'THE CONSTRUCTION IS DRAMATICALLY THEATRICAL': FROM THE (META)THEATRICALITY OF THOMAS BERNHARD'S DRAMAS TO THE (META)THEATRICALITY OF NEW TEXTS FOR THE THEATRE
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Thomas Bernhard's (1931-1989) dramas are virtually saturated with role-playing, disguises, make-believe games, acting and stage performances. This article analyzes the metatheatrical mechanisms involved in this extraordinary accumulation of dramatic devices and compares their use with techniques which have become popular with contemporary dramatists. Reading their texts against the background of Bernhard's work offers a striking proof of the extent to which the choice of metatheatrical techniques is subject to current cultural influences. However, the claim that contemporary drama at last confronts us with reality must be taken with more than a grain of salt. It would be truer to say that it tends to steep the identities of its characters and situations in irresolvable ambiguities and to open up to the visual arts, even at the cost of disregarding questions of theatricality, ie. a critical preoccupation with the fundamentally problematic nature of the theatre. Yet in spite of its distinct quality contemporary drama seems to draw on the same theatrical categories that can be found in Bernhard. Likewise, formal differences should not obscure the fact that plays continue to be constructed with an eye to the 'dramatically theatrical'.
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