Contemporary American Drama (Edinburgh Critical Guides to by Annette Saddik

By Annette Saddik

This publication explores the improvement of up to date theatre within the UnitedStates in its old, political and theoretical dimensions. Itfocuses on consultant performs and function texts that experimentwith shape and content material, discussing influential playwrights andperformance artists resembling Tennessee Williams, Adrienne Kennedy, SamShepard, Tony Kushner, Charles Ludlum, Anna Deavere Smith, Karen Finleyand Will energy, along avant-garde theatre groups.Saddik lines the advance of latest drama in view that 1945, anddiscusses the cross-cultural influence of postwar British and Europeaninnovations on American theatre from the Fifties to the current day inorder to check the functionality of yank id. She argues thatcontemporary American theatre is basically a postmodern drama ofinclusion and variety that destabilizes the idea of fastened identityand questions the character of fact.

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1. Antonin Artaud, The Theater and Its Double, trans. Mary Caroline Richards (New York: Grove Press, ), p. . 1. Elin Diamond, ‘The shudder of catharsis in twentieth century performance’, in Performance and Performativity, ed. Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick (New York: Routledge, ), p. . 1. Artaud, The Theater and Its Double, p. . 1. Ibid. p. . . Ibid. p. . . Steven Connor, Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, ), pp.

Brecht’s Epic Theatre sought to appeal to reason rather than emotion in order to foster understanding of the social forces that shape our lives; he strongly believed that alienation was crucial to any kind of understanding, providing the distance necessary for critical thinking. 1 Brecht’s primary contribution to twentieth-century theatre began with his rebellion against the forms of drama that dominated the European, British and American theatre during the early and mid-nineteenth century: the melodrama and the well-made play.

After the American director Herbert Blau returned from Europe in , impressed by the new directions in theatre that he had witnessed, his innovative staging of these European plays in the United States helped introduce the theories of Brecht and Artaud that European playwrights had embraced, moving them into the American experimental theatre scene during the s and s. As different as         their theories for the theatre are, both Brecht and Artaud reject the conventions of realism and seek to remove the artificial barriers between actor and spectator, stage and social world, maintained by a realistic theatre.

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