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The First Frame
Theatre Space in Enlightenment France


  • Date Published: December 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107437401

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About the Authors
  • In the late eighteenth century, a movement to transform France's theatre architecture united the nation. Playwrights, philosophers, and powerful agents including King Louis XV rejected the modified structures that had housed the plays of Racine and Molière, and debated which playhouse form should support the future of French stagecraft. In The First Frame, Pannill Camp argues that these reforms helped to lay down the theoretical and practical foundations of modern theatre space. Examining dramatic theory, architecture, and philosophy, Camp explores how architects, dramatists, and spectators began to see theatre and scientific experimentation as parallel enterprises. During this period of modernisation, physicists began to cite dramatic theory and adopt theatrical staging techniques, while playwrights sought to reveal observable truths of human nature. Camp goes on to show that these reforms had consequences for the way we understand both modern theatrical aesthetics and the production of scientific knowledge in the present day.

    • Reveals the consequences that French theatre architecture reforms held for modern Western theatre practice
    • Argues that theatre theory and practice had an impact on the early popularisation of experimental science
    • Proposes an original interpretation of the sources and development of neo-classical theatrical aesthetics
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… his innovative approach and finely marshalled erudition make this sophisticated study of great value to those interested in European theatre history.' Thomas Wynn, French Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107437401
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 30 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the 'first frame' of Enlightenment theatre space
    1. The divided scene of theatre space in the Neo-classical era
    2. The theatrical frame in French Neo-classical dramatic theory
    3. Enlightenment spectators and the theatre of experiment
    4. Theatre architecture reform and the spectator as sense function
    5. Optics and stage space in Enlightenment theatre design
    Epilogue: modern spectatorial consciousness
    Appendix: dedicated public theatres built in France, 1752–90.

  • Author

    Pannill Camp, Washington University, St Louis
    Pannill Camp is Assistant Professor of Drama at Washington University, St Louis. His research examines points of intersection between theatre history and the history of philosophy, especially in eighteenth-century France. Before joining the faculty of Washington University, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Humanities Center at Harvard University, Massachusetts and taught in Harvard's Department of the History of Art and Architecture. At Brown University, Rhode Island, he won the Joukowski Family Foundation's Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the Humanities, and the Weston Award for theatre directing. His work has been published in journals including Theatre Journal, Performance Research, the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism.

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