Theatre of the Ridiculous

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"What is Ridiculous? Here's one way to describe it: an anarchic undermining of political, sexual, psychological, and cultural categories, frequently in dramatic structures that parody classical literary forms or re-function American popular entertainments, and always allude to themselves as 'performances.'... It is comedy beyond the absurd because it is less intellectual, more earthy, primal, liberated. Not tragi-comedy but metaphysical burlesque, the Ridiculous offers a new version of the 'clown.' Its dependency on the icons, artifacts, and

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Overview

"What is Ridiculous? Here's one way to describe it: an anarchic undermining of political, sexual, psychological, and cultural categories, frequently in dramatic structures that parody classical literary forms or re-function American popular entertainments, and always allude to themselves as 'performances.'... It is comedy beyond the absurd because it is less intellectual, more earthy, primal, liberated. Not tragi-comedy but metaphysical burlesque, the Ridiculous offers a new version of the 'clown.' Its dependency on the icons, artifacts, and entertainments of mass culture in America -- the 'stars,' old movies, popular songs, television, and advertising -- make the Ridiculous a truly indigenous American approach to making theatre." -- Bonnie Marranca, from Theatre of the Ridiculous

As a theatrical form, the "ridiculous" thrived in the 1970s and early 1980s, playfully subverting dramatic and social convention in its mix of camp, role-playing, literary and filmic allusions -- and anticipating the current interest in gender, cross-dressing, and popular culture. Originally published in 1979, Theatre of the Ridiculous was the first book to document this innovative and challenging work -- and the first of PAJ Publications' acclaimed books on avant garde drama. This revised and expanded edition retains seminal works by Ronald Tavel, Charles Ludlam, and Kenneth Bernard and adds essays and interview material on each of these playwrights. Also new to the edition is Rehearsal for the Destruction of Atlantis by Jack Smith, one of the major figures in the American avant garde, and an essay by J. Hoberman on Smith's work.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
The theater of the ridiculous, which flourished in the 1960s and 70s, is marked by a willfully exaggerated style, parodic intent, and irony laced with the grotesque. This collection features three plays by Jack Smith, Kenneth Bernard, and Ronald Tavel, as well as essays on their theater. It also includes a play by, and interview with, Charles Ludlam. An expanded and revised version of the 1979 edition. Paper edition (unseen), $14.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801856976
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Series: PAJ Books Series
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Bonnie Marranca and Gautam Dasgupta are the co-founders and editors of Performing Arts Journal/PAJ Publications.

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Table of Contents


Contents:

Preface to the New Edition • Introduction to the 1979 Edition • "The Theatre of Jack Smith," essay by J. Hoberman • Rehearsal for the Destruction of Atlantis, by Jack Smith • "The Plays of Ronald Tavel," essay by Bonnie Marranca • The Life of Lady Godiva, by Ronald Tavel • "Theatre and the Ridiculous: A Conversation with Charles Ludlam," interview by Gautam Dasgupta • Stage Blood, by Charles Ludlam • "Kenneth Bernard and John Vaccaro: A Collaboration," essay by Gerald Rabkin • The Magic Show of Dr. Ma-Gico, by Kenneth Bernard

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