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Theatre History (Part 3)

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"Ism"   ::   Berthold Brecht   ::   Postmodernism   ::   Activities


Because postmodernism is multi-faceted in its philosophies, postmodern theatre tends to be multi-faceted in its delivery. A postmodernist play, for example, may have multi-media. There may be multiple things that go on at the same time, so you as an audience member may not know where to focus. "That's swell" say the postmodernists, "That's okay! Just experience the theatre! Let the images of theatre wash over you as does a summer breeze."

This is a good time for a pomo romp: Why Keep Talking About Art? : a bizarre and fun postmodern site.

Here's another: Check out this postmodern interactive web "performance" by artist Jody Zellen: entitled Random Paths . It is a good example of postmodern art. Pretty groovy too.

To get a better feel for this, imagine yourself at an amusement park. Imagine this experience as a performance. Where is the climax? What should you be looking at? No one is there to tell you where to look at all times. Instead, images compete for your attention. Your background and the person you are will influence you to look in certain directions and focus on certain things. There are theatre productions like this. Take a look at this photograph from a Utah State University production of The Boy Who Drew Cats.

What do you look at with so many performers dancing and posing and twirling umbrellas and waving flags? This was not a postmodern play, but this is a postmodern device used at this time in the play. The directer, Lynda Linford, simply wants you as an audience to let the images "wash over you." You'll end up focusing on what you want to focus on because of who you are, or maybe something will catch your eye and will change you as a person. Who knows?

Let's return for a moment to The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco. You should have read this for a previous lesson. In this play, Ionesco uses words and phrases like Lynda Linford used visual images in The Boy Who Drew Cats . Ionesco wants you to let the vocal images wash over you. In the end, the culminating effect will all add up to the fact that we just don't communicate with one another like we should. At least that's one of the themes.


How do you think postmodernists feel about Aristotle and his six elements of theatre? Write a short paragraph defending your answer.

Further Research:

Martin Irvines Provocative Pomo site (Approaches to Postmodernism)

Hyper X Online Gallery: for more really cool pomo web stuff!

Fuzzy Dreamz by Dr. Hugo : a pomo romp through weirdness. (And thanks to Dr. Hugo for the use of his I Love/Hate You images).

This is the end of the workshop, please see activity summary .

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 10). Theatre History (Part 3). Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License