Vol 13 (2000) Theatrical Illusion and the Text

A major issue in theatre research today is the question of postmodernism in relation to premodernism and modernism. Clearly, the basis of much of our understanding of postmodern theatre is inherent in the premodern. I think that premodern theatre can be defined with regard to early romanticism and the emergence of a director’s theatre partly replacing the playwright in production itself.

The playwright is becoming an author. Via retheatricalization and avantgarde movements the conceptual aspect is entering theatre, challenging illusion as something artificial. In a postmodern context illusion has been rediscovered alongside a new sense of the spectacular.

If we are to understand the turn from modern to postmodern theatre, we should question how pictorial effects, tableau traditions, and playful aspects of the baroque theatrical illusion are being used again. We should thus discover how scenic illusion is changing from being symmetric to asymmetric and back to symmetric, both in an historical perspective and in the postmodern theatre itself. In theater history we speak of the turn from classicism to romanticism with symmetric tableaux changing into dioramic, asymmetric. And in the turnover from modern to postmodern theatre, new expressionism brought ta new trend in light design focusing on spotlighting rather than the overall embracing use of light. The expressive play of shadows and contrasting light would be used by such directors as the French André Engel. This was taking place in a postmodern context of theatre of images, but it did not mean that the text disappeared –it was there but on other premises than the classical dramaturgical. Hans-Thies Lehmann’s use of the term “postdramatic” would be appropriate here, as it is largely expounded on in his book Postdramatisches Theater which Elin Nesje Vestli cites in her article. After the culmination of modernism, the postmodern generation of theatre directors would start to experiment with some paradigmatic turns in theatre history, such as in the direction of a new textuality or the use of illusion as something to play with. (Continue reading the preface by Knut Ove Arntzen in NTS vol 13…)


Knut Ove Arntzen
Preface – Theatrical Illusion and the Text. Aspects of New Turns in scenic Spaces from Premodern to Postmodern
Hans-Thies Lehmann
The Performative Presence of the Body/The Terror
Günther Heeg
The Power of Theatrical Magic. On the Occasion of the New Production of Georg Friedrich Händel’s Opera Alcina in Stuttgart
Elin Andersen
The Theatrical Body as Illusion in the Text
Patrick Primavesi
Hamlet – Time
Susanne Winnacker
Time in Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine
Elin Nesje Vestli
Recycled Speech and Theatricality. From Documentary Theatre to Postdramatic Theatre
Andrew Quick
Writing the Real
Hannu Harju
Teatteri Takomo and the Art of Transubstantiation
Ola Johansson
From Stage to Page via the Performative Turn
Kjetil Sandvik
Combining Narrative and Interactivity. Dramaturgy in Computer Games

Brenda Foley
Misogyny and Dependence. The Concentric Paradoxes of Strindberg’s “Flight toward the Rose Chamber” in To Damascus, Part 1
Book Reviews