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Passionate Amateurs

Passionate Amateurs: Theatre, Communism, and Love OPEN ACCESS

Nicholas Ridout
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 216
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    Passionate Amateurs
    Book Description:

    Passionate Amateurs tells a new story about modern theater: the story of a romantic attachment to theater’s potential to produce surprising experiences of human community. It begins with one of the first great plays of modern European theater—Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in Moscow—and then crosses the 20th and 21st centuries to look at how its story plays out in Weimar Republic Berlin, in the Paris of the 1960s, and in a spectrum of contemporary performance in Europe and the United States. This is a work of historical materialist theater scholarship, which combines a materialism grounded in a socialist tradition of cultural studies with some of the insights developed in recent years by theorists of affect, and addresses some fundamental questions about the social function and political potential of theater within modern capitalism.Passionate Amateurs argues that theater in modern capitalism can help us think afresh about notions of work, time, and freedom. Its title concept is a theoretical and historical figure, someone whose work in theater is undertaken within capitalism, but motivated by a love that desires something different. In addition to its theoretical originality, it offers a significant new reading of a major Chekhov play, the most sustained scholarly engagement to date with Benjamin’s “Program for a Proletarian Children’s Theatre," the first major consideration of Godard’s La chinoise as a “theatrical" work, and the first chapter-length discussion of the work of The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, an American company rapidly gaining a profile in the European theater scene. Passionate Amateurs contributes to the development of theater and performance studies in a way that moves beyond debates over the differences between theater and performance in order to tell a powerful, historically grounded story about what theater and performance are for in the modern world.

    eISBN: 978-0-472-90000-8
    Subjects: Performing Arts, History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Prologue (pp. 1-4)

    The Yetis came as a surprise. That they possessed redemptive power was also unexpected. They appeared about half an hour through the perfor mance of B.# 03, the Berlin episode of Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio’sTragedia Endogonidia,presented at the Hebbel Theater in 2003.¹ They were white, hairy, and amiable. They enclosed part of the stage—which had recently been transformed from a murky and cinematic darkness into a field of white—behind a low white picket fence, with the playful enthusiasm of children setting up a camp for the night. They carried flags, some of them white and emblazoned with...

  2. We are sitting in the theatre, and we are worrying about community. We are not alone; much work has already preceded us in thinking about the relationship between our attendance at the theatre and our participation in both the social and the political dimensions of community. In this chap ter my aim is to move between the first of the three terms with which this book announces itself to be concerned—theatre—and the second—communism. Notwithstanding my own leap to a certain understanding of historical communism as part of the scope (or mythical content) of B.# 03, the task...

  3. It’s all over. The Professor and his wife, Yelena, have gone to Kharkov, unable to stand life in the country a moment longer. The Professor fears, perhaps, that Vanya will take another pop at him with the gun. Yelena needs to escape from the potential entanglements arising from her feelings for the Doctor and Vanya’s feelings for her. Feelings we might care to call love. The Doctor, Astrov, has taken a final drink of vodka and returned home, having promised Yelena, for Sonya’s sake, that he will never return. At the end of Chekhov’sUncle Vanya,Sonya and Vanya return...

  4. In the autumn of 1928 the Latvian theatre director Asja Lacis visited Berlin as part of her work for Narkompros, the culture and education department of the government of the Soviet Union.¹ Among her priorities for this visit, undertaken as a member of the film section of the Soviet trade mission, was to make contact, on behalf of the “Proletarian Theatre” group within Narkompros, with the German Union of Proletarian Revolutionary Playwrights. She also gave lectures on film, based on recent work developing a children’s cinema in Moscow. During the course of conversations in Berlin with two leading members of...

  5. The theatre is about to open. Someone is speaking across the end of the opening titles: “Un film en train de se faire.”¹ As the titles give way to the film they authorize—“Visa de contrôle numéro 32862”—the lights, if you like, come up on a forestage, a kind of balcony or terrace, it seems, upon which a young man holding a book is pacing, reading aloud from his book, in front of a set of three windows, all behind shutters that look like they have recently been painted a casual but meaningful red. He does not seem to...

  6. Once upon a time, back in the second decade of neocapitalism, or, as it is now more familiarly known, post-Fordism, a telecommunications mo nopoly, still quite recently released into the private sector, numbered among its subsidiaries a market research company that employed a shifting population of mostly young theatre professionals to conduct tele phone interviews. This arrangement was far from unusual at the time. State-funded university programs in the arts and humanities and vocational training programs at a range of state-accredited drama schools were generating a reliable supply of potential and occasional actors, writers, and directors to carry out such...

  7. The thing about Yetis is that no one knows what they want. They come from nowhere and return there. Not only do they live outside human society, but they are unconstrained by historical time. They are, of course, the productions of a utopian imaginary, mysterious inhabitants of a Shangri-La preserved among snowy peaks against the contaminations of capitalist modernity.¹ So when they intervene onstage in Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio’s B.# 03—setting up picket fences, kissing, performing an act of resurrection—part of their affective charge (their charm, perhaps) arises from a sense that they have no stake in human affairs....

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.
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