The Theater of Transformation: Postmodernism in American Drama offers a fresh and innovative reading of the contemporary experimental American theater scene and navigates through the contested and contentious relationship between postmodernism and contemporary drama. This book addresses gender and class as well as racial issues in the context of a theoretical discussion of dramatic texts, textuality, and performance. The Theater of Transformation: Postmodernism in American Drama is written for anyone interested in contemporary American drama and theater as well as in postmodernism and contemporary literary theory. It appeals even more broadly to a readership intrigued by the ubiquitous aspects of popular culture, by feminism and ethnicity and by issues pertaining to the so-called society of spectacle and the study of contemporary media.
The absence of drama in most considerations of the "post-modern condition," Stephen Watt argues, demands a renewed exploration of drama's relationships with late capitalist economy, post-Marxian politics, and commodity culture. But Postmodern/Drama asks a provocative question: Does an entity such as postmodern drama in fact exist? Scrutinizing the critical tendency to label texts or writers as "postmodern," and delineating what it might mean to "read" drama more "postmodernly," Watt demonstrates that playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Cherri Moraga, Harold Pinter, David Rabe, Karen Finley, and others should not be labeled "postmodernist," but rather recognized as producers of texts that might be termed "post-modern." Watt demonstrates that reading contemporary drama in such a fashion means reading culture more broadly, and he charts the kinds of exploratory movements such reading demands. Rigorously interdisciplinary, Postmodern/Drama carefully articulates the margins among genres and media. The book also considers novels by Beckett, Italo Calvino, and Don DeLillo; films by George Huang and Robert Altman; and commentary on postmodernity by Jean Baudrillard and Fredric Jameson. In the end, the postmodernity of contemporary drama is shown as less a question of genre or media than of a certain mode of subjectivity shared and contested by playwrights, producers, and audiences. "A very readable and well constructed book. Watt's approach is exploratory and this is particularly impressive. His thesis is all the more convincing for his willingness to consider both sides of any given critical argument or approach." --Lois Oppenheim, Montclair State University Stephen Watt is Professor of English, Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the author of Joyce, O'Casey, and the Irish Popular Theater, and coeditor of Marketing Modernisms (with Kevin J. H. Detmar), American Drama: Colonial to Contemporary (with Gary L. Richardson), and When They Weren't Doing Shakespeare (with Judith L. Fisher).
This collection of essays is impressive in its breadth, ranging over English (Shakespeare, Stoppard, Churchill, Ravenhill, Penhall), Irish (MacNamara, Johnston), American (O Neill, Stein, Kushner, Lynn), and Continental (Beckett, Weiss, Jelinek) dramatists; furthermore, many of the plays given extended treatment King Lear, The Emperor Jones, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Investigation, Top Girls, and Angels in America are frequently anthologized and/or taught. And because each of these essays was written by a different author, the range of theorists and critics drawn upon (Lyotard, Jameson, McHale, Hutcheon, Derrida, Barthes, Baudrillard, Levinas, Hassan, etc.) is so extensive as to provide a veritable overview of postmodern theory as it might usefully be applied to the theatre.
The contributors examine varied topics such as the analysis of periodicity; the articulation of social, political, and cultural production in theatre; the re-evaluation of texts, performances, and canons; and demonstrations of how interdisciplinarity inflects theatre and its practice.
This book explores the development of contemporary theatre in the United States in its historical, political and theoretical dimensions. It focuses on representative plays and performance texts that experiment with form and content, discussing influential playwrights and performance artists such as Tennessee Williams, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepard, Tony Kushner, Charles Ludlum, Anna Deavere Smith, Karen Finley and Will Power, alongside avant-garde theatre groups. Saddik traces the development of contemporary drama since 1945, and discusses the cross-cultural impact of postwar British and European innovations on American theatre from the 1950s to the present day in order to examine the performance of American identity. She argues that contemporary American theatre is primarily a postmodern drama of inclusion and diversity that destabilizes the notion of fixed identity and questions the nature of reality.
Extremely well written, and exceedingly well informed, this is a work that opens a variety of important questions in sophisticated and theoretically nuanced ways. It is hard to imagine a better tour guide than Fuchs for a trip through the last thirty years of, as she puts it, what we used to call the ‘avant-garde.’" —Essays in Theatre ... an insightful set of theoretical ‘takes’ on how to think about theatre before and theatre after modernism." —Theatre Journal In short, for those who never experienced a ‘postmodern swoon,’ Elinor Fuchs is an excellent informant." —Performing Arts Journal ... a thoughtful, highly readable contribution to the evolving literature on theatre and postmodernism." —Modern Drama A work of bold theoretical ambition and exceptional critical intelligence.... Fuchs combines mastery of contemporary cultural theory with a long and full participation in American theater culture: the result is a long-needed, long-awaited elaboration of a new theatrical paradigm." —Una Chaudhuri, New York University What makes this book exceptional is Fuchs’ acute rehearsal of the stranger unnerving events of the last generation that have—in the cross-reflections of theory—determined our thinking about theater. She seems to have seen and absorbed them all." —Herbert Blau, Center for Twentieth Century Studies, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Surveying the extraordinary scene of the postmodern American theater, Fuchs boldly frames key issues of subjectivity and performance with the keenest of critical eyes for the compelling image and the telling gesture." —Joseph Roach, Tulane University ... Fuchs makes an exceptionally lucid and eloquent case for the value and contradictions in postmodern theater." —Alice Rayner, Stanford University Arguably the most accessible yet learned road map to what remains for many impenetrable territory...an obligatory addition to all academic libraries serving upper-division undertgradua