Documentary Vanguards in Modern Theatre: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Documentary Vanguards in Modern Theatre

1st Edition

By Timothy Youker


218 pages

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Hardback: 9781138081000
pub: 2017-11-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315113081
pub: 2017-11-13
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Practitioners and critics alike often attribute great authenticity to documentary theatre, casting it as a salutary alternative not only to corporate news outlets and official histories but also to the supposed "self-indulgence" and "elitism" of avant-garde theatre.

Documentary Vanguards in Modern Theatre, by contrast, argues for treating documentarians as vanguardists who (for good or ill) push, remap, or transgress the margins of historical and political visibility, often taking issue with professional discourses that claim a monopoly on authoritative representations of the real. This is the first book to situate documentary theatre’s development within the larger story of theatrical experimentalism, collage art, collective ritual, and other avant-garde dramaturgical and performance practices of the late 19th and 20th Centuries.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


Part One: Sordid Actuality (1835-1922)

1 Georg Büchner and the Breakdown of the History Play

2 Embarrassing Relatives: Naturalism, True Crime, and Bohemian Memory

3 Karl Kraus’s Cannibal Satire and Pedagogies of Reception

Part Two: Vanguards of Revolution and Reform (1917-1984)

4 The Documentary and Communist Vanguards

5 Midcentury Documentaries: For and Against Liberalism

6 Activist Endings and Optative Documentaries

Part Three: Documentary Theatre after Postmodernism (1977- )

7 The Wooster Group and Anna Deavere Smith: Parallax, Play, and Collage Ethics

8 Handspring Puppet Company: Reconciling with the Avant-Garde

9 Too Much Information

Conclusion: "This Is Not a Story about Failure"


About the Author

Timothy Youker holds a PhD in Theatre from Columbia University. He has taught Theatre and Drama at Columbia and at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and was most recently appointed as an Assistant Professor of English and Drama at the University of Toronto, Mississauga.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Considering theatre and performance alongside topics such as religion, politics, gender, race, ecology, and the avant-garde, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism