The Theatre of the Real: Yeats, Beckett, and Sondheim traces the thread of jouissance (the simultaneous experience of radical pleasure and pain) through three major theatre figures of the twentieth century. Gina Masucci MacKenzie’s work engages theatrical text and performance in dialogue with the Lacanian Real, so as to re-envision modern theatre as the cultural site where author, actor, and audience come into direct contact with personal and collective traumas. By showing how a transgressively free subject may be formed through theatrical experience, MacKenzie concludes that modern theatre can liberate the individual from the socially constructed self.
The Theatre of the Real revises views of modern theatre by demonstrating how it can lead to a collaborative effort required for innovative theatrical work. By foregrounding Yeats’s “dancer” plays, the author shows how these intimate pieces contribute to the historical development of musical as well as modern theatre. Beckett’s universal dramas then pave the way for Sondheim’s postmodern cacophonies of idea and spirit as they introduce comic abjection into modernism’s tragic mode. This exciting work from a new author will leave readers with fresh insight to theatrical performance and its necessity in our lives.