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The Resistant Text in Postdramatic Theatre: Performing Elfriede Jelinek's ‘Sprachflächen’

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/2009
JournalPerformance Research
Journal number1
Volume14
Number of pages11
Pages46-56
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article places stagings of theatre texts by Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek in the wider theoretical context of the relationship between text and performance in postdramatic theatre. Countering a widespread misperception that postdramatic theatre is by definition theatre beyond the use of text, the article argues that in Jelinek productions, postdramatic forms of communication arise in response to a challenging new type of theatre text provided by the writer that actively demands new directorial and performative approaches.

After first looking at Jelinek’s longstanding resistance to conventional theatre practice as articulated in her theoretical essays, I explore productions by Thirza Brunken, Einar Schleef and Nicolas Stemann. I argue that Jelinek’s texts act as a resistant force and that productions of her work increasingly acknowledge and openly exhibit the conflict between written text and performance in their dramaturgical approaches.