“Dada Vaudeville”: Reconstructing Stages and Spectatorship in Berlin Dada's Performance, 1919-1920

  • 5pm - 5.45pm

  • Online

Due to copyright restrictions these are internal Edinburgh University talks. Sign-up links will be circulated in due course. If you are a student or member of staff in a part of the University other than Edinburgh College of Art, you can sign up to attend the talks by emailing Paulina Caro Troncoso at paulina.carotroncoso@ed.ac.uk

Lucy Byford (University of Edinburgh)

The term ‘Dada performance’ evokes the recital of bruitist, simultaneous or sound poetry, punctuated by the grotesque movement of masked dancers. The shows staged by the Dadaists in Berlin, however, were not modelled exclusively on forms developed for the soirées in Zurich. This presentation will address the Berlin Dadaists’ debt to German literary and avant-garde cabaret, demonstrating how the group were the inheritors of fin-de-siècle discussions around the “Überbrettl”, vaudeville and carnival. Paying particular attention to the role of spectatorship, the talk will reconstruct the ‘performance frames’ of the following Dadaist appearances on stage: the matinee at the Tribune Theatre in November, 1919; Walter Mehring’s Simply Classical! marionette play at Max Reinhardt’s ‘Sound and Smoke’ cabaret in December, 1919; and their performance at the Urania Theatre in Prague during the ‘Dada tour’ in March, 1920.


Lucy Byford is in her third year of an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Edinburgh which looks at Berlin Dada and its earlier satirical and avant-garde precedents in Germany. Last year she published on John Heartfield’s late set design in the MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities journal, and completed a DAAD-funded research fellowship at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich. Her forthcoming chapter in the volume Imagining the Apocalypse, edited by Dr. Edwin Coomasaru, focuses on eschatological allusions in Berlin Dada’s interventions.