Death in modern theatre

Stages of mortality

By Adrian Curtin

Death in modern theatre


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2470-8
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: February 2019
  • BIC Category: PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / Direction & Production, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / Stagecraft, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, Society & social sciences / Sociology: death & dying, The arts / Theatre studies
  • Series: Theatre: Theory – Practice – Performance


Death in modern theatre offers a unique account of modern Western theatre, focusing on the ways in which dramatists and theatre-makers have explored historically informed ideas about death and dying in their work. It investigates the opportunities theatre affords to reflect on the end of life in a compelling and socially meaningful fashion.

In a series of interrelated, mostly chronological, micronarratives beginning in the late nineteenth century and ending in the early twenty-first century, this book considers how and why death and dying are represented at certain historical moments using dramaturgy and aesthetics that challenge audiences' conceptions, sensibilities, and sense-making faculties. It includes a mix of well-known and lesser-known plays from an international range of dramatists and theatre-makers, and offers original interpretations through close reading and performance analysis.


Adrian Curtin is Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter


Introduction: stages of mortality
1 Beyond the veil: sensing death in symbolist theatre
2 Fantastical representations of death in First World War drama
3 The absurd drama of modern death denial
4 Theatres of catastrophe after Auschwitz and Hiroshima
5 The drama of dying in the early twenty-first century
Conclusion: unending


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