What do they know of theatre who only theatre know?
Sunday, 24 April 2011
Word Made Flesh
I’ve often been tempted to talk about leftfield theatre, meaning the kind of drama that goes way beyond the ordinary bog-standard naturalism of contemporary British new writing. But I have rarely investigated what really makes this kind of work (Beckett, Rudkin, Barker, Kane) pulse with life. Now I’m in the middle of reading George Hunka’s precise, philosophical and provocative new book, Word Made Flesh. Fans of his blog will find much that is familiar: deep, passionate and intellectual engagement with the tradition of modernist art, especially as this touches theatre and performance. His brilliantly illuminating account of the complex relationships between the tragic, the erotic and the body is superbly lucid and thoughtful. Often I have disagreed with his statements, but that is the book’s central strength: in a world where easy listening, easy writing and easy theatre hold sway, it’s great to come face to face with the difficult, the obscure and the splendidly disagreeable. George always brings an avant-garde dramatist and director’s sensibility to his questioning of current theatre practice and his elucidation of the work of great theatrical innovators. The result is a real thrill. Buy this book now!
“There’s nothing more terrifying than a teenager with something to say! You mark my words gel, you’ll be running this country! Even if you’re too pig ignorant to see it now!” (Glenda in Clara Brennan’s Spine)
Aleks Sierz is author of In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today (Faber, 2001), The Theatre of Martin Crimp (Methuen Drama, 2006), John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (Continuum, 2008), Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today (Methuen Drama, 2011) and Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s (Methuen Drama, 2012). He is editor of The Methuen Drama Book of 21st Century British Plays (2010) and co-editor (with Martin Middeke and Peter Paul Schnierer) of The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights (2011). He is a member of the UK Critics' Circle and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. A journalist, broadcaster and theatre critic at large, he is also Senior Research Fellow at Rose Bruford College and teaches postwar British theatre at the London branch of Boston University.