Kerstin Howaldt

Theatrical Event-Machines

Encounters between Theatre and Theory in British Farce from the 1960s to the 1980s

Erscheinungsdatum: 11.08.2023, 304 Seiten ISBN: 978-3-8260-7872-9
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Autor*innen:Kerstin Howaldt

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Theatrical Event-Machines provides a theoretical approach to a popular theatrical form whose invaluable contribution to British theatre has been underestimated so far. The book examines canonical British farces published in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s and proposes that the aporetic conceptualisation of the event which makes a farce farcical is best described by Jacques Derrida’s notion of the event-machine. The three thematic chapters explore farcical eventfulness in relation to key concepts of both Poststructuralism and the theatre, namely genre, performance, and mediality. In addition to performing close readings of plays written by Alan Ayckbourn, Michael Frayn, Joe Orton, and Tom Stoppard, the chapters discuss selected deconstructionist writings of Derrida. The study shows that farce subverts genre conventions by undoing events, that it rehearses events to undermine the separation between an allegedly finalised text and imperfect performances, and that it toys with media-induced presences and absences in order to scrutinise the power of the event. Theatrical Event-Machines illustrates how the rise of Poststructuralism in the 1960s has influenced farce – and vice versa. What is more, the thorough analyses presented in this study reveal the self-reflexivity and the meta-theatricality inherent in farce and its potential to enact theory.


Howaldt, Kerstin

Kerstin Howaldt obtained her M.A. in English Philology, Romance Philology, and German Literary and Media Studies from the University of Kiel. In 2021, she completed her PhD on British farce at the University of Erfurt. Further research interests include New Materialism, comics studies, and multi-narratives.