Railway Travel in Modern Theatre

Transforming the Space and Time of the Stage


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About the Book

Railway travel has had a significant influence on modern theatre’s sense of space and time. Early in the 20th century, breakthroughs—ranging from F.T. Marinetti’s futurist manifestos to epic theatre’s use of the treadmill—explored the mechanical rhythms and perceptual effects of railway travel to investigate history, technology, and motion. After World War II, some playwrights and auteur directors, from Armand Gatti to Robert Wilson to Amiri Baraka, looked to locomotion not as a radically new space and time but as a reminder of obsolescence, complicity in the Holocaust, and its role in uprooting people from their communities. By analyzing theatrical representations of railway travel, this book argues that modern theatre’s perceptual, historical and social productions of space and time were stretched by theatre’s attempts to stage the locomotive.

About the Author(s)

Kyle Gillette is an assistant professor of theatre at Trinity University in San Antonio. He has published several articles in journals of theatre history, dramatic literature, and performance theory, including Modern Drama, Performance Research, Comparative Drama, the Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and others. He lives in San Antonio.

Bibliographic Details

Kyle Gillette
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7776-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1606-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix

Preface  1

Introduction: Theatre and Locomotion  5

Part I: Upholstered Realism and the Great Futurist Railroad  21

One. The Upholstered Realism of Henrik Ibsen  26

Two. F.T. Marinetti’s “Great Futurist Railroad”  46

Part II: Loco Motion: Railway Perception, Relativity and the Stage  61

Three. Stanisław Witkiewicz’s The Crazy Locomotive  65

Four. Staging Relativity: Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach  79

Part III: History, the Railroad and Political Theatre  99

Five. The Locomotive Technology of Epic Theatre: Erwin Piscator’s Adventures of the Good Soldier Schwejk  104

Six. Locomotion After Auschwitz: Armand Gatti’s Seven Possibilities for Train 713 Departing from Auschwitz  123

Part IV: Locomotive Social Space on the American Stage  141

Seven. The American Train of Thought: Thornton Wilder’s Pullman Car Hiawatha  146

Eight. “In the flying underbelly of the city”: Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman  169

Afterword: End of the Line?  197

Notes  203

Bibliography  211

Index  217