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It is time to change the way we talk about writing in theater. This book offers a new argument that reimagines modern theater's critical power and places innovative writing at the heart of the experimental stage. While performance studies, German Theaterwissenschaft, and even text-based drama studies have commonly envisioned theatrical performance as something that must operate beyond the limits of the textual imagination, this book shows how a series of writers have actively shaped new conceptions of theater's radical potential. Engaging with a range of theorists, including Theodor Adorno, Jarcho reveals a modern tradition of 'negative theatrics,' whose artists undermine the here and now of performance in order to challenge the value and the power of the existing world. This vision emerges through surprising new readings of modernist classics - by Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and Samuel Beckett - as well as contemporary American works by Suzan-Lori Parks, Elevator Repair Service, and Mac Wellman.
Julia Jarcho is an OBIE Award-winning playwright and director with the company Minor Theater. She is Assistant Professor of English at New York University, where she teaches courses in modern drama, modernism, theater studies, critical theory and playwriting. New York productions include The Terrifying (2017), Every Angel is Brutal (2016), Nomads (2014), Grimly Handsome (OBIE Award for Best New American Play, 2013), Dreamless Land (2011) and American Treasure (2009). Her scholarly work has been published in Modern Drama and Critical Inquiry. Her plays have been published in a collection entitled Minor Theater (2016).