Published by John Hopkins University
For more than thirty years, playwright and director Richard Foreman has been a pioneer in the American theater. His Ontological-Hysteric Theater has earned an international reputation for extending the boundaries of experimental theater (and has won several Village Voice Obie Awards, including one for Best Play in 1998). His work for the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie Theatre, the Paris Opera, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music has brought his unique vision to mainstream audiences with innovative productions of the classics and the works of other playwrights.
This new volume in PAJ's Art + Performance series is the first critical edition devoted to Foreman's work. Edited by Gerald Rabkin, this wide-ranging anthology includes a collection of reviews tracing Foreman's reception from the 1960s to today, a series of informative interviews, a section of critical essays, and a selection of Foreman's writings (including the complete text of My Head Was a Sledgehammer). The book also offers a detailed chronology of Foreman's career, a current bibliography, and nineteen photographs from his plays.
Rabkin's comprehensive introduction traces the development of Foreman's career and places his contributions within the context of post-1950s experimental theater. From Foreman's founding of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater in 1968, to his artistic and personal partnership with Kate Manheim, to his company's move to the historic theater at St. Mark's Church in the 1990s, Richard Foreman chronicles the remarkable vision and singular voice of one of America's most important theater artists.
"Foreman's theater is no mere articulation of theoretical ideas. Obviously, theory illuminates his plays, but to reduce his work to intellectual propositions would impose a transparency that Foreman rejects. His theater has sustained itself through the years because, at its best, it is fun -- spirited, frenetic, dazzling, surprising, provocative, even as it is intellectually demanding. Foreman is not only an obsessive self-scrutinizer, a philosophical prober of recalcitrant reality, but also a ring-master melding text, performance, music, sound, and objects into unique spectacles." -- from the Introduction by Gerald Rabkin
"Foreman's theater is designed to reorient the spectator's perception toward nonlinear forms of consciousness and toward a capacity for aperspectivity. Convinced that the world we call reality is only one among several possible worlds, and that its subjective correlate, our personal consciousness, is only one among several possible modes of experiencing, Foreman advocates that the way we see and what we see can and should be changed." -- Florence Falk, Setting as Consciousness
"As a playwright and director with a philosophical bent, Richard Foreman is a practicing metaphysician in the experimental theater." -- Mel Gussow, Celebrating the Fallen World
"Foreman has always more or less dramatized the anxiety of being. His concern has always been to break through the conventions to a raw feel of reality/truth. In the process he beats epistemology to death and still fails. His theater is the hysterical drama of that failure." -- Kenneth Bernard on Lava