Year 1 of the project 2013-14
In October 2013, the team began a 3-year project on French theatre of the Napoleonic era. The project is genuinely interdisciplinary, bringing together colleagues and methodological approaches from French Studies, Musicology and Theatre Studies. The main focus of this first year was a joint conference with the Music department at King's College London on melodrama (March 2014) which looked at the development of melodrama as a genre in the early 19th century and established by comparison between British, German and French theatre, the essential elements of each national tradition. A key part of the findings was derived from a performance-based research workshop bringing together actors, musicians, directors and academics to explore the role of music in the French melodrama La Forteresse du Danube (1805) and its translation into English (the Fortress, 1807). The music for the two versions produced very different effects. A video outlining our findings premiered at the world congress of the International Federation for Theatre Research in July 2014.
The team ran a panel at this IFTR congress to show how close textual readings of French plays of the period can be linked to larger cultural, social and political issues through contextualisation with particular focus on questions of genre, the role of the press and exchanges (of texts, ideas, and individuals) between France, Britain and the German-speaking world.
Year 2 (2014-15)
The focus of this year's work has been the interrelationship of theatre and politics, particularly during the 100 days of 1815, and the use of theatre by prisoners of war. We have also been exploring genre boundaries and notions of rewriting. This year's performance-led workshop was on vaudeville, one of the most widespread theatrical form of the period, and one which allowed us to explore further the relationship between text and music.