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The Dramatic Society

Book - Book

Subtitle:A political history of culture
The book is an advanced study of intertwinements between politics and performance, resulting in a rather comprehensive history of (western) culture. It contains fourteen chapters, preceded by an introduction of the philosophical tools used to approach drama and performance as ‘symptoms’ of profound disruptions in Western societies, since the Athenian polis and ancient Greek tragedy. The first 7 chapters deal will Sophocles (Antigone) and Euripides (Medea), with William Shakespeare (Richard II and As You Like It), John Wilmot (A Satyr against Mankind), Denis Diderot (Paradoxe sur le Comédien) and Georg Büchner (Dantons Tod), the next 7 chapters talk about Bertolt Brecht (Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui), Groupov and Milo Rau (Rwanda 1994 and Hate Radio, theatre about the genocide in Rwanda), Christoph Schlingensief (his German trilogy in film), Thomas Bellinck (Domo de Eŭropa Historio en Ekzilo), Manu Riche/Ai Weiwei (Trial about Fake), Laila Soliman (her work after the Arab Spring), Chokri Ben Chikha (De Waarheidscommissie). These texts and performances are always an opportunity to describe the larger societal and cultural context in which they functioned, but they also lead to contemporary (political) interpretations of those works: Medea triggers reflections about the essence of terrorism, Diderot’s Paradoxe opens a discussion about the nature of political representation. This results in a continued effort to move, discursively, from concrete theatrical events – with their historical or personal singularities – to more general or abstract assessments about the political and legal foundations of a given societal order. So ‘dramatization’ and ‘theatricality’ become keywords denoting social and political change, and not merely the conspicuous spectacularism by which certain regimes affirm their pretended legitimacy.
Number of pages: 360
Publication year:2019
Keywords:theatre, performance, history of culture, political theory