Why do actors get stage fright? What is so embarrassing about joining in? Why not work with animals and children, and why is it so hard not to collapse into helpless laughter when things go wrong? In trying to answer these questions - usually ignored by theatre scholarship but of enduring interest to theatre professionals and audiences alike - Nicholas Ridout attempts to explain the relationship between these apparently unwanted and anomalous phenomena and the wider social and political meanings of the modern theatre. This book focuses on the theatrical encounter - those events in which actor and audience come face to face in a strangely compromised and alienated intimacy - arguing that the modern theatre has become a place where we entertain ourselves by experimenting with our feelings about work, social relations and about feelings themselves.
• Addresses issues usually neglected or ignored by theatre scholarship • Offers a full theorization of stage fright, animals on stage, and other anomalies • Uses case studies of work by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Societas Raffaello Sanzio and Forced Entertainment
Part I: 1. From the promise of performance to the return of theatre; 2. Kleist's Uber das Marionettentheater; 3. From an ethics of performance to an affective politics of theatre; Part II. Stage Fright: The Predicament of the Actor: 1. In an 'awful hole'; 2. A very 'modern' hole; 3. Into the hole and out: diagnosis and cure; 4. Abject hole: first 'blowback'; 5. Face your fear; Part III. Embarrassment: The Predicament of the Audience: 1. Please don't look at me; 2. What is embarrassment?; 3. Towards a politics of shame; Part IV. The Animal on Stage: 1. Mouse in the house; 2. Signs of labour; 3. Animal politics; Part V. Mutual Predicaments: Corpsing and Fiasco: 1. Laughter; 2. Corpsing; 3. Fiasco; 4. Forced entertainment; 5. Lyotard on theatre: 'last blowback'; Afterword; Bibliography.
'… an intelligent and likeable study that merely attempts a virtually holistic understanding of theatre in its fullest possible contest.' The Times Literary Supplement
'In the intellectual energy of the connections it makes, and in the purposeful play of its attentive unfolding of the insistently overlooked and repressed within theatre, this volume makes a significant contribution to a growing body of recent and related British scholarship.' Contemporary Theatre Review