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The Wooster Group and Its Traditions

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Johan Callens

This is the first collection of critical essays to appear about the Wooster Group. Since the 1970s this groundbreaking, New York-based performance company has led the way in crystallizing the conditions of contemporary stage practice at the intersection of several cultural and artistic traditions. As demonstrated by the assembled critics, each of them an authority in the field, these traditions extend into the past as well as into the future, through the Wooster Group’s impact on the latest generation of performance artists. The company’s consequent institutionalization is posited and challenged in the essays constituting Part I of the collection. Part II tackles the work-in-progress, mapping its idiomatic stage vocabulary and providing case studies, ranging from Frank Dell’s The Temptation of St. Antony to To You, The Birdie! (Phèdre). Part III presents productions by kindred artists such as Elevator Repair Service, the Builders Association, Cannon Company, and Richard Maxwell. Lavishly illustrated with photographs, this collection should prove invaluable to anyone with an interest in the current theatrical scene and its place in the wider institutional, artistic, and historical contexts.
Contents: Johan Callens: Introduction. Of Rough Cuts, Voice Masks, and Fugacious Bodies: The Wooster Group in Progress – David Savran: Obeying the Rules – Michael Vanden Heuvel: L.S.D. (Let’s Say Deconstruction!): Narrating Emergence in American Alternative Theatre History – Greg Giesekam: What Is This Dancing? The Pleasures of Performance in the Wooster Group’s Work – Philip Auslander: Task and Vision Revisited: Two Conversations with Willem Dafoe (1984/2002) – Bonnie Marranca: The Wooster Group: A Dictionary of Ideas – Markus Wessendorf: Theatre as an Allegory of Unreadability: The Wooster Group’s The Road to Immortality Part Three, Frank Dell’s The Temptation of St. Antony – Simon Jones: Fugacity: Some Thoughts towards a New Naturalism in Recent Performance – Roger Bechtel: Brutus Jones ’n the Hood: The Wooster Group, the Provincetown Players, and The Emperor Jones (1993) – Gerald Siegmund: Voice Masks: Subjectivity, America, and the Voice in the Theatre of the Wooster Group – Branislav Jakovljević: South Pacific-North Atlantic: From Total War to Total Peace – Ric Knowles: The Wooster Group’s House/Lights – Frédéric Maurin: A Case of Belated Recognition: The Wooster Group in France – Jennifer Parker-Starbuck: Framing the Fragments: The Wooster Group’s Use of Technology – Julie Bleha/Ehren Fordyce: Double Take: Elevator Repair Service’s Highway to Tomorrow and Euripides’ Bacchae – Johan Callens: The Builders Association: S/he Do the Police in Different Voices – Daniel Mufson: The Burden of Irony, the Onus of Cool: The Wooster Group’s Influence on Cannon Company and Richard Maxwell.