In theater studies, the dramatic text tends to be treated as a remnant of an older and even old-fashioned type of theater that has now been replaced by a “post-dramatic” theater, answering only to the logic of performance. Against that view, the article argues for the continuing importance of the dramatic text across different types of theater, including those termed post-dramatic. For what has changed in the case of theater groups such as the Wooster Group that are associated with post-dramatic theater is not that they discard the dramatic text, but rather that they envision a different relation to it. In order to capture the different functions of text in theater, the essay proposes three models and touches on their historical manifestations. The first assumes that the dramatic text dictates theatrical performance; the second, that the dramatic text needs to be supplemented by theatrical performance; and the third, that the text needs to undergo a process of adaptation. This third model is then applied to two case studies, the production by the Wooster Group of Gertrude Stein's Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights and the production by Big Dance Theater of Mac Wellman's Antigone.
Martin Puchner; Drama and Performance: Toward a Theory of Adaptation. Common Knowledge 1 April 2011; 17 (2): 292–305. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-1187986
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