Taking up the work of prominent theater and performance artists, Beyond Text reveals the audacity and beauty of avant-garde performance in print. With extended analyses of the works of Edward Gordon Craig, German expressionist Lothar Schreyer, the Living Theatre, Carolee Schneemann, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, the book shows how live performance and print aesthetically revived one another during a period in which both were supposed to be in a state of terminal cultural decline. While the European and American avant-gardes did indeed dismiss the dramatic author, they also adopted print as a theatrical medium, altering the status, form, and function of text and image in ways that continue to impact both the performing arts and the book arts.
Beyond Text participates in the ongoing critical effort to unsettle conventional historical and theoretical accounts of text-performance relations, which have too often been figured in binary, chronological (“from page to stage”), or hierarchical terms. Across five case studies spanning twelve decades, Beyond Text demonstrates that print—as noun and verb—has been integral to the practices of modern and contemporary theater and performance artists.