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This chapter examines Bandmann’s efforts to buy, build or improve theatres along his circuit. These endeavours were motivated not only by practical and pecuniary considerations but also functioned as a means to form deeper relationships with the localities where he operated. This chapter explores both his theatre-building and his forays into cinema, including activities distributing British war propaganda films during the First World War. The chapter includes detailed discussions of The Empire (Calcutta), the Royal Opera House (Bombay) and his last building initiative, the New Empire in Gibraltar. The second section provides a detailed discussion of Bandmann’s competition with J. F. Madam to obtain exclusive distribution rights of the British propaganda films.
This chapter examines how the law, and especially litigation, played an important but paradoxical role in both holding the Bandmann Circuit together and also threatening to destabilize it as disputes erupted with almost predictable regularity. Enacted in the public ‘theatre’ of courts and trials, these disagreements impacted not only on labour relations, but also on the ‘intimate relations’ of marriage and reproduction; they affected artistic production and were influenced by cultural differences and media reporting. Maurice E. Bandmann’s many and often highly publicized court cases generated a secondary stage, where his artists had additional appearances. In ANT terms, the stage and the courts thus became linked, acting on one another in a mutually reinforcing activity that ultimately strengthened the network. The legal disputes centred on two main kinds of breaches: copyright and of labour contracts. Both elements constituted crucial assets in the Bandmann Circuit. Copyright protected the network’s intellectual property, whereas contracts regulated the deployment of human capital.
The Introduction outlines the geographical scope of Maurice E. Bandmann’s theatrical circuit and the theoretical and methodological approach of the book. The first section provides a detailed discussion of two approaches to network theory: historical network analysis and actor-network theory (ANT), which is associated with Bruno Latour. A second section discusses the term ‘first age of globalization’, meaning here the period of 1870 to 1914 and how it is relevant to theatre history, in particular the study of itinerant theatre.
falls into two parts. The first section discusses the main elements of the touring repertoire. This consisted initially of popular melodramas such as The Manxman, Trilby and The Sign of the Cross. The Bandmann Opera Company, his most important company, provided facsimile versions of Edwardian musical comedies, most of which were drawn from the George Edwardes’ Gaiety Theatre, with whom Bandmann had an exclusive agreement. Another mainstay of his repertoire was variety theatre, which became increasingly important after 1914. Each genre was represented by its own company, each of which toured on an integrated rotation system. The second section discusses the heterogeneous publics on the Bandmann Circuit as a colonial public sphere. Bandmann’s publics included non-English-speaking audiences in Japan, parts of China and the Dutch East Indies, among other areas.
Over the twenty-five years of his activities, Bandmann transported approximately 2,000 performers around the world on his circuit. This chapter examines what it meant to be a performer on the Bandmann Circuit. In addition to the material questions such as working conditions, pay and social interaction (love and marriage), it also looks at the function of the performers and other employees (advance and venue managers, musical directors) as parts of the theatrical network. In this chapter, the main approach is actor-network theory. The analysis examined how the travelling actor ‘connected’ with the different cultures and countries. These connections took many forms, the most important being economical (labour and income), physical (mainly health) and affective (marriage).
Bandmann’s engagement with the many localities on his circuit required a degree of political activity at a level which is termed here micropolitical. This term refers to personal connections and networks and how they function in a political context. For Bandmann, who attempted to build or manage theatres on his circuit, this meant forging political and business partnerships that demonstrate a much deeper engagement with locality than is normal for itinerant theatre. The micropolitics of locality are discussed in relation to the most important cities on his circuit, which were mostly entrepôts, port cities designed to facilitate colonial trade. The chapter provides detailed discussion of Bandmann’s activities in Malta, Cairo, Bombay, Calcutta, Shanghai, Hong Kong and the Dutch East Indies, as well as in connection with the Victoria Theatre in Singapore and Parsi theatre.
discusses how Bandmann organized and managed his enterprises, which grew in scale from traditional actor management to small joint-stock companies, followed by various partnerships until he finally established limited companies traded on the Indian stock market. He also formed partnerships with the burgeoning variety business. The chapter also discusses the decline of his theatrical business model after World War I due to increased costs and the emergence of cinema. The final section provides an analysis of the economics of touring.
This chapter situates Bandmann’s career within the context of his parents’ and sister’s careers, as they were family-centred actor-managers in the traditional sense. It argues that in terms of network theory, the actor-family was characterized by homophily, strong ties that prevented innovation or expansion. Maurice Bandmann’s theatrical network, on the other hand, was heterophilic – i.e. marked by multiple ‘weak’ ties that enabled rapid expansion and flexibility. The shift from a homophilic to a heterophilic network provided the basis for the growth of his global theatre circuit.
The final chapter discusses Bandmann’s legacy and his rapid disappearance from the theatre-historical record. It argues that Bandmann’s reliance on heterophilic networks had a detrimental effect on his long-term legacy and place in theatre-historical memory. The only existing testimony to his cultural memory is the Royal Opera House in Mumbai, which because of its recent renovation has led to a resurgence of interest in the building and by association with Bandmann in India. The chapter also explores how former Bandmann employees maintained parts of his network after his premature death in 1922 and were instrumental in supporting the careers of Indian dancers such as Uday Shankar and Menaka. The final section discusses the research methods and journeys that lie beyond a ten-year research project, emphasizing the importance of digitized resources such as historical newspapers.
Between 1895 and 1922 the Anglo-American actor and manager, Maurice E. Bandmann (1872–1922) created a theatrical circuit that extended from Gibraltar to Tokyo and included regular tours to the West Indies and South America. With headquarters in Calcutta and Cairo and companies listed on the Indian stock exchange, his operations represent a significant shift towards the globalization of theatre. This study focuses on seven key areas: family networks; the business of theatrical touring; the politics of locality; repertoire and publics; an ethnography of itinerant acting; legal disputes and the provision of theatrical infrastructure. It draws on global and transnational history, network theory and analysis as well as in-depth archival research to provide a new approach to studying theatre in the age of empire.