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Symptoms of contemporary performance
Author: Patrick Duggan

It is interesting that while A. D. Nuttall's investigations in Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? focus mainly on ancient and Elizabethan tragedies, he decides to answer the question of his title in the mid-1990s. While trauma has long been the subject of scholarly attention in many other fields, very little has been written on the subject in the context of theatre and performance. Trauma, like performance, is a complex and polysemic phenomenon. Raymond Williams' writings, particularly Modern Tragedy (1966), and his idea of 'structure of feeling' have proved both profitable and influential in the development of the research presented in this book. The book critically traces a particular, 'performative' genealogy of trauma theory through Jean-Martin Charcot and Freud to Cathy Caruth and other contemporary theorists. It addresses the theatrics of Charcot's practice as a means both of articulating the performative lineage of trauma theory and to suggest that trauma symptoms are themselves performative in nature. The book also argues that Williams' notion of 'structure of feeling' can be used to identify a contemporary, societal 'psychic' trauma (in the West) which pervades daily existence. The possibility that live performance can put the spectator into an experience of trauma's central paradox is explored. The book discusses what it means to witness and to be witnessed in the context of trauma in performance. Audience experience, the events of Abu Ghraib, and specific instances of theatrical trauma are discussed. Finally, the book considers questions of ethics in relation to performance which addresses trauma.

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A structure of feeling
Patrick Duggan

2 Trauma-tragedy: a structure of feeling In 1971, Chris Burden stood five metres away from a friend who shot him with a .22 calibre rifle. The bullet was only supposed to graze his arm but Burden flinched slightly as the gun was fired, moving his arm fully into the path of the oncoming bullet. It pierced his skin, tore through his bicep and exited through the flesh on the back of his arm. Shoot has become one of Burden’s best known works and he said of the piece that ‘it seems that bad art is theatre […] Getting shot is for real […] there’s no element of

in Trauma-tragedy
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The Revenger’s Tragedy
Gabriel A. Rieger

Satiric tragedy is a subgenre which casts a long shadow over the early modern stage, but setting its parameters is problematic. The most prominent dramatists of the early seventeenth century produced satirically inflected tragic or tragicomic drama, including Shakespeare ( Hamlet ), Jonson ( Sejanus ), Marston ( The Malcontent ), Webster ( The Duchess of Malfi ), and Beaumont and Fletcher ( The Maid’s Tragedy ), and this list is merely a representative sample. Even those tragedies not typically classified as ‘satiric tragedies’ often contain

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
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Henry Chettle’s The Tragedy of Hoffman
Derek Dunne

On 25 September 2010, a production of Henry Chettle's The Tragedy of Hoffman was staged in Magdalen College, Oxford, as part of a one-day conference on the play. 1 Instead of giving the text its early modern subtitle of A Revenge for a Father , the cover of the conference programme read Hoffman, or Hamlet without the Prince . This invented subtitle points towards just how difficult it can be to discuss early modern revenge tragedies without recourse to Hamlet – in asserting its difference from Shakespeare's play, the programme

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
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Yarington(?)’s Two Lamentable Tragedies
Lisa Hopkins and Gemma Leggott

Domestic tragedy, on the face of it the simplest and most unpretentious of tragic forms, is in fact potentially one of the most ambiguous, for almost every aspect of domestic tragedies is typically susceptible of being read on more than one level. Domestic tragedy, by definition, is set at home, both in the sense of taking place in England rather than being set abroad, as so many other tragedies are, and also in the sense that it is located in one or more private houses rather than in the more public space of the court. At the same time as

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
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The case of Jonson’s Sejanus
John E. Curran, Jr

In a sense, a ‘Roman’ tragedy in the English Renaissance merely meant one employing a plot from classical Roman history, and harnessing its capacity to amplify standard tragic modes. Well-known stories of the Romans, impressed on learned people from the core of their humanistic education, were conducive to depicting almost any sort of catastrophe. The de casibus tragedy inherited from medieval tradition, with proud worldlings undone by fickle Fortune, and its two major derivations, tyrant tragedy and court-intrigue tragedy, obviously made

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
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Fulke Greville’s Mustapha
Daniel Cadman

One of the most significant classical authorities to influence the development of early modern English tragedy was the Roman dramatist, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Colin Burrow notes that ‘Seneca was the high-status model for drama in the formative years of the English professional stage’ and that such popular and influential early tragedians as Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd and George Peele ‘not only read but showed their audiences they had read Senecan tragedy’. 1 According to T. S. Eliot, ‘no Latin author was more highly esteemed’ or

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
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James Shirley’s The Traitor
Jessica Dyson

Most of the extant drama from the Caroline professional stage is not tragic in genre. Of the major Caroline professional playwrights – Ben Jonson, Richard Brome, John Ford, Philip Massinger and James Shirley – the surviving plays are predominantly comedy and tragicomedy. Nevertheless, Massinger, Shirley and John Ford did write some tragedy for the Caroline stage amid comic and tragicomic writing, presenting tragedies of power in Massinger's The Roman Actor (1626) and Believe as You List (1631), domestic tragedy in Ford's ’Tis Pity She

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
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George Peele’s David and Bethsabe
Annaliese Connolly

), 18 ‘Joshua’ (1602) 19 and ‘The Tragedy of Absalon’ (1602). 20 By this time, however, the purpose of these figures and the plays they populated had changed: the emphasis now was upon entertainment and excess. My discussion of Peele's David and Bethsabe will detail the ways in which the play is attuned to the religious and theatrical concerns of the 1590s and therefore complicates earlier critical narratives which have regarded later biblical plays as a medieval hangover, or simply an Elizabethan rendering of earlier religious drama

in The genres of Renaissance tragedy
The material life of the household

In a theatre that self-consciously cultivated its audiences' imagination, how and what did playgoers ‘see’ on the stage? This book reconstructs one aspect of that imaginative process, considering a range of printed and documentary evidence for the way ordinary individuals thought about their houses and households. It then explores how writers of domestic tragedies engaged those attitudes to shape their representations of domesticity. The book therefore offers a way of understanding theatrical representations based around a truly interdisciplinary study of the interaction between literary and historical methods. The opening chapters use household manuals, court depositions, wills and inventories to reconstruct the morality of household space and its affective meanings, and to explore ways of imaging these spaces. Further chapters discuss Arden of Faversham, Two Lamentable Tragedies, A Woman Killed With Kindness and A Yorkshire Tragedy, considering how the dynamics of the early modern house were represented on the stage. They identify a grammar of domestic representation stretching from subtle identifications of location to stage properties and the use of stage space. Investigating the connections between the seen and the unseen, between secret and revelation, between inside and outside, household and community, these plays are shown to offer a uniquely developed domestic mimesis.