Staging Modernism

Kirsten E. Shepherd‐Barr

in The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199545445
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Staging Modernism

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This article examines the history of modernist theatre. It explains that the theatre underwent a series of astonishing revolutions in the span of a few decades which challenged the role of the actor, the audience, the director, and the designer, and almost everything people thought they knew about the theatre as an art form. One of the paradigmatic shifts in modern drama was the rise of the director, which encouraged more collaborative and cross-cultural enterprises. The article discusses the works of key early modernist theatre directors, including Elizabeth Robins, Edith Craig, and Harley Granville-Barker, who collectively reconceptualized drama and theatre through performance strategies that experimented with how to utilize and deploy the possibilities inherent in an empty space.

Keywords: modernist theatre; theatre director; drama; performance strategies; Elizabeth Robins; Edith Craig; Harley Granville-Barker

Article.  8798 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights) ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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