Occupying the Stage: the Theater of May '68 tells the story of student and worker uprisings in France through the lens of theater history, and the story of French theater through the lens of May '68. Based on detailed archival research and original translations, close readings of plays and historical documents, and a rigorous assessment of avant-garde theater history and theory, Occupying the Stage proposes that the French theater of 1959–71 forms a standalone paradigm called "The Theater of May '68."
The book shows how French theater artists during this period used a strategy of occupation-occupying buildings, streets, language, words, traditions, and artistic processes-as their central tactic of protest and transformation. It further proposes that the Theater of May '68 has left imprints on contemporary artists and activists, and that this theater offers a scaffolding on which to build a meaningful analysis of contemporary protest and performance in France, North America, and beyond.
At the book's heart is an inquiry into how artists of the period used theater as a way to engage in political work and, concurrently, questioned and overhauled traditional theater practices so their art would better reflect the way they wanted the world to be. Occupying the Stage embraces the utopic vision of May '68 while probing the period's many contradictions. It thus affirms the vital role theater can play in the ongoing work of social change.