Stages of mortality
Author: Adrian Curtin

This book provides an ambitious overview of how topics related to death and dying are explored in modern Western theatre, covering a time-span of over a hundred years and engaging multiple cultural contexts. In a series of micronarratives beginning in the late nineteenth century, this book considers how and why death and dying are represented at certain historical moments using dramaturgy and aesthetics that challenge audiences’ conceptions, sensibilities and sense-making faculties. Chapters focus on the ambiguous evocation of death in symbolist theatre; fantastical representations of death in plays about the First World War; satires of death denial in absurdist drama; ‘theatres of catastrophe’ after Auschwitz and Hiroshima; and drama about dying in the early twenty-first century. The book includes a mix of well-known and lesser-known plays and performance pieces from an international range of dramatists and theatre-makers. It offers original interpretations through close reading and performance analysis, informed by scholarship from diverse fields, including history, sociology and philosophy.It investigates the opportunities theatre affords to reflect on the end of life in a compelling and socially meaningful fashion. Written in a lively, accessible style, this book will be of interest to scholars of modern Western theatre and those interested in death studies.

This edited collection is the first to engage directly with Foucault’s thought on theatre and with the theatricality of his thought. Michel Foucault was not only one of the most controversial and provocative thinkers of the twentieth century, he was also one of its most inventive and penetrating researchers. Notoriously hard to pin down, his work evades easy categorisation – philosopher, historian of ‘systems of thought’, ‘radical journalist’ ‒ Foucault was all of these things, and so much more. In what some see as a post-critical landscape, the book forcefully argues for the urgency and currency of Foucauldian critique, a method that lends itself to theatrical ways of thinking: how do we understand the scenes and dramaturgies of knowledge and truth? How can theatre help understand the critical shifts that characterised Foucault’s preoccupation with the gaze and the scenographies of power? Above all, what makes Foucault’s work compelling comes down to the question he repeatedly asked: ‘What are we at the present time?’ The book offers a range of provocative essays that think about this question in two ways: first, in terms of Foucault’s self-fashioning – the way he plays the role of public intellectual through journalism and his many public interviews, the dramaturgy of his thinking, and the appeal to theatrical tropes in his work; and, second, to think about theatre and performance scholarship through Foucault’s critical approaches to truth, power, knowledge, history, governmentality, economy, and space, among others, as these continue to shape contemporary political, ethical, and aesthetic concerns.

This volume considers transnational and intercultural aspects of early modern theatre, drama and performance. Its twelve chapters, loosely cosmographically grouped into West, North and South, compose a complex image of early modern theatre connections as a socially, economically, politically and culturally realised tissue of links, networks, influences and paths of exchange. With particular attention to itinerant performers, court festival, and the significant black, Muslim and Jewish impact, they combine disciplines and methods to place Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the wider context of early performance culture in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Czech and Italian speaking Europe. Their shared methodological approach examines transnational connections by linking abstract notions of wider theatre historical significance to concrete historical facts: archaeological findings, archival records, visual artefacts, and textual evidence. Crucial to the volume is this systematic yoking of theories with surviving historical evidence for the performative event – whether as material object, text, performative routine, theatregrams, rituals, festivities, genres, archival evidence or visual documentation. This approach enables it to explore the infinite variety of early modern performance culture by expanding the discourse, questioning the received canon, and rethinking the national restrictions of conventional maps to reveal a theatre that truly is without borders.

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Great Britain on the London stages under James VI and I

This book looks at the interrelationship between nationalism and theatre in the Jacobean period. It also looks at the creation of a British identity brought about by the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the English throne in 1603. The most significant political legacy of James's national project was the creation of an emphatically British identity among the settlers from both England and Scotland who planted Ulster. A series of plays in London's theatres was staging the lives of a group of earlier British rulers. The theatre of the Jacobean period does not rest on Shakespeare alone. What emerges in the study of the London stages in this period is that his work fits into a wider framework of dramatic material discoursing on not just the Union, but on issues of war, religion and overseas exploration. Under James VI and I, the discourse on empire changed to meet the new expansion overseas, and also the practicality of a Scottish king whose person fulfilled the criteria of King of 'Great Britain' in a way that Elizabeth never could. For James VI and I, Shakespeare's play was a celebration of the British imperium that seemed secure in the figures of Henry, Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and the Princess Elizabeth. The repertoire of the theatre companies suggests that in terms of public opinion there was a great deal of consensus regarding the direction of foreign policy.

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Popular illegalism on the nineteenth-century stage
Tony Fisher

constitute itself in the general form of a ‘theatre of poverty’. It is hardly a surprise, then, to discover that the nineteenth-century stage also gave expression to the public’s growing consciousness of poverty and its disturbing effects. What it produced on that stage might be described as a kind of sub-genre of the melodrama. Often social reformist in outlook, frequently

in Foucault’s theatres
Mark Jordan

Foucault often writes at the edge of some stage. He calls up stagecraft to describe violent displays of royal power or the oldest rituals of Christian temptation and repentance. Theatres help him to explicate what he means by ‘heterotopia’ or suggest other coinages to him (‘Ubu-power’, ‘alethurgy’). Struck by what seems to him obvious, he can

in Foucault’s theatres
Essays on his plays, poetry and production work

Since 1969, Howard Barker has written over a hundred dramatic works, six published volumes of poetry, two books of philosophical and aesthetic theory and a third-person autobiography/reflection on practice. This book provides international perspectives on the full range of Barker's achievements, theatrical and otherwise, and argues for their unique importance and urgency at the forefront of several genres of provocative modern art. Barker distinguishes his objectives from those of the conventional theatre by terming what he pursues the Art of Theatre: a felicitous term for an artist holistically engaged with so many facets of theatre artistry. The book identifies the technical challenges and performative pleasures and tactics of both the Barker character and the Barker actor, and provides an account of report and repetition in Barker's company, The Wrestling School. Barker's work between 1977 and 1986 offers remarkable presages: both of the play of national and global power, and of Barker's distinctive artistry. The book focuses specifically on Barker's theatrical orchestration of nakedness, and examines the underlying ideologies of systems of surveillance and punishment which would literally claim, frame, and thus contain the transgressive individual (body). It provides a series of readings of specific Barker plays such as I Saw Myself, Scenes from an Execution, Gertrude - The Cry, and The Bite of the Night. The book opens up a full examination of Barker's 'triple excavation', his mutually informative work in paintings, poems and plays.

Working memories
Author: David Calder

Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space explores how street theatre transforms industrial space into postindustrial space. Deindustrializing communities have increasingly turned to cultural projects to commemorate industrial heritage while simultaneously generating surplus value and jobs in a changing economy. Through analysis of French street theatre companies working out of converted industrial sites, this book reveals how theatre and performance more generally participate in and make historical sense of ongoing urban and economic change. The book argues, firstly, that deindustrialization and redevelopment rely on the spatial and temporal logics of theatre and performance. Redevelopment requires theatrical events and performative acts that revise, resituate, and re-embody particular pasts. The book proposes working memory as a central metaphor for these processes. The book argues, secondly, that in contemporary France street theatre has emerged as working memory's privileged artistic form. If the transition from industrial to postindustrial space relies on theatrical logics, those logics will manifest differently depending on geographic context. The book links the proliferation of street theatre in France since the 1970s to the crisis in Fordist-Taylorist modernity. How have street theatre companies converted spaces of manufacturing into spaces of theatrical production? How do these companies (with municipal governments and developers) connect their work to the work that occurred in these spaces in the past? How do those connections manifest in theatrical events, and how do such events give shape and meaning to redevelopment? Street theatre’s function is both economic and historiographic. It makes the past intelligible as past and useful to the present.

Adrian Curtin

4 Theatres of catastrophe after Auschwitz and Hiroshima The two place names featured in this chapter’s title call to mind atrocities of the Second World War, specifically the Holocaust and the dropping of the atomic bomb in Japan – catastrophic events that are distinguished even within the twentieth century’s catalogue of horrors involving mass death.1 The genocide of up to six million European and Soviet Jews, along with the murder of other groups (e.g., Sinti and Roma, people with disabilities, gay people, and political prisoners), by the Nazis between 1939

in Death in modern theatre
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Street and theatre at the end of Fordism
David Calder

1 Theatre in ruins: street and theatre at the end of Fordism 1973 was an inauspicious year for France’s economy and a surprisingly sunny one for its street performers. After the spring crash in the global property market but before the autumn oil embargo, Jean Digne, director of the Théâtre du Centre in Aix-en-Provence, and Charles Nugue, director of the city’s cultural centre, organized a festival: Aix, ville ouverte aux saltimbanques (Aix, city open to street performers). The event brought tumblers, jugglers, fire-spinners, magicians, and busking musicians

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space