The Death of Character

The Death of Character : Perspectives on Theater after Modernism

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Extremely well written, and exceedingly well informed, this is a work that opens a variety of important questions in sophisticated and theoretically nuanced ways. It is hard to imagine a better tour guide than Fuchs for a trip through the last thirty years of, as she puts it, what we used to call the `avant-garde.'" -Essays in Theatre... an insightful set of theoretical `takes' on how to think about theatre before and theatre after modernism." -Theatre JournalIn short, for those who never experienced a `postmodern swoon,' Elinor Fuchs is an excellent informant." -Performing Arts Journal... a thoughtful, highly readable contribution to the evolving literature on theatre and postmodernism." -Modern DramaA work of bold theoretical ambition and exceptional critical intelligence.... Fuchs combines mastery of contemporary cultural theory with a long and full participation in American theater culture: the result is a long-needed, long-awaited elaboration of a new theatrical paradigm." -Una Chaudhuri, New York UniversityWhat makes this book exceptional is Fuchs' acute rehearsal of the stranger unnerving events of the last generation that have-in the cross-reflections of theory-determined our thinking about theater. She seems to have seen and absorbed them all." -Herbert Blau, Center for Twentieth Century Studies, University of Wisconsin, MilwaukeeSurveying the extraordinary scene of the postmodern American theater, Fuchs boldly frames key issues of subjectivity and performance with the keenest of critical eyes for the compelling image and the telling gesture." -Joseph Roach, Tulane University... Fuchs makes an exceptionally lucid and eloquent case for the value and contradictions in postmodern theater." -Alice Rayner, Stanford UniversityArguably the most accessible yet learned road map to what remains for many impenetrable obligatory addition to all academic libraries serving upper-division undertgraduashow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 15.24mm | 362.87g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0253210089
  • 9780253210081
  • 363,028

Back cover copy

In this engrossing study, Elinor Fuchs explores the multiple worlds of theater after modernism. She begins with the decline of character, once the central link between the artist and the spectator. In theatrical modernism Fuchs sees a series of strategies to compensate for this decline. Postmodern theater no longer greets the demotion of character with anxiety, despair, or satisfaction--as in Pirandello, Beckett, or Brecht--but puts in its stead a multiple subject, a protean spectator, and a dispersed field of more

Review quote

Treating theater as a crucial mediating term between the heterogeneous fullness of life and the clarifying abstractions of theory and as a grounding principle in a period of conflicting or dissolving truths, Fuchs (Yale and Columbia) demonstrates in this sage and sane examination of postmodern theater (especially in the US) why she is one of the most astute observers of the contemporary scene. As a critic she brings to this perceptive, dense study not only insights of sheer brilliance but historical perspective (including samplings of her own reviews and articles, 1979-93) and contextual overview rare in contemporary critical writing. Although clearly supportive of trends challenging more traditional approaches in theater, she remains objective and balanced throughout. She provides illuminating analyses of work by such artists as Richard Foreman, Robert Wilson, Meredith Monk, Reza Abdoh, Elizabeth LeCompte, and Suzan-Lori Parks, among others, and such influential theorists as Jacques Derrida. Arguably the most accessible yet learned road map to what remains for many impenetrable territory, Fuchs' book, heavily theoretical but constantly anchored to specific performances, is an obligatory addition to all academic libraries serving upper-division undergraduates and abovD. B. Wilmeth, Brown University, Choice, December 1996show more

About Elinor Fuchs

ELINOR FUCHS, a New York theater critic noted for her writing on contemporary experimental theater, is on the faculty of the School of the Arts at Columbia University and is Lecturer at the Yale School of Drama. She has also taught at Harvard University, New York University, and Emory University. She is editor of Plays of the Holocaust: An International Anthology, and co-author (with Joyce Antler) of the documentary play Year One of the Empire. Her essays have appeared in such publications as American Theatre, The Drama Review, Modern Drama, Theater, and Performing Arts Journal. She has been a contributor to The Village Voice since more

Table of contents

IntroductionPart I: Modern Retrospect1. Character: Its Rise and Fall2. The Mysterium and the Re-Allegorization of Modern Drama3. Reading Against the GrainPart II: Theater After Modernism4. Signalling Through the Signs: Thinking Theater After Derrida5. Play as Landscape: Another Version of Pastoral6. Staging the Obscene Body7. Theater as Shopping8. Postmodernism and the "Scene" of TheaterReviews and Articles 1979-1993: Accounts of an Emerging Aesthetic 1979 Des McAnuff's Leave it to Beaver is Dead Richard Schechner's The Balcony 1982 Andrei Serban's The Marriage of Figaro 1983 The Death of Character 1985 Peter Sellars's The Count of Monte Cristo 1986 Robert Wilson's Alcestis 1988 Elizabeth LeCompte and The Wooster Group's Frank Dell's The Temptation of Saint Antony 1989 Misunderstanding Postmodernism: Joanne Akalaitis's Cymbeline 1993 The AIDS Quilt and The Performance of Mourningshow more

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23 ratings
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3 13% (3)
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