Annegret Reitzle | The Playbooks of the Toy Theatre
An contribution to the reception of popular stage plays and juvenile literature. Abstract

Between 1840 and the twenties of our century 13 publishers (of 23 altogether) edited 415 playbooks in German language for the Toy Theatre. In this work they are introduced for the first time. 272 playbooks could still be obtained for this work. Except for a few playbooks they are adaptations of stage plays (263) and of juvenile literature (119).

The central question of this work directs towards the "how" of the adaptations. The playbooks contain 24 pages (octavo) on a average. For the analysis of the playbooks a parameter was made, which measures the adaptation with its model according to the formally-linguistic, linguistically-stylistic criteria and as regards content. For the way of adaptation following categories could have been works out: concentration, reduction, selection (with and without changes of characters and plot),free shaping of the model.

The single results have tabularly been summarized and taken a general judging. A summary evaluation is only with reservation possible, as only a few publishers were at the disposal with complete or extensive material.

Although all playbooks contain the note "Adapted for Toy Theatre", only 12 % of the stage plays at five publishers have really been revised for children.

A comparison between contemporary practice on stage at the "Berliner Hofbühne" and the repertoire of the playbooks of the Toy Theatre shows particularly for "Berliner Hofbühne" orientated publishers and especially in the first decades, that it reflects the tendencies - dominance of entertainment plays, priority to the music theatre over the drama - and marks the success of opera and drama.

Despite the changing of the repertoire in the course of the decades by the in corporation of children's literary subjects, playbooks that don't suit children were in the majority.