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Alchemies of Theater

Plays, Scores, Writings

Subjects: Theater and Performance, Art, Art History, Literary Studies, American Literature
Paperback : 9780472056781, 214 pages, 22 illustrations, 6 x 9, July 2024
Hardcover : 9780472076789, 214 pages, 22 illustrations, 6 x 9, July 2024
Ebook : 9780472221691, 214 pages, 22 illustrations, 6 x 9, July 2024
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 Illuminating the extensive contributions of Dick Higgins to theater


In addition to his work as visual artist, publisher, poet, and composer, Dick Higgins (1938–98) was also a genuine man of the theater. A founder of Fluxus, he was a major figure in artistic communities in downtown New York City, across Europe, and in Japan. Yet as important as Higgins’s work has been to historians of the American avant-garde, relatively little attention has been paid to his radical theatrical vision. 

Alchemies of Theater brings together a broad selection of Higgins’s writings and theater-related work, much of it unpublished or long out of print, including plays and performance scores, drawings, and writings on theater and performance. As this book demonstrates, Higgins deconstructed the drama long before it became a project of theater; undercut the traditional roles of author and director; created what is now considered “devised” theater; pioneered the use of media in theater, writing the first electronic opera; and was a precursor in deconstruction and  “postdramatic” avant-garde traditions. His Intermedia manifesto offered a sweeping view of interdisciplinarity—in effect, a new arts ecology.

Dick Higgins (1938–98) was a visual artist, publisher, poet, composer, and playwright. He founded the highly influential Something Else Press, and wrote more than three dozen books.
Editor Bonnie Marranca is editor and publisher of PAJ Publications/PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, and the author of four volumes of writings on the arts and several edited collections of plays, essays, and interviews. She is Professor Emerita of Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School.

“Dick Higgins was many things: dedicated avant-gardist, co-founder of Fluxus, theorist and critic, publisher, and cultural entrepreneur. With this collection of Higgins’s plays, performance scores, and essays, Bonnie Marranca reminds us of Higgins’s protean talents and makes a strong case that he should also be seen as a man of the theater.”

- Philip Auslander, Georgia Institute of Technology

“A thrilling recovery, and now indispensable resource. Dick Higgins’s restless, omnivorous theatricality—filling the stage with ‘all the aspects . . . which drama might assume’—forces us, happily, to rethink performance history and rewrite definitions of dramatic form. One of his instructions to actors says it best: the scenarios, blueprints, collages, and lists collected here ‘express ecstasy.’”

- Marc Robinson, Yale University