Fifty Years Of Ariane Mnouchkine And The Théâtre Du Soleil: The Director As Dramaturge, Theater Historian, And Public Intellectual

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Book Chapter

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Text And Presentation 2014


This essay frames a critical summary of the fifty-year professional history of contemporary French director Ariane Mnouchkine and her company, the Théâtre Du Soleil, with the author's twenty-year-long teaching of a seminar on theater history at Swarthmore College with Mnouchkine's work as the theme. Mnouchkine's theatrical career provides a vehicle for five areas of critical inquiry: Company- or ensemble-based theater-making; the theory and practice of contemporary directing; diverse practices of production dramaturgy; the project of theater history as archive, critical practice, and artistic resource; and the role of the theater artist as public intellectual. The essay presents Mnouchkine and her company as exemplars of "experimental theater" understood as "research and development in the pursuit of best new standard practices" as well as addressing the apparent contradictions of such a misison for a unique theatrical auteur. Transmission of the results of such performance research is addressed through comparative discussion of Mnouchkine's relevance and influence to contemporary American theater practice.

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H. Graley

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