By Alan Ackerman, Martin Puchner (eds.)
Against Theatre exhibits that the main popular writers of contemporary drama shared a thorough rejection of the theatre as they knew it. including designers, composers and picture makers, they plotted to damage all present theatres. yet from their destruction emerged the main excellent strategies of modernist theatre.
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Extra info for Against Theatre: Creative destructions on the modernist stage
While the interrogation of the spectatorial role was first made overt by the Symbolists, the seeds may have been planted earlier. 16 Although Crary is looking at the social construction of vision in the nineteenth century and makes only passing reference to the theatre, the stage actually seems to be one of the prime contested sites for the very issues he raises. Although the elaborate proscenium frame is a product of the baroque, it is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the stage opening is completely bordered on all four sides by what is known as a picture-frame proscenium or sometimes a peep-show stage.
Thus, in the late twentieth century, it is opera that has become the site of the avant-garde, at least in regard to staging. The frame has reasserted itself with a vengeance, strongly encasing the post-modern pastiche of images, and erecting, once again, a window frame through which the audience perceives at a distance. From the Symbolists of the 1880s onward to the onset of the postmodern backlash, the avant-garde in particular has continuously gnawed and hacked at the frame and the exclusivity of the stage.
11. Christian Metz, The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema, trans. Celia Britton et al. 61. 3–23. 12. 5–6. 13. 5. 14. 76. 15. 9. 16. 14. Because of the range of images and products within the realm of production he is investigating, and the social relations to these objects, Crary prefers the term ‘observer’; but for a focus on theatre, I find the term ‘spectator’ more appropriate. 5–6 for his definition of ‘observer’. 17. 10–11. 18. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, trans.