“DRAMATURGIES OF THE POST-DRAMATIC: Theories and techniques of the theatrical text in the late 1900s and the early 2000s”
The last part of the 20th Century marked a radical change in the modalities of theatre-making, which became more and more performative, centered on the here and now of the event, rather than on the faithful staging of a pre-constituted text. Some theorists have tried to establish a new critical vocabulary with which to approach the new phenomena, in particular Hans-Thies Lehmann, who proposed the new aesthetic paradigm of the post-dramatic. In this world, as charted by Lehmann, the interest is predominantly in the scene, while the text is addressed only marginally. This study aims to fill that gap. After tracing the roots of the performative change starting with Artaud, it reviews the principal 20th Century theories on the theatre text, focusing on the variations in their composition. It then proposes a vocabulary and analytical process with which to approach recent works by theatre writers which do not easily fit into the dramatic landscape. This study adopts the concept of movement in place of traditional dramatic action, of fragment in place of scene, and examines new modalities of character, to arrive at presence, identifying montage as the compositive technique par excellence of the post-dramatic era. Finally, through analysis of four texts – The Job Interview by Michael Vinaver, Far Away by Caryl Churchill, Scissors, Paper, Rock by Daniel Keene and In, on, it by Daniel MacIvor – it arrives at the conclusion that the contemporary theatre text has a hybrid nature, in which the dramatic is often the raw material for the post-dramatic process.
“Il collasso del dramma: cosa rimane?” in Rivista Itinera n° 5, Department of Philosophy and Arts, State University of Milan, 2013
The Neo-avantgardes of the 20th century left an indelible mark on the idea of theatre, establishing once and for all the concept of drama as a theatrical form, historically defined and based on identifiable criteria. The script as an end in itself was either dismissed – and pure performance was thus preferred –, or it was used as a device or starting point for what was occurring on stage in the hybrid, experimental theatrical forms. The role of playwrights – and therefore that of the script as an independently meaningful structure – fell into a deep crisis. By coming to grips with the new experiences, playwrights were able to explore new modes of textual expression, putting their art back on the right track. What dimensions do the categories of drama take on today? What are the new literary devices and techniques that contemporary playwrights can adopt? In order to try and answer these questions, we will analyse the script La demande d’emploi (The job application) by Michel Vinaver. Although written in 1971 – therefore, at the very beginning of the mentioned revolutionary period –, it already presents very important features of a type of playwriting that can be qualified as post-dramatic, like almost the entirety of the playwright’s work. We will explore and develop concepts like fragment, movement and polyphony, that can be frequently encountered in contemporary theatrical texts and with which both scholars and theatre professionals have to come to terms.
Download the English version: “The collapse of drama: what is left?”.