Theatre in the Expanded Field is a fiercely original, bold and daring exploration of the fields of theatre and performance studies and the received narratives and histories that underpin them. Rich with interdisciplinary reference, international, eclectic and broad-ranging in its examples, it offers readers a compelling and provocative reassessment of the disciplines, one that spans pre-history to the present day.
Sixty years ago, in 1962, Richard Southern wrote a remarkable book called The Seven Ages of the Theatre. It was unusual in its time for taking a trans-disciplinary, new-historical and avowedly internationalist approach to its subject – nothing less than a totalizing view of its field. Theatre in the Expanded Field does not attempt to mimic Southern’s work but rather takes his spirit of adventure and ambition as its frame for the contemporary moment of performance and its diverse pasts. Identifying seven ways of exploring the performance field, from pre-history to postdramatic theatre the book presents studies of both contemporary and historical works not as a chronological succession, but in keeping with their coeval qualities, as movements or ‘generations’ of connection and interaction, dissensus and interruption. It does this with the same purpose as Richard Southern’s original work: to provide for the planning of responsive performance spaces ‘now’.
Illustrated throughout with line-drawings, Theatre in the Expanded Field is as richly rewarding as it is ambitious and expansive in it vision.