American Theater of the 1960s

By Zoltán Szilassy | Go to book overview

4
Happenings and New Performance Theories

I T IS DIFFICULT to discuss happenings and new performance theories since at least to my knowledge, there exists no comprehensive history of the happenings, nor is there any all-embracing definition that could account for the diversity of the environmentalia, mise en scène, and message of these "events." The new performance theories are even vaguer, since their recent critical interpretations speak of no less than a role in our so-called postmodern culture.1 Another obvious difficulty is that it is impossible to accurately reconstruct the authentic atmosphere of these intermedia (as they later came to be called) from the sketchy scenarios, photographs, and impressionistic criticism available. The happenings as products of immediate impulses must have relied intensely upon an interaction with the particular historical, social, political, and artistic background from which they had grown.

Thus, instead of analyzing individual artists' oeuvres, I limited this section to a quick summary of some relevant critical responses to the happenings. There seem

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