Examining the development of avant garde theatre from its inception in the 1890s right up to the present day, Christopher Innes exposes a central paradox of modern theatre; that the motivating force of theatrical experimentation is primitivism. What links the work of Strindberg, Artaud, Brook and Mnouchkine is an idealisation of the elemental and a desire to find ritual in archaic traditions. This widespread primitivism is the key to understanding both the political and aesthetic aspects of modern theatre and provides fresh insights into contemporary social trends.
The original text, first published in 1981 as Holy Theatre, has been fully revised and up-dated to take account of the most recent theoretical developments in anthropology, critical theory and psychotherapy. New sections on Heiner Muller, Robert Wilson, Eugenio Barba, Ariane Mnouchkine and Sam Shepard have been added. As a result, the book now deals with all the major avant garde theatre practitioners, in Europe and North America.
Avant Garde Theatre will be essential reading for anyone attempting to understand contemporary drama.