Past Performance

Roger Bechtel

American Theatre and the Historical Imagination

287 pages
ISBN 1611482577

In this age of overweening global capital and omnipresent electronic media, many critics have diagnosed western culture as suffering from a kind of historical obliviousness, a mass inability to situate our lived experience within the temporal flow of past, present, and future that is history. Within this historically bankrupt culture, representations of history in whatever medium - cinema, television, print - most often become mere fashion, the quotation of past styles devoid of historical gravitas. Against this, Past Performance: American Theatre and the Historical Imagination argues that many contemporary American theatre and performance artists are not only developing innovative strategies for staging history but helping us reimagine our relationship with the past. Some of the plays and performances examined here include Suzan-Lori Park's Venus, Wendy McLeod's The House of Yes, the Wooster Group's production of Eugene O'Neill's The Empire Jones, and Robert Wilson's staging of Heiner Müller's Hamletmachine.

About the author:

Roger Bechtel is Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Theatre at Miami University, Ohio.


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