the concept of a postdramatic theatre as articulated by the German theorist Hans- Thies. Lehmann, this essay considers the recent work of several major. The notion of postdramatic theatre was established by German theatre researcher Hans-Thies Lehmann in his book Postdramatic Theatre, . Print/ export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. critical text in Europe, Hans-Thies Lehmann's Postdramatic Theatre lost Dramatic theatre, described by Lehmann in the past tense “was the formation of.
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Postdramatic Theatre. Hans-Thies Lehmann's groundbreaking study of the new theatre forms that have developed since the late s has become a key. The English translation of Hans-Thies Lehmann's Postdramatic Theatre, a study because the debate about postdramatic theatre has already had a good airing . PDF | Beginning with the concept of a postdramatic theatre as articulated by the German theorist Hans-Thies Lehmann, this essay considers the recent work of.
Tell others about this book Lorem About Postdramatic Theatre and the Political Is postdramatic theatre political and if so how? How does it relate to Brecht's ideas of political theatre, for example? How can we account for the relationship between aesthetics and politics in new forms of theatre, playwriting, and performance? The chapters in this book discuss crucial aspects of the issues raised by the postdramatic turn in theatre in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century: the status of the audience and modes of spectatorship in postdramatic theatre; the political claims of postdramatic theatre; postdramatic theatre's ongoing relationship with the dramatic tradition; its dialectical qualities, or its eschewing of the dialectic; questions of representation and the real in theatre; the role of bodies, perception, appearance and theatricality in postdramatic theatre; as well as subjectivity and agency in postdramatic theatre, dance and performance. As a whole, the book offers an important rejoinder to claims about postdrama's political apathy. The essays gathered here succeed in bearing vivid witness to the diversity of contemporary postdramatic practices.
Henceforth, dramatic writing has meaning only in its link to the stage, to mise en scne defined only by its connection to the stage, to staging itself defined as production and its effect on meaning, as the introduction of textual potentialities or external practices engaged in by the actor, the director, and all of their collaborators.
More challenges: PDT represents many challenges that are, at the same time, opportunities: 1 heterogeneity: the dramatic and the stage are clearly imbricated; the result is an artistic object and a theoretical notion the PD that are rather heterogeneous, though generally adapted to works and to a world familiar to us. No theory of dramatic genres, let alone stage practices, can include all these performances.
The widely differing performance pieces of PDT cannot be defined with regard to any essence or specific common characteristics, but only through radically differing scenic and social practices.
It is not only representation that is the heterogeneous totality of the arts and of their materials and discourses; they are themselves heterogeneous and non-specific: The use of arts coming from other fields is a sign of this rhapsodic impulse which challenges dramatic form Sarrazac, The difference is, rather, between a text pre-existing production, its staging as such, on the one hand, and on the other, a text created in the course of rehearsals by a team more or less closed around a leader, who could even be the playwrightor by these two at once i.
It is thus imperative that we examine the status of the text in the context of its staging. It is important not to confuse the various levels: the dramatic text is not the story, nor the narrative, nor the narration. The ultimate and principle difficulty is to understand the links between various dramatic or postdramatic forms to reality since, as Lehmann correctly states, we are in the midst of a drifting apart of dramatic form and social reality TPD, But are we still capable of establishing a link between the dramaturgical or scenic forms and our analyses of reality?
These challenges taken up by the PDT show us that the problems Lehmann emphasizes are all too real and that they bring together all the interrogations of contemporary theatre.
To re-connect the idea of the postdramatic to that of the postmodern and to deconstruction which would involve going in different directions from Lehmanns would be, to some degree, to confirm some of Lehmanns contentions, and to verify them within the framework of deconstruction. Given that the work of art is itself fragmented, deconstructed, and unfinished, the spectator or theoretician can no longer call on concepts or other tools that are both broad and relevant.
The only thing Lehmanns postdramatic can do is to refer in an eclectic way to notions borrowed from philosophers such as Derrida, Lyotard, Deleuze, Baudrillard, or Rancire. This binary division is, however, too reductive to be able to explain phenomena that escape a clear cut dichotomy.
Lehmann often refers to Derridean deconstruction but without clearly differentiating it from his own conception of the postdramatic.
It seems, however, necessary to distinguish between the postdramatic and deconstruction, in Lehmann and in Derrida, while explicitly dissociating both from postmodern thought. Deconstruction in theatre might be defined as the way in which mise en scne alternatively manifests and destroys itself before us. It locates and conducts its own fragmentation, highlighting its dissonances, its contradictions, its decentering.
A single detail in the performance can deconstruct the entire narrative structure, ruin any claim of the production to represent the world or to build a character.
This becomes a matter of operating on meaning itself, and not simply through superficial stylistic procedures. More importantly, here lies the whole difference with postmodernism, which acknowledges its taste for the hybridity of form and for a extremely developed intertextuality Pavis, , Going beyond the classic examples such as Vitezs exercises, the work of the Wooster Group, Katie Mitchells filming sessions Some Trace of Her, , stagings of Shakespeare by Jan Decorte during the s or by Jan Lauwers in the 90s or Ivo van Hove Roman Tragedies in , the staged adaptations of novels by Proust or Musil or Guy Cassiersthere are very few examples of deconstruction, stricto senso, that can claim to be philosophically inspired by Derrida; nonetheless, certain principles seem often to rise up, giving some commonality to the field: 1 Decentering through mise en scne, given that a globalized or universalized staging discourseat least a clear or explicit oneno longer exists.
The director is no longer the authorial instance, the central subject controlling everything. The actor, the creative ensemble in its entirety, technology, the media none are still required to obey an artist-demiurge. If Derridas deconstruction gives PDT its conceptual framework, it also encourages philosophical generalities, frequently departing from any grounding in a concrete analysis of performance.
Lehmanns book, along with his disciples and other artists thoughts on postdramatic staging, attempt s to return to more precise technical descriptions of performance, to re-center their work on a more classical idea of staging that is already in the process of being forgotten or neglected. Staging itself is the sole concrete place where theory and practice confront each other, calling for a wide variety of choices, including the refinement and correction of examples of PDT.
Along with these staging factors, in the continental sense we must still pay attention to the idea and the practice of performance art itself, and to play with the opposition of these two models. However, these different directions, even oppositions, through which to see and analyze theatre converge in a single hybrid practice: we may be moving toward some kind of performise, of mise en perf.
The PDT in its desire to completely abandon the mimetic for the solely performative, leaving behind the story, history, action, and characters, can result in something good or something terrible. Its tendency toward self-reference is soon exhausted, mimesis returns, the character is re-born from its ashes.
And postdramatic theory does not impose 10 its reflection extensively on the performative, given that it is not able to account for the performance work of the s and s, most notably Judith Butlers and Elisabeth Groszs feminisms. However, the current questions over identities of all sorts may lead to a better understanding of ways of making and embodying all the elements of a performance. Could bringing the general aesthetic of the postdramatic and the recent history of staging closer together provide foundations for a theory of a deconstructive or postdramatic staging?
Only if we pay close attention to the following tasks: 1. Historicizing staging practices, contextualizing and comparing them, and inscribing them more clearly within a larger framework, as a theory of media or of cultural practices.
Analyzing their strategy, their combination, their polemical value, their cultural dimension. And we must remember that within each cultural and linguistic context, identifying examples of the postdramatic and evaluating the PDT differ.
Thus, connections to classical texts are very different in the Netherlands, in France, or in England. Updating examples of this kind of theatre from the past 30 or even 40 years, examples that Lehmann first began to analyze 20 to 30 years ago.
This practice has now evolved and experiments in it diversified, even if certain artists such as those of the Rimini Protokoll have claimed for themselves the label of postdramatic while others, such as Ostermeier, have kept their distance: The postmodern theatre is part of decadent and satiated era that is now extinct. The spectator I was in Berlin at the beginning of the 90s no longer has the kind of cynicism regarding the kind of theatre done, say, at the Volksbhne, that the critics defined as deconstructivist, declaring that the great stories no longer had anything to say to us.
We are now a long way from the direct confrontation between the dramatic and the epic that Brecht was still able to theorize in the s, within the tradition of the Platonic opposition between mimesis and diegesis.
The postdramatic can contain both dramatic and epic elements, naturalistic or theatricalized. The opposition between a modern rejection of theaticality and its postdramatic acceptance is no longer valid: the same staging could be passed from one to the other given the postdramatic principle of heterogeneity.
A comparable duality, which can also be overcome, is that between a realistic style concealing the marks of representation and a theatricalized style accentuating them. A director like Chreau, for example, is able to alternate psychological moments with very theatrical, stylized and intensified heightened ones.
Can we now emerge from the postdramatic?
Is it not going to be very difficult to leap out of its shadow? Will we leave the postdramatic behind only to return to the dramatic? This seems hardly probable! It is good in any event to return in fine to the question implied by the term postdramatic when we consider it literally: what writing, then, what dramaturgy after the dramatic? Thus Kolts has at least partially integrated a stage-specific aesthetic into his writing; this mixture of mimetic authenticity and theatrical artificiality by Chreau, his director, who in his turn knew how to detect this dichotomyone not always perceived by some other directors between and in a piece of writing, making his productions into naturalistic documents on marginalized youth.
This circularity of writing and staging has become increasingly frequent in theatrical production, not only in the devised theatretheatre conceived without a text or script prior to studio improvisationsbut in a conjunction of writing and staging: a playwright like Falk Richter, in his work with Stanislas Nordey, 16 writes something, then quickly stages the text after an immediate translation before rewriting certain passages and giving them back to the translator, then to the director and the actors.
Such a circularity lasts as long as the production conditions and the artists patience allow; it reaffirms the practical and theoretical imbrication of text and play, it encourages us to reflect on all of the mechanisms of staging; it reminds us tangentially that the text that, thirty or forty years ago, might have been called the theatrical text that is no longer dramatic17 has once again become the newly dramatic text allowing us not to have to say postpostdramatic.
Following the period of what Lehmann calls the retreat from representation which is both a retreat from and a phenomena of disaccustoming or severance Entzug der Darstellung; in: Das Posdramatische Theater, , texts have once again begun telling stories without once again becoming well-made plays , representing elements of the real and lending themselves to the effects of character.
This return is not at all a reactionary restoration; it is simply an increased awareness that all human works and all human discourses always 12 recount something. The theatre, certainly the contemporary theatre, is always, according to Sarrazac, rhapsodic. The notion of rhapsody is linked to the domain of the epic: to that of chants and Homeric narration, at the same time that it contains writing processes such as montage, hybridization, patchwork, chorality.
The difference, however, is that the theory of contemporary texts, and above all its mode of analysis, remain to be established. This analytical theory must be integrated into the parameters of the dramatic and of the postdramatic.
Tools such as action, dramaturgy, intrigue, story, and ideology remain pertinent, existing only in order to state their absence or their mutation.
Could PDT stand in the way of the evolution of dramaturgy and writing for the theatre because of its new norms, its new doxa? According to Sarrazac, such a blockage is real, since the postdramatic misunderstood dramatic writing and its intrinsic evolution, which was not subjected to all the risks of the staged.
Sarrazac calls what he wishes for a reaction against the postdramatic; he opposes a reprise: this momentwhich is the opposite of a restorationin which the drama is reconstituting and revivifying itself under the influence of a theatre that has become its own Stranger.
Previously dominated by the text and by logocentrism, this relation, under the sceno-centrism of the postdramatic, finds itself entirely subsumed by the stage and by scenic practice, leaving no chance for the text to be read nor even written by a playwright. This stage writing Tackels , which has become more common, if not dominant, in the theatre of research, coalesces in the PDT like two drops of water.
The idea is that all creation emanates from the stage, out of concrete work with actors in the concrete space and time of the stage. In this sense, this stage writing not a very good name, since it is about neither writing nor the traditional stage! Basically, three kinds of experiencePDT, devised theatre, and stage writingmeet to avoid, if not to liquidate, the tradition of artistic staging founded on the re-readings of plays, most frequently classics. Since the German Stadttheater could not easily renounce the classic 13 repertory demanded by a traditional and petit bourgeois public, it integrated research into the postdramatic by applying it rather mechanically through invited directors or employees of the theatre.
These same powerful, established institutions in Germany and elsewhere, which throughout the s and 80s encouraged the beginnings of the postdramatic, are perhaps now in the process of recuperating, adapting, commercializing, completing and destroying them. The future of theatre probably resides more in systematic subvention in its mode of subsidizing than in the elaboration of new forms, whether dramatic or postdramatic.
Thanks to Lehmanns thoughtful commentary, as well as that of his students and now numerous artists who have spread his thought throughout the world, PDT has had the immense value of formalizing a living, regenerative current in world theatre, though certainly one with all the contradictions and imprecisions of our times, and with a scepticism as cynical as it is despairing toward dogmas of the past and easy promises for the future.
The PDT is far from having given up its secret: not simply style, nor theory, nor method, it is a ploy for moving beyond deadlocked contradictions. Its survival or disappearance depends not at all on a return of the dramatic and a neo-classical dramaturgy, but rather on the strengthening of a writing that has not completely severed its ties with art and dramatic literature.
In the battle of the dramatic and the PD, the dramatic has certainly not said its last word. Theater der Zeit, no. Drama Review, T , University of Chicago Press.
Contemporary Drama in English. Photo: Brian Rogers. Janine Antoni, Yours Truly, Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York. The Getty Research Institute. Susan Foster!
Photo: Jorge Cousineau. Brown improvises movements across a large piece of paper on the Medtronic Gallery floor, holding charcoal and pastel between her fingers and toes, drawing extemporarily. Mixed-media installation with live performance and pre-recorded sound track, dimensions variable.
Courtesy of Lisson Gallery. Courtesy of the artist. Siobhan Davies and Helka Kaski, Manual, Courtesy of Glasgow Life. Photo: Michal Ramus. Steve Paxton, Intravenous Lecture , Performed by Stephen Petronio with Nicholas Sciscione.
Photo: Josh Brasted. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein. Courtesy of the photographer and Pick Up Performance Co s. Hotel Modern, Kamp, Photo: Herman Helle. Performers: Eleanor Hullihan and Nicole Mannarino.
Archival print from original film. Photo: Lydia Grey. Iannis Xenakis, Terretektorh, Distribution of Musicians, Collection famille Xenakis.
Courtesy of the Iannis Xenakis Archives. Lisa Bielawa, Chance Encounter, premiered Co-conceived with Susan Narucki. Photo: Corey Brennan, , Rome. Headlands Center for the Arts. Photo: Maarten Vanden Abeele. Christian Marclay, Chalkboard, , paint and chalk, x 1, inches. Photo: Christian Marclay.
Photo: Cheung Chi Wai. Photo: Chad Kleitsch. David Levine, Habit, Installation view, Luminato Festival, Toronto, Photo: David Levine. Meredith Monk, Shards —73 , Berlin, Bonanza, A documentary project focusing on Bonanza, Colorado, population 7.
Pauline Oliveros, circa The Builders Association, Elements of Oz, Photo: Gennadi Novash. Ain Gordon, A Disaster Begins, Veanne Cox. Here Arts Center, New York. Photo: Jason Gardner. Directed by Elizabeth LeCompte. Tania El Khoury, Jarideh, Photo: Walter Kitundu. Photo: Akiko Ota. Photo: James Block.