1st Edition

Dramaturgy of Form Performing Verse in Contemporary Theatre

By Kasia Lech Copyright 2021
    138 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    138 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Dramaturgy of Form examines verse in twenty-first-century theatre practice across different languages, cultures, and media. Through interdisciplinary engagement, Kasia Lech offers a new method for verse analysis in the performance context.

    The book traces the dramaturgical operation of verse in new writings, musicals, devised performances, multilingual dramas, Hip Hop theatre, films, digital projects, and gig theatre, as well as translations and adaptations of classics and new theatre forms created by Irish, Spanish, Nigerian, Polish, American, Canadian, Australian, British, Russian, and multinational artists. Their verse dramaturgies explore timely issues such as global identities, agency and precarity, global and local politics, and generational and class stories. The development of dramaturgy is discussed with the focus turning to the new stylized approach to theatre, whose arrival Hans-Thies Lehmann foretold in his Postdramatic Theatre, documenting a turning point for contemporary Western theatre.

    Serving theatre-makers, scholars, and students working with classical and contemporary verse and poetry in performance contexts; practitioners and academics of aural and oral dramaturgies; voice and verse-speaking coaches; and actors seeking the creative opportunities that verse offers, Dramaturgy of Form reveals verse as a tool for innovation and transformation that is at the forefront of contemporary practices and experiences.

    Introduction; Chapter 1: Heteroglossia of Verse and Its Dramaturgical Potential; Chapter 2: Verse in Translation and Adaptation; Chapter 3: (No-longer) Ibsen’s "Language of the Gods": Verse and Marginalized Voices; Chapter 4: Verse and New Theatre Forms; Bibliography


    Kasia Lech is Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her research and creative practice explore theatre through practice-based and traditional scholarship and primarily focus on verse, multilingualism, translation, and transnational experience.

    "Kasia Lech has written a subtle, substantial, alert analysis of the practice and power of verse in Contemporary Theatre. Her deep, wide, impressive scope of reference displays her command of relevant methodology, underlining the centrality of poetry in much of the most innovative drama now being created on world stages. Lech is most skilled and sensitive in deciphering linguistic games and guile stretching the art of playwriting to its furthest, breathtaking extremes. Her book is the work of an outstanding critic." – Frank McGuinness, University College Dublin

    "Lech’s scholarship is a fascinating (and much needed) conversation about the intersections of dialogic language (specifically verse speech patterns and its aural effects) and dramaturgy in meaning-making.  In exploring a sense of verse that mostly focuses on verse patterns common in Poland, Ireland, and the UK, but bringing in artists from around the globe, Lech’s deep dive into these theoretical and practical waters will help spawn global conversations about language, verse patterns, and their political and social resonances with audiences for years to come." - Martine Kei Green-Rogers, SUNY New Paltz

    "Adopting a performative rather than literary perspective, Kasia Lech makes us rethink the potential of the oral and aural dramaturgies of verse within our global contemporary. She persuasively shows how – far from being the pinnacle of white, male elitist culture – the quintessentially dialogic nature and multi-voiced humanness of the stylized metric form may in fact turn it into a powerful instrument to counter the egocentric ideology of individual singularity, as it affords artistic as well as political agency to silenced, precarious voices from the margins, not least those speaking in second, foreign languages. The links her detailed analysis opens up between Greek and Shakespearean tragedy and the contemporary spoken word art of Hip Hop, the rhymes of Hamilton and the postdramatic chorus, will help a young, multimedia-savvy generation (and their teachers) to unlock anew this radical force of the verse." - Peter M. Boenisch, Aarhus Universitet

    "A work of impressive depth and originality which sensitises its readership to the formal and societal practice and to the experience of verse in performance contexts." - Lauren Clark, Irish University Review

    "Of great value for not only its ideas and content, but also for paving a path to open up, often ethnocentric and closed-mind, scholarship to other cultures and languages than English" - David Livingstone, Litteraria Pragensia

    "The old/new art that Lech is at such pains to describe is one that intentionally deconstructs familiar theatrical forms to create an artistic continuum. As such, it is part of an important ongoing conversation among the spectacular range of voices from the multiverse in which we now live." - Patricia Keeney, Toronto’s York University