Dark Matter

Dark Matter : Invisibility in Drama, Theater, and Performance

3.66 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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Physicists have discovered that the vast majority of the universe's mass is constituted by what remains transparent. So far, this mysterious "dark matter" can only be traced by its gravitational effects on visible matter. Taking up this analogy, theatre scholar Andrew Sofer outlines a fresh theoretical framework and critical vocabulary for examining the invisible and how it continually structures and focuses an audience's theatrical experience. Sofer argues that we cannot understand theatre and drama without investigating whatever is "not there, yet not not there" on stage. Dark Matter provides an enhanced understanding of theatre's capacity to alter our perceptual field through means beside the visual-to alter others' consciousness at will-and how playwrights and other practitioners have exploited that capacity throughout theatrical history. Sofer discusses black magic in Doctor Faustus; offstage sex in A Midsummer Night's Dream; masked women in The Rover; self-consuming bodies in Suddenly Last Summer; surveillance technology in The Archbishop's Ceiling; and trauma on the contemporary stage. Each discussion pinpoints new and striking facets of drama and performance that escape sight. Taken together, Sofer's lively case studies illuminate how dark matter is woven into the very fabric of theatrical representation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 242 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20.32mm | 544.31g
  • Ann Arbor, United States
  • English
  • 2 B&W illustrations
  • 0472072048
  • 9780472072040

Review quote

Finalist, George Freedley Memorial Award, 2014--George Freedley Memorial Award Honorable Mention, Outstanding Book Award, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, 2014--ATHE Outstanding Book Award "[Dark Matter] provides criticism of the first order - informed, reasoned, careful, and inventive. The book is decisively rich - and especially strong in its poet-critic's sense of analogies between scientific and humanistic study. This publication, albeit daunting in its amazingly vast range, is surely also exciting for that very extensiveness of endeavor."
--;I>Text and Presentation--Jeffrey B. Loomis "Text & Presentation 2014, the Comparative Drama Conf Series) " "Invisible, but exerting a gravitational force on all stage elements, dark matter is more than a textual device; it is 'woven into the fabric of theatrical presentation.' Sofer's book is impeccably researched, with a glossary of terms that invites the reader to explore this methodology beyond the six studies offered here. . . . Initiating his final section with a discussion of a medieval visit to the sepulchre in which Christ's body is revealed to be absent, Sofer compresses his analysis until what is left is dark matter itself."
---;I>Theatre Research International--Dean Wilcox "Theatre Research International " "'Dark matter' is the name that physicists give to material that is irregularly distributed around the visible universe but is itself undetectable. . . . Andrew Sofer's ingenious and somewhat playful book adopts this concept as a metaphor for theatre. It is a good idea: the theatrical significance of the invisible is often over-looked, but a moment's thought confirms how central it is."
--Peter Womack, Theatre Survey--Peter Womack "Theatre Survey " "Andrew Sofer's Dark Matter proves a true tour de force . . . its immense scholarly depth deserves much admiration. . . . supporting research, like the entire volume, provides criticism of the first order--informed, reasoned, careful, and inventive. The book is decisively rich--and especially strong in its poet-critic's sense of analogies between scientific and humanistic studies. This publication, albeit daunting in its amazingly vast range, is surely also exciting for that very extensiveness of endeavor."
--Jeffrey B./I>--Jeffrey B. Loomis "Text and Presentation " "Richly learned and originally poised historicism... Dark Matter provides a savvy lens on what Aristotle called opsis and Shaw 'the optics of the theatre': as an art of appearing, of appearances, of making an appearance, theatre depends on the ideological, and often material, presence of everything that remains in the dark."
--Theatre Journal--W. B. Worthen "Theatre Journal " "Invisibility, Andrew Sofer argues in his complex and compelling Dark Matter, is a structuring principle of theatrical performance. . . . The breadth of Sofer's study is ambitious and invigorating, not simply in the range of case studies, but in the dazzling scope of his archive."
--Modern Drama--Ariel Watson "Modern Drama "
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About Andrew Sofer

Andrew Sofer teaches in the English department at Boston College, USA.
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