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Theatre of Estrangement

Theatre of Estrangement: Theory, Practice, Ideology

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    Theatre of Estrangement
    Book Description:

    Drawing from a variety of sources she demonstrates that theatrical estrangement is not only an abstract theoretical postulate, but also a practical artistic strategy shaped by the cultural and historical climate.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8258-0
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    In Harun Farocki’s filmImages of the World and the Inscription of War(1989), spectators assume that archival aerial photographs taken by American pilots in 1944 document a factory complex in Poland. It was not until 1977 that two CIA officers recognized the rows of barracks, the crematoria, and the long lines of blurry figures in the snow for what they really were – images of Auschwitz. Through a simple shift in context or angle an image can reveal itself in a surprising, sometimes horrific, new light. What we see depends on how we see it.

    In theatre, one of...

  5. 1 The Knight’s Move: From Theory to Theatre
    (pp. 8-41)

    To explain the dynamics of literary history, Viktor Shklovsky uses the chess metaphor of the knight’s move (khod konia), claiming that literary succession is not a linear development ‘from father to son, but from uncle to nephew.’ I am borrowing this trope to further explain the network – or rather Borghesian labyrinth – of influences that connects critical, literary, and theatrical concepts of estrangement within the culture of the historical avant-garde. The knight’s move applies to the development of the estrangement concept in Russian formalist avant-garde, in the work of Vsevolod Meyerhold, and in the theory and theatre of Bertolt...

  6. 2 Some Old Photos: Russian Formalism in Russian Avant-garde Theatre
    (pp. 42-91)

    A few preserved photos from the early 1920s depict Victor Shklovsky, his lover Elsa Triollet, Lylia Brik, the wife of formalist Osip Brik and the love of the futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Mayakovsky himself.¹ In the centre of one of the photos are Shklovsky and Mayakovsky sitting back to back on the sand in bathing suits. This position – back to back, arm to arm – is a visual metaphor that describes almost literally the relationship between Russian formalism and the avant-garde. Shklovsky wrote about his friend, Mayakovsky. Avant-garde director Vsevolod Meyerhold staged Mayakovsky’s plays. Shklovsky and Meyerhold both...

  7. 3 Epic Theatre in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
    (pp. 92-117)

    New technological possibilities gave way to new dramaturgical and mise en scène solutions, through which both the methods of representation and the represented events were defamiliarized. Technical innovations and their impact on socio-political reality is a theme in the writing of the expressionists, futurists, Bertolt Brecht, Karl Čapek, and in Fritz Lang’s film classicMetropolis, to mention a few. The advance of technology was viewed as both scary and fascinating in opening possibilities for new experiences in art and life. Performances of Bauhaus and the experiments of futurists and Dadaists explored different ways of merging the body and the machine....

  8. 4 In the Hands of Angelus Novus: Form and Ideology
    (pp. 118-153)

    The notion of making the familiar strange has two components that are often very tightly interwoven: the aesthetic (or technical), which in the case of theatre focuses on dramaturgical methods and mise en scène solutions, and the ethical (ideological, philosophical, sociological, political, didactic). Hansen-Löve finds the roots of the technical side of estrangement to be in Aristotle’s ‘formalism,’ which he links to Shklovsky, while the ethical paradigm is rooted in Socrates’ didactic methodology (19–33). The ethical aspect concerns the meaning generated through the estrangement techniques. Brecht’s concept ofVerfremdungand epic theatre is reputed to emphasize this ethical dimension,...

  9. Afterword: Retro Estrangement
    (pp. 154-158)

    Although the notion of making the familiar strange has taken different shapes and features in different periods and contexts, it has always been tied to a quest for novelty as a means of rejuvenating both artistic production and reception. Artists continue to introduce (or rather reintroduce) defamiliarization as a device that brings about an ‘effect of daring innovation,’ while in fact it is based not on new aesthetic inventions, but on the revival of old ones. Since this concept can be traced from Aristotle and Horace to Hegel and Marx, it becomes clear that in the twentieth century it is...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 159-166)
  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 167-176)
  12. Index
    (pp. 177-182)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 183-183)