The Text in Play: Representations of Rehearsal in Modern Drama

The Text in Play: Representations of Rehearsal in Modern Drama

The Text in Play: Representations of Rehearsal in Modern Drama

The Text in Play: Representations of Rehearsal in Modern Drama


"Many modern playwrights have dramatized the process of theatrical creation within their plays. In doing so, they have disregarded the "do not disturb" sign on the rehearsal room door, and have opened the art of theater to a particular kind of scrutiny. This scrutiny is unusual given the long-standing tradition of secrecy that surrounds theatrical rehearsal. Viewing modern drama generally as a drama that juxtaposes authority and freedom, and viewing contemporary criticism as essentially an extended debate on the issue of meaning's closure, this study invokes the critical perspectives M. M. Bakhtin, Roland Barthes, and Bertolt Brecht to create a general theory of rehearsal practice that differentiates it from the practice of performance. Working with notions of textual authority explored in a variety of critical contexts, this volume attempts to explore the theoretical ramifications of metatheatrical representations of rehearsal." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


In 1993, the modern dancer twyla tharp showed her COMpany’s rehearsals to the public. in special performances, reported the New York Times, Ms. Tharp guided “her 16 dancers and the audience through the steps and offer[ed] insights into … dances in the two-program repertory.” Commenting on this unusual expose of the dancers’ work, Tharp noted that “We don’t usually show the public what it costs. As Martha Graham said, ‘We do not sweat.’” and yet here Tharp and her company explicitly demonstrate the cost and the sweat. Their impetus to do so grows from a desire to share the somewhat shaky energy of creation itself with audience members in a direct way. Twyla Tharp went so far as to admit that such openings to the public may be viewed as a “sharing of confusion.”

In 1995, the British director Peter Brook presented in Paris his experimental production “Qui Est La,” a theatrical rendition of Hamlet seen, somewhat sporadically, through the perspectives of the directors Constantine Stanislavsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Gordon Craig, Bertolt Brecht, and Antonin Artaud. One might assume from the description that what is interrogated in “Qui Est La” is directorial vision itself. Yet what Brook emphasizes in discussing the work is actually the rehearsal process, and its compatability or incompatability with performance circumstances.

I have long wanted to find a way of dramatizing the search and struggle
within rehearsals…. the problem is that if you actually put a rehearsal
onstage, its very boring because rehearsals are a process that can take
weeks and months for something that eventually only lasts for two hours.
If one is making theater, the issues have to be immediately visible to the
audience, so one needs a carrier.

Brook here positions Shakespeare’s Hamlet, arguably the most renowned and revered piece of dramatic literature in the Western tradition, as merely a “carrier” to deliver in presentational form the “search and struggle” of theatrical rehearsal.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.