year the theoretical concept of the epistemic community and its component expert networks will be refined. The task here is to consider how the concept as used in relation to scientific and technical communities can be adapted to the theatrical field. The theoretical considerations will lead into a historicization of the concept. It proceeds from the thesis that the international, multi-sited movement known as theatrical modernism – the idea that theatre is an art form and hence of high cultural value – provides the ideological basis of the community, albeit by no means in an organized form.

Its ‘prehistory’, to give only two examples, may be located in internationally distributed theatrical periodicals such as The Mask (edited by Edward Gordon Craig) or in the international theatre expositions of the 1920s (Vienna, Paris, New York) where common artistic values were displayed and discussed. They may also be found in new international organizations such as the Société Universelle du Théâtre founded in 1926, or in the amateur realm, La Comité International pour les Théâtres Populaires and the British Drama League which had by 1950 branches in dozens of English-speaking countries.

Permanent institutional form emerges in 1947 with the founding of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) (see topic area C), the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC) in 1956, and the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) in 1957, all of which initially had close ties through affiliation with UNESCO. An important feature of these organizations is that they emphatically sought to bridge the East-West divide. In the postcolonial context the epistemic community appears to split into artistic and developmental camps (Theatre for Development, TfD), with the latter eventually monopolizing most NGO and government funding. The reasons for and ‘critical junctures’ surrounding this split will be integrated into a wider narrative.