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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

New Performance/New Writing

Edition 2nd Edition
ISBN 9781137468093
Publication Date May 2016
Formats Ebook Hardcover Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

Contemporary theatre is going through a period of unparalleled excitement and challenge. Terms like 'postmodern' and 'postdramatic' have their own contested and defended histories, while notions of truth in verbatim theatre are open to serious critical challenge. Theatre writing can result in no words being spoken and nothing appearing on the page, and productions are stretching the boundaries of space, place and context like never before.

This revised and significantly expanded edition of New Performance/New Writing explores immersive and solo theatre, autoethnography, applied drama, performance writing, plot, story, narrative and devising. It presents an invaluable response to questions that arise from new theatre, prompting active reading that enhances classroom and workshop learning, and improves productivity in rehearsal.

Each chapter explores a key aspect of theatre study, while an extensive timeline of theatre events gives a broad overview of its evolution. Case studies on practitioners as diverse as Kneehigh, Punchdrunk, Mark Ravenhill and Forced Entertainment are scattered throughout the book, along with detailed suggestions for workshops, which encourage readers to test some of the book's ideas in practice.

John Freeman is Professor of Theatre and Dean of Culture and Language Sciences at the University of St Mark & St John, UK, prior to which he was Head of Theatre at Falmouth University, UK. He has written six books on theatre and numerous articles on the relationship between performance, creative research and education.

21+ Questions for Theatre Makers
Introduction: What this book is, and how to read it
1. Preparing the Ground for Study
2. New Contexts, New Forms, New Voices
Theatre Timeline: 1900 to the Nearly Now
3. Nothing Dates Like the Nearly New: Futurism, Surrealism, Dada and a Century of Change
4. Writing the Modern: Something Old, Something New
5. Writing the Body, Writing the Self
6. Writing the Written, Writing the Group


Provocative in every sense, this text makes a unique and valuable contribution to the inter-related disciplines of theatre, performance and writing. Practitioners and theorists in Contemporary Theatre will be informed and challenged by Freeman's original ideas and analyses which should be required reading for anyone engaged in practice-based research in theatre and performance.' – Jennifer de Reuck, Murdoch University, Australia
'There has still been too little writing and reflection on the difference between a director and a playwright on the one hand, and the obscure profession of theatre-maker on the other, which is why this book is important. One soon forgets that Shakespeare, Molière and Beckett were on the dark side.' – Jan Lauwers, Needcompany, Belgium
'This book facilitates many possibilities of encounter for the reader, layering histories, examples, possibilities and exercises. All invaluable for a consideration of what constitutes contemporary performance now within our pedagogical processes.' – Kira O'Reilly, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland
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