The Unfinished Art of Theater
Avant-Garde Intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil
CollectionKnowledge Unlatched (KU)
The avant-garde posits the possibility of total rupture with the past. This book pulls back on this futuristic impulse by showing how theater became a key site for artists on the edge of capitalism to reconfigure the role of the aesthetic between 1917 and 1934. The book argues that this “unfinished art”—because of its weakness as a representative institution in Mexico and Brazil, where the bourgeois stage had not yet coalesced—was at the forefront of struggles to redefine the relationship between art and social change. Drawing on archival research, Townsend reveals the importance of avant-garde projects that belie the rhetoric of rupture and immediacy: ethnographic operas, populist puppet plays, children’s radio programs, a philosophical drama about the birth of a new race, and an antifascist spectacle written for a theater shut down by the police. The book argues that avant-garde art is tied to the experience of dependency, delay, and the uneven development of capitalism.
KeywordsPerforming Arts; Theater; History & Criticism
PublisherNorthwestern University Press
Publication date and place2018
ImprintNorthwestern University Press