Record player Mono GID (Guilde Internationale du disque), 1960.  Photo by kind permission of Patrice Schöser, who restored the device (blog “TSF-Schoser”).

Record player Mono GID (Guilde Internationale du disque), 1960.  Photo by kind permission of Patrice Schöser, who restored the device (blog “TSF-Schoser”).

Project (2018-)

Theatrical Spoken-Word Records in Germany and France, 1950–1970: Repertoire, Production, Distribution, Use

No history of sound recording technologies will be complete without attending to the history of theater. Phonographic companies began to produce recordings of theatrical excerpts very soon after the phonograph was invented; the advent of the shellac disc enabled them to record longer passages and the first complete dramatic works. In the golden age of the vinyl long-playing record, from 1950 to 1970, a great variety of sound documents came into being: extracts or full recordings of theatrical performances, made sometimes in the theater itself—with or without an audience—and sometimes in a recording studio. These theatrical or dramatic spoken-word recordings (disques de théâtre) opened up a particular, relatively short-lived, yet significant way of experiencing the theatrical event, but have hitherto attracted little notice from historians. Since 2008, I have been working on the discography of theatrical records in France from the postwar period to the 1970s. Building on that research, my project now undertakes a comparative study of the technological, social, and aesthetic history of drama records in Germany. It aims to offer new perspectives on the relationship between theater, theater studies, and media technologies in the course of the twentieth century.