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45 Years Trying to Destroy the Theater in Order to Illuminate My Own Stumbling Self

Thursday Lecture Series, Altered States

dateFebruary 25, 2016 timeThursday, 12:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • David Gutkin
  • Audience open exclusively to Columbia faculty, students, and invited guests
  • All others interested in attending, please email SOF/Heyman at [email protected].
Two people on stage wearing elaborate costumes holding large white props

Full title: "45 Years Trying to Destroy the Theater in Order to Illuminate My Own Stumbling Self or Perhaps Others."

This lecture examines the varying methods Foreman has used over 45 years to create theater that blocks normal ways of perceiving a theatrical event—and forces the spectator to use a different mental rhythm to make sense of his rather aggressive style, which fragments the world of normal activity, and in putting the "pieces" of a broken world together in willful but unexpected ways—creates a kind of aesthetic paradise in which encountered tension and discomfort become the focus of a mental "dance" which energizes and delights (hopefully) in the midst of a fallen world.

Foreman has worked to that end, thinking of his theater-- yes-- as a kind of therapy. The "material"-- the text-- is the chaotic structure that he-- as stage-director psychoanalyst-- shapes so that "aesthetic" discoveries can be made which, in and of themselves, can perhaps change the vibrations in the spectator's head-- so he or she discovers new mental tools that re-orient one to life as well as to art. This all sounds, perhaps, rather ponderous. But in fact Foreman thinks of himself as an essentially COMIC artist. He don't hesitate to use the vulgar razzle-dazzle of theater-- and he once described what he does as "Mallarme on a Vaudaville stage."