David Savran

David Savran

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2012/13, 2014/15

David Savran is a specialist in twentieth and twenty-first century U.S. theatre, transnational music theatre, popular culture and social theory.  He is the author of eight books, including the first monograph on the Wooster Group, Breaking the Rules (1986), and, most recently, Highbrow/Lowdown: Theater, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class, the winner of the Joe A. Callaway Prize and the Kurt Weill Prize. He has served as a judge for the Obie Awards and the Lucille Lortel Awards and was a juror for the 2011 and 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. He delivered the Messenger Lectures at Cornell University in 2012 on Branding as Cultural Performance and is the former editor of the Journal of American Drama and Theatre. He is Distinguished Professor of Theatre and holds the Vera Mowry Roberts Chair in American Theatre at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Research Project

Trafficking in Transnational Brands: The New “Broadway-Style” Musical

The theatre world is increasingly dominated by multinational corporations that produce hit shows such as The Lion King in dozens of languages around the world. At the same time, brand-name theatre troupes make the rounds of international festivals with multilingual productions bankrolled by state-supported theatres. Given this rapid worldwide circulation, the national identity of theatre works is becoming increasingly difficult to decide. 

This identity crisis is especially pronounced in the case of the one form of theatre that for generations has been associated with a single New York thoroughfare. For people around the world, the Broadway musical epitomizes singing and dancing, glamor and dazzle. It is also commonly perceived as the most distinctively American theatre form, which may have circumnavigated the globe countless times, but whose national and municipal identity remains embedded in its name. In the twenty-first century, however, when “Broadway-style” musicals are being manufactured from Hamburg to Hangzhou, this jet-setting form is becoming increasingly stateless. It is no longer a specifically U.S. form, but a global brand that freely crosses borders, genres and styles, and that charms audiences everywhere. This book argues that the new Broadway-style musical has truly become the first world theatre.

This book studies the worldwide dissemination of the Broadway brand by analyzing the traffic in musicals between the United States and the two countries, Germany and South Korea, which, in Europe and East Asia, respectively, are the leaders in the production of musicals.

Recommended Publications

  • Plassard, D. (ed.). Mises en Scène d’Allemagne(s).  Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2013.
  • Jacques, M. When China Rules the World. London: Penguin, 2012.
  • Flew, T. Understanding Global Media. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007.
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung