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PAR: Julie Vatain-Corfdir (ed.), « American Dramaturgies for the 21st Century », SUP

American Dramaturgies for the 21st Century

Julie Vatain-Corfdir (ed.), collection numérique « e-Theatrum Mundi », vol. V

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If all the world is a stage, the stage of the 21st century must be a site of remarkable anxiety—at once global and splintered, intensely up-front and relentlessly mediatized, ever fragmenting the collective and seeking to build it anew. How can theater, an art of intimate presence, rethink its aesthetics and reassert its mission on such a stage? More specifically, how have American dramaturgies chosen to engage with our new millennium? Relying on a broad understanding of “dramaturgy” as a dynamic process, this book explores some of the inspiring trends and arresting innovations of contemporary theater in the US, investigating both playwriting and performance-making in order to delineate formal experiments, the imprint of socio-political themes, and new configurations in spectatorship.

The chapters of the present volume delve into various aspects of theater-making, from courses in playwriting to controversies in casting or discussions about the democratic function of theater. The wide range of examples studied include development practices at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the work of experimental companies (Ping Chong + Company, The Industry, New York City Players), and many plays by contemporary authors (Clare Barron, Jackie Sibblies Drury, David Levine, Charles Mee, Dominique Morisseau, Sarah Ruhl, Andrew Schneider, Paula Vogel, Mac Wellman). Conversations with Young Jean Lee and Richard Maxwell add the playwright’s viewpoint to the prismatic perspective of the volume, which is dedicated to performances in the US but written from a decidedly international angle, thus implicitly querying what makes up the American identity of this rich body of work.


 Table of contents :

Foreword Julie Vatain-Corfdir


  1. Realism deposed, reclaimed and exposed

“No Adjectives: New American Realism” Marc Robinson

“From Gertrude Stein to Richard Maxwell: Language, Performativity and Sensuousness in 21st-Century American Dramaturgy” Avra Sidiropoulou

“‘Plays as Sculptures’: Richard Maxwell’s Dramaturgy or the Art of Inventing New Shapes” Richard Maxwell and Emeline Jouve

“On Sarah Ruhl’s Transformative Theatre of Lightness” Ana Fernàndez-Caparrós,


  1. Page, stage and gaze reconfigured

“‘Fulfill Your Obligations to Yourself Aesthetically’: Young Jean Lee on Experimental Theater and Teaching Playwriting” Young Jean Lee and Julie Vatain-Corfdir

“Investigating the Role of the Dramaturg at the National Playwrights Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center” Mary Davies

“The Industry: Operas for the 21st Century” Antonia Rigaud

“Metamodern aesthetics of selfieness and surveillance in YOUARENOWHERE and I’ll Never Love Again Emma Willis

“‘Blond, Blue-eyed Boy’ Turned ‘Dark and Dusky’: Why Can’t Edward Albee’s Nick be black?” Valentine Vasak


III. The pursuit of community

“On Neoclassicism: Theatrocracy, the 1%, and the Democratic Paradox” Pierre Monot

“Producing community: a process-oriented analysis of Ping Chong + Company’s Undesirable Elements: Generation NYZ (2018)” Diana Benea

Indecent: Challenging Narratives of the American Dream through Collaborative Creation and the Use of Memory as a Dramaturgical Device” Sarah Sigal

Detroit ’67: Dramaturgy at the Intersection of the Theatrical Sphere and the Socio-Political Sphere” Mary Anderson, Billicia Hines and Richard Haley