Provides a new way of defining—and understanding—postmodern drama


This book examines the theme of memory in a range of plays by contemporary American and European playwrights, including Samuel Beckett, Heiner Müller, Sam Shepard, Adrienne Kennedy, Suzan-Lori Parks, Thomas Bernhard, and Elfriede Jelinek. Jeanette R. Malkin proposes that postmodern drama--that is, drama since the 1970s--can be defined and examined according to the ways it recasts history and engages memories of the past. Details from our cultural and historical past are of course always fundamental elements of literature and theater: the past haunts the stage. But is the past as it is represented on stage actually the true past? In many of the plays examined in Malkin's book, the past is no longer grounded. Instead, it is a past which floats within the collective unconscious, in a place of fragmented collective identity. These plays "remember" in ways parallel to the theories of knowledge that inform them and thus become paradigms for a vision of the world.
Malkin's study seeks answers to questions such as: what are the connections between contemporary drama and processes of memory? How do contemporary aesthetics shape these plays and the memories that they enact? What is remembered and how is the audience targeted? Why is memory so central to so many postmodern theater texts? In answering these questions, Malkin compellingly demonstrates how the past is made present within the double walls of memory and of the theater.
"A very important book that bids to be a 'must have' on the timely topic of history versus memory as it is represented in theater." --John Rouse, University of California, San Diego
Jeanette R. Malkin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.