A panoramic view of how we think about life and the imitation of life on stage

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“Herbert Blau’s long sustained inquiry into theater’s most provocative questions—presence, liveness, and finitude—are, at their deepest level, queries into life. Reality Principles returns us to Blau’s inspiring provocations and extends them to new subjects—9/11 and Ground Zero, the nature of charisma, Pirandello and Strindberg.”
—Peggy Phelan, Stanford University

Reality Principles gathers recent essays by esteemed scholar and theater practitioner Herbert Blau covering a range of topics.  The book’s provocative essays—including “The Emotional Memory of Directing,” “The Faith-Based Initiative of the Theater of the Absurd,” “Virtually Yours: Presence, Liveness, Lessness,” “The Human Nature of the Bot”—were given as keynotes and/or memorial lectures and are collected here for the first time. The essays take up a remarkable array of topics—from body art and the self-inflicted punishments of Stelarc, Orlan, and the Viennese Actionists, to Ground Zero and 9/11—and allow Blau to address critical questions of theater and theory, performance and relevance, the absurd and the virtual, history and illusion, community and memory. Reality Principles offers a panoramic view of Herbert Blau’s perspectives on life and the imitation of life on stage.

Herbert Blau is Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor in the Humanities at the University of Washington and author of many influential and prize-winning books, including Blooded Thought: Occasions of Theater, Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point, and Sails of the Herring Fleet: Essays on Beckett.