CDE Studies

CDE Studies 27

Ariane de Waal
Theatre on Terror: Subject Positions in British Drama.

Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2017.
ISBN 978-3-11-051708-8, 297 pp., hardb., € 99,95 (2017)

In a moment of intense uncertainty surrounding the means, ends, and limits of (countering) terrorism, this study approaches the recent theatres of war through theatrical stagings of terror. Theatre on Terror: Subject Positions in British Drama charts the terrain of contemporary subjectivities both ‘at home’ and ‘on the front line’. Beyond examining the construction and contestation of subject positions in domestic and (sub)urban settings, the book follows border-crossing figures to the shifting battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. What emerges through the analysis of twenty-one plays is not a dichotomy but a dialectics of ‘home’ and ‘front’, where fluid, uncontainable subjects are constantly pushing the contours of conflict. Revising the critical consensus that post-9/11 drama primarily engages with ‘the real’, Ariane de Waal argues that these plays navigate the complexities of the discourse – rather than the historical or social realities – of war and terrorism. British ‘theatre on terror’ negotiates, inflects, and participates in the discursive circulation of stories, idioms, controversies, testimonies, and pieces of (mis)information in the face of global insecurities.

CDE Studies 26

Cristina Delgado-García
Rethinking Character in Contemporary British Theatre: Aesthetics, Politics, Subjectivity

Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2015.
ISBN 978-3-11-040390-9, 228 pp., hardb., € 99,95 (2015)

The category of theatrical character has been swiftly dismissed in the academic reception of no-longer-dramatic texts and performances. However, claims on the dissolution of character narrowly demarcate what a subject is and how it may appear. This volume unmoors theatre scholarship from the regulatory ideals of liberal humanism, stretching the notion of character to encompass and illuminate otherwise unaccounted-for subjects, aesthetic strategies and political gestures in recent theatre works. To this aim, contemporary philosophical theories of subjectivation, European theatre studies, and experimental, script-led work produced in Britain since the late 1990s are mobilised as discussants on the question of subjectivity. Four contemporary playtexts and their performances are examined in depth: Sarah Kane’s Crave and 4.48 Psychosis, Ed Thomas’s Stone City Blue and Tim Crouch’s ENGLAND. Through these case studies, Delgado-García demonstrates alternative ways of engaging theoretically with character, and elucidating a range of subjective figures beyond identity and individuality. Alongside these analyses, the book traces a large body of work that has experimented with speech attribution since the early twentieth-century. This is a timely contribution to contemporary theatre scholarship, which demonstrates that character remains a malleable and politically-salient notion in which understandings of subjectivity are still being negotiated.

CDE Studies 25

Claudia Georgi
Liveness on Stage: Intermedial Challenges in Contemporary British Theatre and Performance

Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.
ISBN 978-3-11-034653-4, 274 pp., hardb., € 109,95 (2014)

Theatre is traditionally considered a live medium but its ‚liveness‘ can no longer simply be taken for granted in view of the increasing mediatisation of the stage.

Drawing on theories of intermediality, Liveness on Stage explores how performances that incorporate film or video self-reflexively stage and challenge their own liveness by contrasting or approximating live and mediatised action. To illustrate this, the monograph investigates key aspects such as ‘ephemerality’, ‘co-presence’, ‘unpredictability’, ‘interaction’ and ‘realistic representation’ and highlights their significance for re-evaluating received notions of liveness. The analysis is based on productions by Gob Squad, Forkbeard Fantasy, Station House Opera, Proto-type Theater, Tim Etchells and Mary Oliver. In their playful approaches these practitioners predominantly present such media combination as a means of cross-fertilisation rather than as an antagonism between liveness and mediatisation.

Combining an original theoretical approach with an in-depth analysis of the selected productions, this study will appeal to scholars and practitioners of theatre and performance as well as to those researching intermedial phenomena.

CDE Studies 24

Clara Escoda Agusti
Martin Crimps’s Theatre: Collapse as Resistance to Late Capitalist Society

Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2013.
ISBN 978-3-11-030995-9, 336 pp., hardb., € 99,95 (2013)

This book reads Martin Crimp’s The Treatment (1993), Attempts on her Life (1997), The Country (2000), Face to the Wall (2002), Cruel and Tender (2004) and his adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull (2006) in the context of contemporary, late capitalist societies of control or of ’spectacle‘, and explores how female collapse in particular works as a form of denunciation of the violence of globalized, technological neo-liberalism.

The book contends that Crimp is a post-Holocaust writer, whose dramaturgy is pervaded by the ethical and aesthetic debates that the Holocaust has generated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its main claim is that, by interpellating spectators through the defamiliarized language of collapse and testimony, Crimp invites spectators to contribute to detecting the seeds of ‚barbarism‘ as they may detect them in their context, thus warning them about the introduction of violence in supposedly civilized relationships and thereby also contributing to overcoming the contemporary ethical impasse.

The book finally argues that female characters who pass on their testimony are shown to the audience in the ‚process of becoming‘ ethical bodies – namely, they are emerge as ethical out of the perceived necessity to integrate both the Other as essential parts of their beings, thus recovering an innate, Baumian sense of responsibility towards the Other.

CDE Studies 23

Elżbieta Baraniecka
Sublime Drama: British Theatre of the 1990s

Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2013.
ISBN 978-3-11-030993-5, 254 S., geb., € 99,95 (2013)

British drama of the 1990s is most commonly associated with the term in-yer-face theatre, which was coined by Aleks Sierz to describe the shocking and provocative work of emerging playwrights such as Mark Ravenhill or Sarah Kane. Taking a cue from Sierz’s own suggestion that what still remains to be researched more thoroughly in this field is the particular relationship between the stage and the audience, this monograph undertakes precisely that task.

Rather than use the term offered by Sierz, however, the study proposes a different concept to account for the dynamics of communication within the particular theatre of the 1990s, namely the aesthetic category of the sublime. Coupled with elements of Reader Response Theory, the sublime proves to be a more fruitful term, as it provides more precise tools for the analysis of the audience’s aesthetic response than does in-yer-face theatre.

With the help of four representative plays by four key playwrights of that time, Closer by Patrick Marber, Normal by Anthony Neilson, Faust is Dead by Mark Ravenhill and 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane, the book details the consecutive stages in the process of the plays‘ reception that the members of the audience go through while forming their aesthetic response to them. Looking through the prism of the sublime, the study not only offers a detailed analysis of each play but also suggests an entirely new approach to British drama of the 1990s.

CDE Studies 22

Paula Deubner
„Into the Light“: Selbst und Transzendenz in den Dramen Sarah Kanes

Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2012.
ISBN 978-3-86821-371-3, 254 S., kt., € 27,50 (2012)

Vergewaltigung, Verstümmelung und Selbstmord – die Bilder der Gewalt in den Dramen Sarah Kanes sind drastisch. Sie sind Teil einer Dramaturgie der figuralen Durchdringung, die hier unter dem Stichwort „Transfiguralität“ systematisch interpretiert wird. Kane thematisiert mit der Transfiguralität die Suche nach einer ultimativen Identität, die nicht in der Identifikation mit dem Anderen, sondern in der Transzendenz ihren Zielpunkt findet. Damit entwirft Kane in ihrer Dramaturgie eine moderne Mystik, in der das Selbst nur in seiner Überwindung und Auflösung gelingt. Der geschundene Leib wird mit einer negativen Religiosität und mit Vorstellungen romantischer Liebe konnotiert. Aus dieser Dramatisierung von Leiblichkeit, Liebe und Religiosität entwickelt Kane eine Teleologie des Selbst, die auf transzendierende Grenzerfahrungen zielt. Mit dieser Studie liegt erstmals eine umfassende Analyse des Nexus von Selbst und Transzendenz in den Dramen Kanes vor.

CDE Studies 21

Ulrike Behlau-Dengler
Zakhor! Remembering the British-Jewish Experience in British-Jewish Drama after 1945

Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2011.
ISBN 978-3-86821-314-0, 494 S., kt., € 48,50 (2011)

The very existence of British-Jewish drama has long been an open question. In October 2000, David Jays noted that „Jewish writing is a neglected presence in British Theatre“ and, in 2003, Diane Samuels referred to the same problem at a panel discussion stating that only Jews seem to notice that „[Harold] Pinter’s a profoundly Jewish writer“. In 2011, the question has been rephrased – but seemingly not settled – as Pascal asks the question whether „writing Jewish“ might (still) be a problem. As this thesis shows, British-Jewish drama seems to be very much alive, and memory and the act of remembering itself have emerged as central topics within British-Jewish drama. This thesis isolates four central ‚time-spaces‘, or chronotopes (Bakhtin), around which strategies of remembering and thus definitions of ‚who are we as British Jews‘ have clustered since the end of the Second World War: the Jewish East End as the birthplace of British-Jewish identity for Jewish immigrants and their children between the 1880s and the Blitz; the Jewish communities‘ suffering during the Middle Ages both on the continent and on British soil – which is also read as a precursor to the anti-Jewish hatred that marked the Holocaust; the Holocaust and its reverberations both on the continent and on UK territory; and the hopes and struggles for a stable and peaceful State of Israel from the 1940s until today. These imagined time-spaces have emerged as cornerstones of British-Jewish collective memory and have been used to structure and assign meaning to the experience of Jewish life in Great Britain. The dramatisations of British-Jewish figures of memory by Kops, Wesker, Steven Berkoff, Pascal, Samuels and Pinter are aimed at both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, challenging Holocaust amnesia as well as simplistic and anti-Semitic representations of Jewish life. They do not intend to establish a dramatic sub or counter culture, but try to open up the monolithic self-definition of British collective memory to include a British-Jewish perspective as well, dealing with essential experiences and narratives of Jewish – but not just Jewish – life in Britain today.

CDE Studies 20

Julia Weidenbach
„The Power of the Past“: Arthur Millers späte Dramen

Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2011.
ISBN 978-3-86821-312-6, 328 S., kt., € 35,00 (2011)

„I started writing plays in 1934, almost sixty years ago, and I still don’t know how to do it!“, sagte Arthur Miller einmal. Eine bescheidene Aussage für einen Dramatiker, der mit Anfang 30 weltberühmt wurde. Sie beschreibt jedoch auch Arthur Millers Schaffensdrang. Bis kurz vor seinem Tod 2005 verfasste er Dramen, das Alter war eine seiner schöpferischsten Phasen. Arthur Millers Spätwerk steht jedoch im Schatten der berühmten frühen Stücke. Die Forschung befasst sich wenig mit den späten Dramen. Dieses Buch möchte diese Lücke füllen, indem es den Schwerpunkt auf die besonders interessanten Dramen der 90er-Jahre legt, diese interpretiert und in den Gesamtzusammenhang des Werkes stellt. Es werden starke Parallelen zu früheren Stücken beschrieben wie auch Entwicklungen, sowohl in thematischer als auch in formaler Hinsicht. Wie der Handlungsreisende Willy Loman hecheln auch in vielen späten Dramen die Figuren gesellschaftlichen Mythen hinterher und müssen sich mit ihrer Vergangenheit auseinandersetzen. Aufgrund seiner Kritik an der amerikanischen Gesellschaft gilt Arthur Miller als Altmeister des sozialkritischen Realismus. Gerade im Spätwerk experimentierte er jedoch immer wieder mit der Dramenform.

CDE Studies 19

Jürgen Wehrmann
Gedächtnis als Gefängnis: Metahistorische Reflexion in zeitgenössischen irischen Dramen

Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2011.
ISBN 978-3-86821-297-6, 432 S., kt., € 41,50 (2011)

Since the 1970s, numerous plays that connect remembering to imprisonment have been published and performed in Ireland. The present monograph interprets the recurrence of this motif as an element in a complex debate on a crisis of national memory, triggered primarily by the Troubles but also by experiences of modernisation and globalisation. The central challenge for drama in this situation has been the realisation that time and again the Irish nation has been imagined as a performance and that the theatre has played a significant role in staging heroic sacrifices for the nation. While exploring the usage of history in society, Irish drama does not only celebrate the utopian potential of the theatre as an antidote to political encrustation but also interrogates the theatre as a medium of national memory and its complicity with violence and oppression.

The Irish example thus suggests emphasising the differences between historiographic metafiction in prose and metahistorical reflection in drama. Instead of the structural affinity, it is the medial distance to historiography that opens up opportunities specific to the dramatic form. Due to its intermedial character as texts intended to be performed, plays are particularly capable of staging and reflecting on tensions and transitions between individual and collective memory; interaction and mediality; myth, fiction and history; as well as politics, academia and the theatre.

Against the background of constellations of historical memory that are traced back down to the Irish Renaissance and the Young Ireland movement, the monograph focuses on the analysis of select plays by Brian Friel, Stewart Parker and Sebastian Barry – playwrights to whose work metahistorical reflection is central and who represent different generations, communities and theatrical agendas.

CDE Studies 18

Janine Hauthal
Metadrama und Theatralität: Gattungs- und Medienreflexion in zeitgenössischen englischen Theatertexten

Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2010.
ISBN 978-3-86821-211-2, 380 S., kt., € 38,50 (2010)

Wie auf dem Theater etablieren sich auch im zeitgenössischen Schreiben für die Bühne zunehmend Formen der Darstellung ohne realistische Handlung, Figuren oder Dialoge, die zur Erneuerung etablierter Ästhetiken in Drama und Theater beitragen. Im Rückgriff auf Theorien des Metadramas erfolgt in der vorliegenden Studie erstmals eine systematische Erfassung und funktionstheoretische Bestimmung des medien- und gattungsreflexiven Potenzials dieser Schreibweisen. Dabei erfordert die Entwicklung vom Drama zum postdramatischen Theatertext eine umfassende Neukonzeptualisierung des Metadramas am Schnittpunkt von Literatur- und Theaterwissenschaft. Dem theoretischen Entwurf liegt ein intermedialer Ansatz zugrunde, für den die Unterscheidung von auf das Drama als Form oder Fiktion bezogenen metadramatischen Schreibweisen und auf das Theater – die Aufführung, den Medienwechsel oder Konventionen der theatralen Darstellung – bezogenen metatheatralen Schreibweisen von zentraler Bedeutung ist.

Die theoretischen Überlegungen zum Metadrama münden in ein differenziertes gattungs- und medienspezifisches Analyseraster sowie eine funktionstheoretische Skalierung. Dieses Instrumentarium wird in ausführlichen Analysen (post-)dramatischer Theatertexte von Peter Nichols, Michael Redhill, Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane und Alan Ayckbourn angewendet. Die Bandbreite der so aufgezeigten Metaisierungen reicht vom Aufbau einer Schreibillusion und von der Inszenierung einer Dramatikerfigur bis zu Metaisierungen im Nebentext und experimentellen Inszenierungen der Druckseite, die sich als anti-theatralische Verweigerungen der mise en scène erweisen und ein texttheatrales Funktionspotenzial entfalten.