Olivia Schaaf (QMUL) - 2020-21 Students

Inside the Outsider: German Independent Music Theatre at the Neuköllner Oper Berlin

This project tracks how the aesthetics, economics and audiences of musical performance in Germany have changed since the nation’s reunification in the 1990s, using the Neuköllner Oper Berlin (NKO) as a case study. Important academic research into the transformation of the performing arts in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall (Cornish 2017; Scheer 2018) has tended to focus on dramatic and postdramatic theatre, leaving forms of musical performance like opera and the musical overlooked. Moreover, despite academic and popular interest in the potential of the performing arts in Germany to engage with marginalised and immigrant communities (Stewart 2017; Sharifi 2018), small venues oriented to musical performance have been largely excluded from study. This project fills these gaps in research by focusing on an established venue with a long but largely overlooked history of social and community engagement.
This project will explore three research questions using NKO as a central case study:
How has public support and private investment in the development and production of musical performance changed in Germany since reunification?
How have audiences for musical performance transformed over the last thirty years?
How have German institutions dedicated to musical performance shifted both their programming and outreach activities to engage with local communities and respond to demographic shifts?

Primary supervisor: Michael Shane Boyle, QMUL
Secondary supervisor: Nicholas Ridout, QMUL

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