The politics of Jean Genet’s late theatre

Spaces of revolution

Author: Carl Lavery

Jean Genet has long been regarded as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Since the publication of Jean-Paul Sartre's existential biography Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr in 1952, his writing has attracted the attention of leading French thinkers and philosophers. In the UK and US, his work has played a major role in the development of queer and feminist studies, where his representation of sexuality and gender continues to provoke controversy. This book aims to argue for Genet's influence once again, but it does so by focusing uniquely on the politics of his late theatre. The first part of the book explores the relationship between politics and aesthetics in Genet's theatre and political writing in the period 1955 to 1986. The second part focuses on the spatial politics of The Balcony, The Blacks and The Screens by historicising them within the processes of modernisation and decolonisation in France of the 1950s and 1960s. The third part of the book analyses how Genet's radical spatiality works in practice by interviewing key contemporary practitioners, Lluís Pasqual, JoAnne Akalaitis, and Ultz and Excalibah. The rationale behind these interviews is to find a way of merging past and present. The rationale so explores why Genet's late theatre, although firmly rooted within its own political and historical landscape, retains its relevance for practitioners working within different geographical and historical contexts today.

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