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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the ‘aesthetics of catastrophe’ that informs the stage experiments of the period, epitomized by Edward Gordon Craig’s essay-manifesto of 1909, ‘The Actor and the Übermarionette’, one of many anti-theatrical tracts of early modernist theatre whose aim, paradoxically, was to ‘retheatricalize’ an art form that many felt had been dulled by realism. Anti-theatrical stage experiments, frequently located within the physical, semantic/representational, and ideological contours of the performing body, were deeply influenced by puppets, masks, robots, and automata. These are the focus of Taxidou’s discussion as writing on puppets by Arthur Symons, Walter Pater, and Oscar Wilde are charted, in conjunction with the work of Heinrich von Kleist, Charles Baudelaire (on dolls), and the actual puppet theatres of France and Italy that were so influential at the end of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: theatre, stagecraft, puppet, mask, Übermarionette, performance, robot, Symons, von Kleist, Baudelaire

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