Meditations on those entities the audience does not see—and their profound significance in the theater
Dark Matter maps the invisible dimension of theater whose effects are felt everywhere in performance. Examining phenomena such as hallucination, offstage character, offstage action, sexuality, masking, technology, and trauma, Andrew Sofer engagingly illuminates the invisible in different periods of postclassical western theater and drama. He reveals how the invisible continually structures and focuses an audience’s theatrical experience, whether it’s black magic in Doctor Faustus, offstage sex in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, masked women in The Rover, self-consuming bodies in Suddenly Last Summer, or surveillance technology in The Archbishop’s Ceiling. Each discussion pinpoints new and striking facets of drama and performance that escape sight. Taken together, Sofer’s lively case studies illuminate how dark matter is woven into the very fabric of theatrical representation. Written in an accessible style and grounded in theater studies but interdisciplinary by design, Dark Matter will appeal to theater and performance scholars, literary critics, students, and theater practitioners, particularly playwrights and directors.
Andrew Sofer teaches in the English department at Boston College. He is the author of The Stage Life of Props and Wave, a collection of poetry.
Finalist, George Freedley Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association- George Freedley Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association
Honorable Mention, Outstanding Book Award, Association for Theatre in Higher Education- The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Outstanding Book Award
"Invisibility, Andrew Sofer argues in his complex and compelling Dark Matter, is a structuring principle of theatrical performance. . . . The breadth of Sofer's study is ambitious and invigorating, not simply in the range of case studies, but in the dazzling scope of his archive."- Ariel Watson
"Richly learned and originally poised historicism... Dark Matter provides a savvy lens on what Aristotle called opsis and Shaw 'the optics of the theatre': as an art of appearing, of appearances, of making an appearance, theatre depends on the ideological, and often material, presence of everything that remains in the dark."- W. B. Worthen
"Andrew Sofer's Dark Matter proves a true tour de force . . . its immense scholarly depth deserves much admiration. . . . supporting research, like the entire volume, provides criticism of the first order—informed, reasoned, careful, and inventive. The book is decisively rich—and especially strong in its poet-critic’s sense of analogies between scientific and humanistic studies. This publication, albeit daunting in its amazingly vast range, is surely also exciting for that very extensiveness of endeavor."- Jeffrey B. Loomis
—Jeffrey B. Loomis, Text and Presentation
“'Dark matter' is the name that physicists give to material that is irregularly distributed around the visible universe but is itself undetectable. . . . Andrew Sofer’s ingenious and somewhat playful book adopts this concept as a metaphor for theatre. It is a good idea: the theatrical significance of the invisible is often over-looked, but a moment’s thought confirms how central it is."- Peter Womack
—Peter Womack, Theatre Survey
"Invisible, but exerting a gravitational force on all stage elements, dark matter is more than a textual device; it is 'woven into the fabric of theatrical presentation.' Sofer's book is impeccably researched, with a glossary of terms that invites the reader to explore this methodology beyond the six studies offered here. . . . Initiating his final section with a discussion of a medieval visit to the sepulchre in which Christ's body is revealed to be absent, Sofer compresses his analysis until what is left is dark matter itself."- Dean Wilcox
---Dean Wilcox, Theatre Research International
"[Dark Matter] provides criticism of the first order - informed, reasoned, careful, and inventive. The book is decisively rich - and especially strong in its poet-critic's sense of analogies between scientific and humanistic study. This publication, albeit daunting in its amazingly vast range, is surely also exciting for that very extensiveness of endeavor."- Jeffrey B. Loomis
--Jeffrey B. Loomis, Northwest Missouri State University, Text and Presentation
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