Modernist drama / postmodernist performance : the case of Samuel Beckett

Part of : Γράμμα : περιοδικό θεωρίας και κριτικής ; Vol.2, No.1, 1994, pages 171-185

The work of Samuel Beckett is seen by many critics to combine both the avant-garde tradition in theatrical practice and the more recent postmodern notions of performance. This study examines how the transition between the historical avant-garde (modernism) and postmodern schools of performance is enacted in the work of Beckett. The "waning of effect," the gradual processes of appropriation and commodification, and aspects of depoliticisation — all characteristics of the postmodern artefact — are studied in relation to Beckett ’ s later plays and in contrast to his earlier ones. By applying Bakhtinian notions of cultural critique this study examines the conceptualisation and presentation of the human form. It draws parallels, more apparent in the earlier works, between the Beckettian body and the traditions of the grotesque. Through the examination of the human form and the relationship of the performance to its sometimes notional audience, this study tries to focus on the processes involved as the work of Beckett shifts from the avant-garde modernist tradition into an all encompassing postmodernism.
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