Acts of Resistance in Late-Modernist Theatre

Writing and Directing in Contemporary Theatre Practice


Author: Richard Murphet
In Acts of Resistance in Late-Modernist Theatre, Richard Murphet presents a close analysis of the theatre practice of two ground-breaking artists – Richard Foreman and Jenny Kemp – active over the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century. In addition, he tracks the development of a form of ‘epileptic’ writing over the course of his own career as writer/director.
Murphet argues that these three auteurs have developed subversive alternatives to the previously dominant forms of dramatic realism in order to re-think the relationship between theatre and reality. They write and direct their own work, and their artistic experimentation is manifest in the tension created between their content and their form. Murphet investigates how the works are made, rather than focusing upon an interpretation of their meaning. Through an examination of these artists, we gain a deeper understanding of a late modernist paradigm shift in theatre practice.

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Richard Murphet completed a Ph.D. (2018) at the University of Melbourne, where he is also an Honorary Lecturer in Performance. In addition to training actors, directors, playwrights and theoreticians and heading the Theatre Department, Murphet has worked as a director and writer in theatre over four decades.
List of Illustrations
 1 The Three Artists: Background and Selection
 2 Rationale for Selection
 3 The Making of Art
 4 Modernism and Theatre
 5 Romantic-modernist Precursor
 6 Late Modernism in Theatre
 7 Form, Politics and Theatre Theory
 8 Chapter Outlines
1  Richard Foreman
 1 Theatre as a Philosophical Endeavour
 2 Foreman’s Early Influences
 3 Phenomena and Ontology Onstage
 4 Molecular Creation: Insistence and Gertrude Stein
 5 Language, Metaphor and Action in Mid-career Plays
 6 Confusion, Enticement and the Spectator
 7 Foreman as Director: The Relationship of Word to Action
 8 Foreman in the Rehearsal Room
 9 Theatre of a Quantum Age
 10 Performers in Foreman’s Theatre: Manic Dancers of the Pattern
2  Jenny Kemp
 1 Early Influences
 2 The Verbal and the Visual
 3 Interweaving Theatrical Modes in The Black Sequin Dress
 4 Language Registers in Call of the Wild
 5 Organisational Strategies in The Black Sequin Dress
 6 The Multi-dimensional Woman in The Black Sequin Dress
 7 Kemp as Visualiser: Storyboards and Paul Delvaux
 8 Kemp as Director: Working with Duration
 9 Complementary Autonomy: Artistic Collaboration
 10 Actors: New Forms of Representation
3  Richard Murphet
 1 Cultural Influences on Subjectivity
 2 Seeking an Epileptic Language: Quick Death
 3 Scenic Writing: Slow Love
 4 The Language of Disintegration: Dolores in the Department Store
 5 Construction of Entanglement: The Inhabited Woman
 6 Writing Invasion: The Inhabited Man
 1 Updating Subjectivity
 2 The Writer/Director
 3 Two Focal Depths: The Something and the Nothing
 4 Resistance within the Practice
Theatre practitioners, students in performance theory and practice, postgraduate scholars of late twentieth-century North American and Australian theatre history, academics with an interest in modernist, late-modernist and postmodernist movements in theatre.