The goal of this course is to analyze from historiographic and poetic perspectives the genealogy, underlying motives, practical and theoretical conceptions and several of the multifarious modes and genres that revolutionized Western Theatre and Performance, revived their ancient rationale, and turned them from a dying elitist commodity or from popular entertainment into an ideologically-infused and existentially-significant art form from the 1870s (Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy From the Spirit of Music, Zola's "Towards a Naturalistic Theatre", Ibsen's Pillars of Society, A Dollhouse) to the 1970s (the age of the experimental, socially-conscious, multi-cultural, inter-medial, Performance-Art oriented group theatres of Richard Schechner, Julian Beck and Judith Malina, Peter Brook, Arianne Mnouchkine and Eugenio Barba).
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's second founding manifesto of Italian Futurism - Let's Kill the Moonlight, published in 1909, exalting speed, the "love of danger", aggression, war and audacity - intended to provoke its addressees by attacking the "passéist" mentality of the prevailing middle-class culture, in other words, by highlighting the incoherent relation of "electrified" modern life to traditional art, including theatre and its outmoded, moderate, romantic and reflective conventions. Marinetti's protest implies the binary poles of modernist dramaturgy and histrionic practice. Throughout the century under discussion theatrical aesthetics vacillated in dialectical cycles of action and reaction between various conceptions of the theatrical performance either as a neo-Aristotelian ‘objective’, ‘realistic’, mimetic, illusionist, representative and pseudo-scientific laboratory – a kind of fictional enclave that regards the spectator as an onlooker and witness through an imaginary fourth wall – or detecting, exposing, affirming and/or criticizing and reforming prevailing psychological, social, cultural and political processes, on the one hand, and non-Aristotelian, avant-garde, experiential, non-realistic, stylized, theatrically-conscious, presentative and self-referential approaches which tended to consider the performance as a multimedial ‘event’ involving the spectators, on the other. The latter was intended to rhetorically protest against or demolish hegemonic bourgeois society, to resuscitate dormant primeval human drives, or to instigate a social revolution.
Starting with an attempt to decipher the relevant vocabulary and philosophical premises – such as the difference between ‘Modernity’ and ‘Modernism’, as well as the phenomenologically-based relativist concepts of ‘reality convention’ and ‘implied spectator’ – the course will explore and exemplify through paradigmatic works, major theatrical movements, schools and genres subsumed under the meta-concepts of ‘Modernist Theatre’, as well as their aesthetic antecedents and philosophical fields of reference. Within this framework, we shall consider the close interaction between these theatrical phenomena and the broader artistic and extra-artistic contexts in which they are embedded, to which they react, and which they themselves – to a considerable extent – generate. Two major intertwined issues will constitute the crux of the entire course: a) the gradual transition from the hegemony of the written, ‘literary’ drama to that of its theatrical enunciation, and from the text-based theatre production to ‘Performance Art’; b) the immense influence of Eastern conventions, beliefs and philosophies on western Modernist Theatre. This, in a way, will lend the course a globalized focus.
Full attendance, participation, and thorough acquaintance with weekly prescribed texts (play and/or criticism) – 30% of the credit; Final exam – 70%
First Week: Subject: The cultural, socio-political and phenomenological origins and contexts of Modernist Theatre.
- Bradbury, Malcolm & James McFarlane, eds., Modernism 1890 – 1950, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976, pp. 19-55.
- Frascina, Francis Modernity and Modernism, New Haven, 1993.
- Seigel, Jerold, Modernity and Bourgeois Life, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 482-525.
Second Week: Subject: The aesthetic origins of Modernist Drama.
- Aristotle, "The Poetics", trans. Ingram Bywater, selection. In Daniel Gerould, ed., Ibid., pp. 43-67.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich, "The Birth of Tragedy" (1872). In Ibid., pp. 336-350.
- Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, "Hamburg Dramaturgy", trans. Helen Zimmern, selections. In Ibid., pp. 236-247.
Third Week: Subject (Part 1): Social, psychological and poetic Naturalism and Realism – major developments from the Duke of Sachs-Meiningen to Arthur Miller.
- Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts.
- Anton Chekhov, Three Sisters.
- Henrik Ibsen, The Lady from the Sea.
- August Strindberg, A Dream Play.
Anton Chekhov, The Seagull.
- Maxim Gorky, The Lower Depths
- Cole, Toby & Helen Krich Chinoy, Directors on Directing: A Source Book of Modern Theatre, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, 1953: George II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, "Pictorial Motion", pp. 79-88; André Antoine, "Behind the Fourth Wall", pp. 89-102; Konstantin Stanislavsky, "Creative Work with the Actor", pp. 109-118.
- Innes, Christopher ed., A Sourcebook on Naturalist Theatre, London & New York: Routledge, 2000, pp. 3-63.
- McFarlane, James, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Ibsen, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 68-88; 183-204, 227-232.
- Reinert, Otto, ed., Strindberg: A Collection of Critical Essays, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1971, pp. 105-116; 137-151.
- Strindberg, August, "Preface to Miss Julie" (1888), in: Daniel Gerould, ed., Ibid., pp. 368-380.
Fourth Week: Subject (Part 2): Social, psychological and poetic Naturalism and Realism – major developments from the Duke of Sachs-Meiningen to Arthur Miller.
- Federico Garcia Lorca, The House of Bernarda Alba.
- Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author.
- Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman.
- Eugene O'Neil, Long Day's Journey into Night
- Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie.
- Arthur Miller, All My Sons.
- ----------------, "Tragedy and the Common Man", in: Barrett H. Clark (Ed.), European Theories of the Drama, NY: Crown Pub., 1965, pp. 536-538.
- Pirandello, Luigi, "Preface to Six Characters in Search of an Author", in: Barrett H. Clark ed., European Theories of the Drama, NY: Crown Pub., 1965, pp. 206-213.
Murphy, Brenda, "The Tradition of Social Drama: Miller and his Forbearers", in: Christopher Bigsby, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 10-20.
Fifth Week: Subject: The Roots of Multimedia: Wagner, Appia and the Gesamtkunstwerk.
- Appia, Adolph, "Light and Space", in: Toby Cole & Helen K. Chinoy, Directors on Directing: A Source Book of Modern Theatre, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, 1953. pp. 138-146.
- Wagner, Richard, "The Work of Art of the Future" (1849), in: George W. Brandt (ed.), Modern Theories of Drama , Oxford: Clarendon, 1998 pp. 3-11.
- Kerndole, George E., "Wagner, Appia, and the Idea of Musical Design", in: E. T. Kirby, ed., Total Theatre: A Critical Anthology, New York: E. P. Dutto, 1969, pp. 9-19.
- Wagner, R., "Opera Affirms the Separation of the Arts"; "Essence of Drama Is Knowing Through Feeling", in: E. T. Kirby, ed., Ibid., pp. 2-8.
Sixth Week: Subject: Symbolist Dramaturgy, Directing and Design: Jarry, Maeterlinck, Craig.
- Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi
- Craig, Gordon, "The Actor and the Übermarionette" (1907), selections. In Daniel Gerould, ed., Theatre/Theory/Theatre, Ibid., pp. 390-398.
- Innes, Christopher, "Symbolism and Alfred Jarry". In C. Innes, Avant-Garde Theatre 1892 – 1992, London: Routledge, 1993, pp. 19-46.
- Maurice Maeterlinck, The Blue Bird.
- Craig, Gordon, "The Artist of the Theatre". In Toby Cole & Helen H. Chinoy, Directors on Directing, Ibid., pp. 147-163.
- Lyons, Charles R., "Gordon Craig's Concept of the Actor". In E. T. Kirby ed., Total Theatre, ibid., pp. 58 – 77.
- Maeterlinck, Maurice, "The Tragical in Daily Life" (1896). In Daniel Gerould, ed., Theatre/Theory/Theatre, ibid., pp. 381-389.
Seventh Week: Subject: Murdering the Moonlight: Italian Futurism
- Kirby, Michael, Futurist Performance, N.Y.: Dutton, 1971, pp. 3-27; 33-65.
- Various Sintesi, in: Ibid., pp. 232-308.
Tisdall, Caroline & Angelo Bozzola, Futurism, London: Thames and Hudson, 1977, pp. 89-119.
Eighth Week: Subject: The Rhetoric of German Expressionism: From the Ich Drama to the Neue Sachlichkeit.
- Oskar Kokoschka, Murderer, The Women's Hope.
- Georg Kaiser, From Morning to Midnight.
- Hern, Nicholas, "Expressionism", in: Ronald Hayman, ed., The German Theatre: A Symposium, London: Oswald Wolff; NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 1975, pp. 107-128.
- Reinhard Sorge, The Beggar.
- Carl Sternheim, The Bloomers.
- Kuhns, David F., German Expressionist Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 20-93.
- Sokel, Walter H., The Writer in Extremis: Expressionism in Twentieth-Century German Literature, Stanford University Press, 1959, pp. 55-82, 164-191.
Ninth Week: Subject: The Early Meta-Theatrical Avant-garde: Dada and Surrealism
- Guillaume Apollinaire, The Breasts of Teresias; Jean Cocteau, The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower; Tristan Tzara, The Gas Heart; Antonin Artaud, Jet of Blood.
- Bigsby, Christopher , Dada and Surrealism, The Critical Idiom, London: Methuen, 1972. [Note: Read the entire small book].
- Gordon, Mel, ed., Dada Performance, NY: PAJ Pub., 1987, pp. 7-24; 37-62.
Tenth Week: Subject: The Epic Theatre from Brecht to Frisch
- Bertolt Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
- Max Frisch, Andorra.
- Brecht, Bertolt, "The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre" (1930); "Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting". In: Daniel Gerould, ed., Theatre/Theory/Theatre, Ibid., pp. 444-461.
- Shvestova, Maria, " The Caucasian Chalk Circle : the view from Europe". In Peter Thomson & Glendyr Sacks, The Cambridge Companion to Brecht, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 153-164.
- Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Three Children.
- Brooker, Peter, "Key Words in Brecht's Theory and Practice of Theatre", in: The Cambridge Companion to Brecht, ibid., pp. 185-200.
Eleventh Week: Subject: The Documentary and Political Theatre from Piscator to Weiss.
- Peter Weiss, The Investigation.
- Piscator, Erwin, "The Programme of the Proletarian Theatre" (1920). In George W. Brandt (Ed.), Modern Theories of Drama , ibid, pp. 220-223.
- Peter Weiss, The persecution and assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as performed by the inmates of the asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade (Marat/Sade).
- Motti Lerner, The Confession.
- Innes, C. D., Erwin Piscator's Political Theatre: The Development of Modern German Drama, Cambridge University Press, 1972, pp. 9-96.
- Weiss, Peter, "The Material and the Models: Towards a Definition of Documentary Theatre" (1968), in: Ibid., pp. 247-253.
Twelfth Week: Subject: The Post-2WW Avant-Garde – Existentialism, Absurd, Performance Art
- Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit.
- Eugene Ionesco, The Bald Prima-Donna.
- Esslin, Martin, The Theatre of the Absurd, NY: Anchor Books-Doubleday & Co., 1969, pp. 1-10.
- Carlson, Marvin, Performance: A Critical Introduction, London & NY: Routledge, 1996, pp. 1-12.
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
- Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party
- Jean Genet, The Maids
- Heiner Müller, The Hamletmachine
- Esslin, M., Ibid., pp. 1-65; 100-165.
- Carlson, Marvin, Performance: A Critical Introduction, Ibid.., pp. 79-120.