February 22, 2017

Against Theatre: Creative destructions on the modernist by Alan Ackerman, Martin Puchner (eds.)

By Alan Ackerman, Martin Puchner (eds.)

Against Theatre exhibits that the main well known writers of recent drama shared a thorough rejection of the theatre as they knew it. including designers, composers and picture makers, they plotted to break all present theatres. yet from their destruction emerged the main dazzling techniques of modernist theatre.

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It was, in fact, the clutter, detail, technology, and the intrusion of elements of the everyday into the realm of the theatrical (furniture, food, ‘real’ people rather than actors) that led Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé to call for a kind of ‘detheatricalization’ of the theatre. If ever there was a crusade ‘against theatre’, this was it and it would echo through the avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century. 26 Frames The deconstruction of the spectator If the frame produces not only the stage but the spectator, then to detheatricalize the theatre is to call into question the role of the spectator within that construction.

11. 29. 144. 30. 148–9. 31. Pierre Quillard, ‘The girl with cut-off hands’, The Drama Review, 20:3 (September 1976): 123. 32. xxv. 33. 12. 34. Alfred Jarry, ‘Preliminary Address at the First Performance of Ubu Roi, December 10, 1896’, in Selected Works of Alfred Jarry, 77–8. 35. 44. 36. F. T. Marinetti, E. Settimelli and B. Corra, ‘The Futurist Synthetic Theatre’ [1915], in trans. R. W. Flint and Michael Kirby, Futurist Performance (New York: E. P. 197. 37. 202. 38. 199. 39. These Futurist events bear some resemblance to the actions advocated by Brazilian director Augusto Boal, but his events similarly staged in public spaces were intended to ultimately engage the spectators into discussion that would lead to an alteration of their life circumstances.

Maurice Pottecher, for instance, created The People’s Theatre, an open-air theatre at Bussang, in 1895. 25 Presumably, playing in the pure environment of nature would allow the ‘non-theatrical’ to flourish in a way impossible on the theatrical stage. 26 If the recreation of the natural world on the stage through illusionistic techniques was antithetical to art, then the reintroduction of the performer (and the text) into nature itself served to dispel the corrupting influences of the stage while still deriving the spiritual benefits that theatre had to offer.

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