Katie Mitchell : Beautiful Illogical Acts book cover
1st Edition

Katie Mitchell
Beautiful Illogical Acts

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 30, 2020
ISBN 9781138082366
December 30, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
306 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Katie Mitchell: Beautiful Illogical Acts offers the first comprehensive study of Britain’s most internationally recognised, influential and controversial theatre director. It examines Mitchell’s innovations in fourth-wall realism, opera and Live Cinema across major British and European institutions, bringing three decades of practice vividly to life.  

Informed by first-hand rehearsal observations and in-depth conversations with the director and her collaborators, Fowler investigates the intense and immersive qualities of Mitchell’s distinctive theatrical realism and challenges mainstream narratives about realism as a defunct or inherently conservative genre. He explores Mitchell’s theatre – and its often polarised reception – to question familiar assumptions governing contemporary performance criticism, including common binaries that pit realism against radical experimentation, auteurs against texts, feminists against Naturalism, and Britain against Europe. By examining a career trajectory that intersects with huge cultural change, Fowler places Mitchell at the centre of urgent contemporary debates about cultural transformation and its genuinely inclusive potential. 

This is an essential book for those interested in Katie Mitchell, British theatre, directing, the transformative power of realism and feminism in contemporary theatre practice, and challenges to hierarchical distributions of power inside the mainstream.  

Table of Contents

PART I Staging Classics in the British Mainstream (1989-2011); Foundations I; 1 Out of Place: Mitchell & Early Modern Drama; 2 Flesh and Blood: Mitchell, Chekhov & Immersive Realism; 3 Come and See: Mitchell, Euripides & Ethical Witnessing; PART II The Pivot to Live Cinema (2006-2008); Foundations II; 4 Moments of Being: Live Cinema & the Novel; PART III Adventures in Europe and Avowing Feminism (2008-2019); Foundations III; 5 Watch Me Vanish: Mitchell’s Alternative Feminist (German) Canon; 6 Birch and Crimp: Mitchell’s Collaborations with Living Writers; Conclusion; Appendix: Mitchell’s Production Chronology

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Benjamin Fowler is a lecturer in Drama, Theatre & Performance at the University of Sussex, UK.


"Katie Mitchell: Beautiful Illogical Acts succeeds in the really complex task of building and sustaining a rigorous theorised argument – not only about Mitchell’s work, but also about the nature and potential of realism as a form more broadly – while also offering detailed analysis of the material context of Mitchell’s practice (including critical reception); the key influences on her practice; and detailed analysis of key performances to demonstrate how both material context and key influences have played their part in her innovations in realism." - Professor Liz Tomlin, University of Glasgow


"Fowler’s book is a game-changer. Packed with rich detail gleaned from years of first-hand research, avowedly feminist, and gorgeously written, Katie Mitchell: Beautiful Illogical Acts reshapes our understanding of the foremost British theatre artist of our time. Essential, urgent reading." - Professor Kim Solga, Western University