Postmodern theatric(k)s: monologue in contemporary American drama
Postmodern Theatric(k)s focuses on the voices that have emerged from American experimental theater of the 1960s, voices shaped by the culture of television, film, Pop Art, and rock music. Increasingly, these writers have brought a distinctly new approach to the use of monologue. Deborah Geis argues that in place of the psychological revelation of the Shakespearean soliloquy, these postmodern monologues play "tricks" by altering, suspending, or rupturing the narrative "progress" of a play. Character development through monologue is replaced by parody, theatricality, and "con" games. For some recent performance artists, the notion of character itself explodes, as monologue permits the performer to play at blurring the fictional and the autobiographical.
The author begins by tracing the changing role of monologue from classical drama through the early modernists; she also pinpoints the connections between the off-Off- Broadway theater of the sixties and new uses of monologue. The focus then turns to several key American playwrights, including Sam Shepard and David Mamet. Geis shows how monologue, as a technique for giving voice to previously silenced speakers, has played a crucial role in works by feminist and African-American dramatists like Maria Irene Fornes and Ntozake Shange. The author closes with an examination of the works of Spalding Gray and Karen Finley, two performance artists whose monologues display unique efforts at boundary-crossing.
As the first study of its kind on monologue in theatrical narrative and as a discussion of recent American playwrights from a comparative critical perspective, Postmodern Theatric(k)s will be of interest to specialists in dramatic theory and criticism, specialists in performance studies, and theater practitioners. The volume will also appeal to readers interested in literary theory, cultural studies, feminism, and performance art.
Deborah Geis is Assistant Professor of English, Queens College, City University of New York.
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