A poetics of reform. Creative mass experiences in early 20th-century German and French theatre

Een po√ętica van 'hervorming': creatieve massa ervaringen in het vroege 20e-eeuwse Duitse en Franse theater
Start - End 
2015 - 2016 (ongoing)

Tabgroup

Abstract

In the first half of the 20th century, German and French dramatists like Oskar Kokoschka, WalterHasenclever, Jean Anouilh and Jean Giraudoux experimented with the performance of ritualizedmass experiences, not only on stage, but also in the audience. Both in the performances and intheoretical concerns these playwrights referred to and even explicitly adapted social conditionsand spatial arrangements in ancient drama and religious practices in order to give form to massrepresentations in early 20th-century theatre performances.Whereas masses are commonly depicted as 'irrational' and 'destructive' phenomena,overwhelming the 'creativity' of the 'rational' individual, recent sociological and psychologicalinsights in crowd behavior demonstrated that participation in masses is clearly structured andcontrolled in space and time and discloses individual responsibility. Recent scholarly work inTheatre Studies and Classical Reception Studies, however, still generally considers early 20thcenturymass representations in terms of violence and mobilization in ideological movements.Taking up the insight that mass experiences have to be considered in more constructive contexts, Iwill argue for a new way of understanding early 20th-century innovative theatre movementswhose adaptations of ancient dramatic forms rooted in reformatory social and religiousaspirations.