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!

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