BG -- Theater and Performing Arts

Münchner Volkstheater im 19. Jahrhundert und ihre Direktoren [Munich Folk Theaters and Their Directors in the 19th Century]. Ed. Erni Maxstadt. München: Buchendorfer, 2002. 234 p. ill. 28 cm. ISBN 3-934036-86-4. EUR 32 [03-1-185]

The author has filled her work on the 19th-century folk theater in and around Munich with faces, theater broadsides, newspaper announcements, and city maps to present an overview of the directors, actors, and theatrical families of the time. Th e content is not so much conventional biography as a mélange of biographical tidbits and comments from the contemporary press, all copiously illustrated. Th e appendix offers a bibliography, archival notes, and a listing of source periodicals. [sh/mjc]

Film: An International Bibliography. Malte Hagener and Michael Töteberg. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, 2002. x, 479 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-476-01523-8: EUR 74.90 [03-1-186]

This selectively annotated international film bibliography encompasses almost 12,000 books about film that were published between 1895 and 2000, primarily in English, French, and German. There are numerous indexes. The coverage of multi-media and video is rather weak, and the subject categories that are used are occasionally confusing. Nevertheless this solid bibliography will serve as a standard for other bibliographies on the topic and belongs in the collections of all larger libraries. [wub/ldl]

Die Karl-May-Filme. Reinhard Weber. Landshut: Fachverlag für Filmliteratur, 2002. 241 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 3-9802987-8-7: EUR 24.80 (R.-Weber-Verlag für Filmliteratur, Litschengasse 712C, D-84029 Landshut) [03-1-187]

According to the author, this second edition is a “complete revision” of the first edition of 1991. The author mentions in the foreword that several works (some splendid) about films based on Karl May’s novels have been published; these probably include titles by Michael Petzel such as: Karl-May-Filmbuch [Karl May Film Book] (see in RREA 7:154); Der Weg zum Silbersee: Dreharbeiten und Drehorte der Karl-May-Filme [The Path to Silver Lake: Shooting and Locales of the Karl May Films] (see RREA 7:155); as well as Ich war Winnetous Schwester: Bilder und Geschichten einer Karriere [I Was Winnetou’s Sister: Pictures and Stories of a Career] (Bamberg, 2003) by Marie Versini and Karl-May-Stars (see RREA 9:85). In contrast to the Karl-May-Filmbuch, which also takes account of television productions, Weber limits himself to cinematic films, which he lists chronologically and describes in detail, beginning with three silent films from 1920. His main concerns are a comparison of the film with the literary text, the film adaptation itself, and critical appraisal. There are also anecdotes and critical opinions of the films. The usual filmographic details are at the beginning of each film description. The illustrations include black-and-white show stills, pictures taken during shoots, and other photographic memorabilia, such as color plates from hand-colored advertising posters. This book will interest Karl May fans and public libraries. [sh/gh]

Das tägliche Brennen: eine Geschichte des österreichischen Films von den Anfängen bis 1945 [The Daily Rushes: A History of Austrian Films from Their Beginnings to 1945]. Elisabeth Büttner and Christian Dewald. Salzburg; Wien: Residenz-Verlag, 2002. 515 p. ill. 25 cm. “Österreichische Filmografie 1906–1944” by Anton Thaller, p. 412–467. ISBN 3-7017-1261-1: EUR 34.90 [03-1-188]

The publication of Das tägliche Brennen offers an opportunity for a brief overview of newer titles on Austrian film history. The volume supplements the authors’ 1997 history of postwar Austrian film, Anschluß an Morgen [= Takeover of Tomorrow], covering the period of the monarchy up to World War II. In a rich and well thought-out physical format, the two volumes give information about the lines of development, themes, and special issues in the history of Austrian films, weaving in information about cultural and political contexts, movie theaters, and critical reception. The authors do not present a straight chronological history of Austrian films; rather they present motifs and ideas, with the films themselves at the center. These films include not only feature films but also documentaries and propaganda films. Interspersed are still photographs, some reprinted texts, and separate texts about persons and themes. Sometimes the volumes seem pretentious and badly organized, but they remain interesting and are good reading. Both volumes include the necessary basic information: a chronological filmography (though only with the most important data), a classified bibliography, an index of persons, and an index of film titles.

Two other collections about the earlier history of Austrian film can be recommended: Ohne Untertitel [Without Subtitles] (Wien, 1996) and Elektrische Schatten [Electric Shadows] (Wien, 1999). Both discuss films within their historical and cultural contexts. Ohne Untertitel includes an exchange of views among Austrian and foreign authors about Austrian films, the internationalism of Austrian film outside of Austria, and the narrow bias of Viennese local color in Austrian films up to the 1960s. Elektrische Schatten sticks with the history of film in the 1920s and considers the relationship of Germany and Italy to Austrian film. Armin Loacker illuminates the “Golden Age” of Austrian (Viennese) film in Anschluß im 3/4-Takt [Takeover in Waltz Time] (Trier, 1999), a book based on his master’s thesis. He emphasizes the political influences upon and economic history of Austrian film from the end of the silent film period to the absorption of Austrian filmmaking into the film economy and censorship rules of the Th ird Reich

The departure from chronological narration in the above volumes can be explained in part by the dominance of this type of history in the books of Walter Fritz. Since writing his dissertation on the development of Austrian film (1966), Fritz has published a number of historical overviews. Kino in Österreich [Cinema in Austria] (Wien, 1981–1991) tells the history of Austrian film in a popular manner, with a chronology of film productions and very short accounts of individual films. Footnotes, bibliographies, and indexes of names and film titles give access to the volumes. Although there are many illustrations, the listing of names and dates is tiring. In contrast, Im Kino erlebe ich die Welt [At the Movies I Experience the World] (Wien, 1997), a volume celebrating the 100th anniversary of film in Austria, is characterized by its opulent format and excellent illustrations and an emphasis on entertaining details of production. Footnotes, a bibliography, a list of directors and their films going back to 1906, and an index of names close the volume.

The special features of the history of film in Austria offer motivation for ongoing work in this field. Library users can expect to see the publication of both thematic longitudinal studies and overview presentations of this fascinating topic. [wub/gh]

Teatro e dintorni: guida alle arti sceniche 2001 [Theater and Surroundings: A Guide to the Scenic Arts]. Roma: Editoria & Spettacolo, 2002. 643 p. 21 cm. ISBN 8-890-05620-7: EUR 23.24

An RREO Original Review

Teatro e dintorni: guida alle arti sceniche is a trade directory of Italian theaters, theatrical associations, services, and talent agencies. Divided into three parts, the main section of this resource focuses on theaters, drama schools, and production houses in every region of Italy. The other sections provide information on various types of theater service establishments and organizations. The guide also has indexes that help locate information in the hundreds of entries.

Th e first section has the most entries and focuses mainly on theater buildings and production companies. Arranged alphabetically by region, this component of the guide offers extensive information on the theater situation for every Italian region.

Each regional section begins with general background on the region, including web addresses of tourist offices and basic information on artistic, cultural, and sports associations. The resource also includes information centers, networks such as theatrical associations and cooperatives, production companies, schools, and festivals found within a particular region.

When featuring actual theater buildings, the guide further divides a regional category into more detailed sections by first listing main regional cities [province] such as Roma and Milano and their surrounding municipalities [comune] in alphabetical order by city name. Smaller cities found within a region and their neighboring environs are also represented in this guide. Within a particular city listing, users will find information about all theaters that have submitted entries for inclusion in this work. Theaters are listed in alphabetical order by name.

Entries are self-submitted and may differ in the amount of detail they contain; some have very detailed and technical information. All entries include contact information such as mailing and web addresses (where available), e-mail, and telephone information. Most theater building entries provide information on the kind of programming they offer, total number of seats, the theater décor including stage and ceiling measurements, and backstage information, including the number of dressing rooms and types of scenery equipment available.

The second section serves as a directory of various theater services. It is divided into separate service categories including promotional/advertising agencies, research centers, costume/makeup artists, lighting, sound, theater periodicals, scenery, photographic studios, and printing offices. Under each service category, companies are listed in alphabetical order by name.

The guide’s final section provides addresses for a variety of organizations, including the Italian senate, the Italian cultural ministry, syndicates, unions, and publishing agents. All entries provide contact information.

The guide has five indexes that allow users to find information by association name, theater location, production company, drama schools, and festivals. This resource would be further strengthened if the theater location index listed towns in alphabetical order, rather than listing the region and then all cities found there. Even native Italians might have difficulties finding smaller communities using this guide, if they are not familiar with particular regions. However, this title does have an accompanying website at http://www.teatroedintorni.it that allows users to search for particular theaters or towns by simply selecting names from a drop-down menu. Although the web entries are not always as detailed as the print resource, the website may serve users who need basic information.

The language of the theater entries is sometimes quite technical and might be challenging to non-native speakers. The large amount of advertising interspersed randomly between entries and sections may irritate or distract some users. Overall, the guide is well-organized and not difficult to use. It becomes more challenging to navigate if a user tries to find theater information for smaller towns or villages without knowing in what regions they are located. Although an excellent directory to Italian theaters, this guide may be a bit esoteric for most libraries outside of Italy. It may serve larger research libraries that support strong theater arts programs.

Diccionario del teatro iberoamericano [Dictionary of Iberian-American Th eater]. Ricardo de la Fuente and Julia Amezúa. Salamanca: Ediciones Almar, 2002. 444 p. 24 cm. ISBN 84-7455-063-7: EUR 24.45

An RREO Original Review

When one searches for dictionaries covering Spanish, Portuguese, or Latin American theater, one discovers that few have been published very recently. The DTI, therefore, arrives as a welcome addition to the field (the “iberoamericano” in the title includes peninsular as well as Latin American manifestations). This enthusiasm, however, wanes when one examines De la Fuente and Amezúa’s contribution closely.

The DTI is a problematic work, beginning with its geographic coverage. The title leads one to believe that DTI will adequately cover Latin America. This is not the case: the entries are primarily peninsular, and important Latin American playwrights are omitted. The brief preface of the book states that the publication is designed “to be a useful tool for accessing the history and authors of Iberian-American theater while guiding one through dramatic concepts” (my translation). It also states that the entries pertain to contemporary theater (“teatro actual”) in Latin America as well as Spain. But several prominent Latin American playwrights (for example, Argentine Malena Sandor and Brazilians Artur Azevedo and Joaquim Machado de Assis) are missing from DTI. Yet, Aristotle has an entry, and he is neither Spanish nor Portuguese nor Latin American nor contemporary. As for Spanish playwrights, DTI omits over 30 post-Franco playwrights who are treated in the six-page section “El teatro español: posterior a 1975” in Ricardo Gullón’s Diccionario de literature española e hispanoamericana (Madrid, 1993).

The alphabetical entries vary in length according to the relative importance of the person or concept. Each entry is followed by the initials of its contributor, and the reader can find the full names of the contributors in the forematter. There is no biographical information about them.

While many key figures are absent, the entries that do exist are useful. They are fairly descriptive, but could be better formatted. For instance, the entry for Cuban Virgilio Piñera mentions his works in the narrative, instead of offering them in a more convenient list at the end. The entries also contain a minimal bibliography of suggested further readings. See-also references are indicated by asterisks. For example, Piñera is known for his work with the theater of the absurd, and the term “absurdo” has an asterisk so the reader knows to look for the separate entry on “absurdo.”

The strength of DTI lies in its definitions of theatrical terms. “Actor” may not need as detailed a definition as provided, but “auto sacramental” probably does. The encyclopedic entries explaining the different types of theater (“Vanguardia,” “Absurdo,” “Épico”) are well-written and informative.

In the preface, the authors note that they had to keep bibliographies brief in order to make the end result more manageable. DTI would be a better tool if the authors had refined their scope and then covered that more narrow area well, instead of attempting to cover a large field and doing so with questionable results.

Shortly after the publication of DTI, Greenwood Press published its Encyclopedia of Latin American Th eater. While ELAT cannot serve as a dictionary for Peninsular theater or theatrical terms, it outshines the DTI in every other regard. With a clearly defined scope, ELAT systematically covers Latin American theater, its history, its playwrights, and cultural movements. ELAT does not cover Spain, but it includes Nuyorican and Chicano theater productions. The individually authored chapters, each dedicated to a country, begin with an introductory essay placing the country’s theater in a socio-historic context, and ends with a substantial suggested readings list. The playwright entries include biographical data as well as bibliographic information and healthy further readings lists. The individual play entries include the date and place of the first stage performance, as well as further readings lists. There is an index of people, theater companies, and theatrical schools, but no play index. Academic biographies of the contributors are provided.

ELAT is valuable primarily because its editors maintained their focus (Latin American theater) and were able to offer depth in their coverage. DTI disappoints because its editors failed in this regard: De la Fuente and Amezúa attempted to cover too much ground. A simple glossary of theatrical terms or perhaps a dictionary of Spanish theater would have been better goals. They do not, however, succeed in creating a useful Diccionario de teatro iberoamericano.

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Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
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