Toward a New Poetics of Theatre: David Boynton's 'Bacchae' in Performance

Prof John Franceschina
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Throughout history, theatre theorists and practitioners have worked to make the theatrical experience relevant to contemporary culture: scientific innovations, current events, popular fads and fashions all managed to be woven in a kind of dramatic fabric that somehow suited the tastes of a particular period. In the twentieth century, for example, movements such as Dadaism, Surrealism, Expressionism, and Absurdism, all attempted to address the fragmentation of society through experiments in dramatic structure, techniques of presentation, and subject matter.

More recent experiments in postmodern performance theory have explored ways of deconstructing texts, adapting techniques from performance artists and utilizing state-of-the art technology, to mirror the computer-driven culture of the millennium. Although many, if not most, of these modern theatre experiments make use of computers, few seem interested in exploring the interplay between a single actor and computer image, relying more on the traditional practice of multiple actors playing multiple roles before a live audience. Yet, it is the symbiotic relationship between a single human agency and mechanical device that best represents the prevailing lifestyle of the twenty-first century. Perhaps it is time to reconsider theatrical theory and explore the deconstruction of the individual performer into an entire dramatis personae that can—through the use of computer imaging—actively engage in simultaneous discourse throughout the play. Euripides’ 'Bacchae', adapted and performed by David Boynton, is an experiment in this new poetics of theatre.

The presentation will include a segment of the production, performed live, and with computer projected images. Presenters Boynton and Franceschina will provide all computer hardware, projectors, and properties necessary for the performance.

Keywords: Greek Tragedy, Euripides, Performance Art, Computer imaging, Performance Theory
Stream: Art in Communities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof John Franceschina

Distinguished Professor of Theatre, School of Theatre
College of Arts and Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University


John Franceschina is the author of "Homosexualities in the English Theatre from L:yly toWilde," "Duke Ellington's Music for the Theatre," "David Braham: the American Offenbach," "Harry B. Smith, Dean of American Librettists," translater of the three-volume "Dramatic Works of the Marquis de Sade," and editor of "Sisters of Gore," "Gore on Stage," and "They Started Talking: the Autobiography of Frank Tuttle." He has composed operas and symphonic works performed by orchestras across the globe and scores for plays and musical theatre across the Untied States. He is Distinguished Professor of Theatre at The Pennsylvania State University where he teaches dramatic theory, theatre history, and musical theatre composition.

Ref: A06P0006