|Institution:||California State University- Northridge|
|Keywords:||World War 1, Prison theatre, Theatre, Ruhleben, British prisoners of war,|
|Full text PDF:||http://scholarworks.csun.edu/handle/10211.3/140411|
Theatre in Isolation: The Enduring Traditions of Theatre and Its Role in Lifting the Spirits of Detainees in a Civilian Prison Camp in Germany During World War 1 By Julie Jenkins Masters of Art in Theatre This graduate project examines how war affects theatrical development in an enclosed society by comparing it against theatrical development in an open society during World War One. To accomplish this goal I chose to examine a civilian prison camp in Germany where the detainees were mainly comprised of British civilians caught in Germany at the onset of war. The detainees at the camp comprised of non-German nationals that fell into one of several categories: student, vacationer, businessman, or transplant. My introductory chapter provides a brief overview of conditions at the camp to illuminate the difficulties detainees faced while exerting enormous amounts of effort and time preparing, rehearsing and presenting productions. Chapter 2 provides a brief introduction to what led to the First World War and the decision to imprison non-German nationals. I also examine the initial formation of the camp and its use prior to becoming a civilian prison. Chapter 3 establishes current trends in theatre in Great Britain and compares their further development against development of theatre in the camp by using camp magazines; Camp Ruhleben and In Ruhleben Camp, to piece together a chronological order of productions, gain insight to detainee reactions to production by analyzing play critiques and production articles, along with original playbills, posters, and photographs. Chapters 4 and 5 delves further into human resources and production resources. For insider information, I used camp detainee Joseph Powell’s book The History of Ruhleben: a record of British organization in a prison camp in Germany, along with Ruhleben camp magazines, to gain information on rehearsal practices, creation of roles, and use of materials for characters and sets. For progress outside the camp, I used L. J. Collin’s Theatre at War, 1914-1918 to monitor wartime rationing and the recruitment of theatre personnel and how theatre managers dealt with having to replace their actors and crews with non-professionals. The conclusion explains up until the release of Camp detainees, the German guards still respected their rights and did not confiscate supplies even though the Germans were facing starvation. I then conclude that material chosen in the camp not only reflected conditions faced by the prisoners, but also their need to escape from the dreariness of their incarceration. Whereas material chosen outside of the camp during the war reflected the desire for patriotic unification by the British governments and the need to drum up recruits. And at the conclusion of war, to distract the soldiers until they could return to England.