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PAJ, A Personal History Bonnie Marranca Editorial Review Publication of our 10th anniversary issue suggests a natural occasion to stop and reflect on the conditions that shape the narrative of PAJ, how and why it happened, and now looking back from the perspective of a decade, what hasn't happened, what may yet happen. So, I will begin at the beginning . These conditions are part of a cultural history which is the larger shape of the life of a society, while at the same time being an aspect of personal lives, the smaller history of a culture. To what extent does PAJ make history? How does history make it? In 1975 Gautam Dasgupta and I, then doctoral students in the Ph.D. theatre program at City University in New York, and also theatre critics for the renegade Soho Weekly News, began to talk about starting a theatre journal, in a Greenwich Village cafe. I can assure you that the immediate literary reference to Paris in the '20s was not far from our thoughts. Who wouldn't be seduced by the idea of being geniuses together? What led us to think of this venture, which everyone subsequently advised against, was the absence of any commitment to an ongoing serious discourse in already existing theatre journals, magazines, or books. There was coverage of events and personalities, and documentation of performances, scattered essays, even a few books that did more than treat the established canon. But, for the most part there was very little new critical thinking and commentary to accompany the avant-garde in the theatrical generation after The Living Theatre, The Open Theatre, and The Performance Group, namely, the work of Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theatre and Mabou Mines, which was beginning then to spark the imagination of theatregoers. In fact, there was widespread belief, among both critics and 23 audiences, that this theatre defied criticism because it was so sensual and imagistic and seemingly textIess, that criticism somehow contaminated the pure experience of such theatrical events. Our primary interest in those days, and it remains so now, was to create a forum for critical writing that would evolve a rigorous discourse wherein theatre could engage the most imaginative ideas of our time. It would be a place to air and debate issues, methodologies, proposals, visions. We wanted to rethink the possibilities of theatre in ways that would incorporate the critical dimension as an aspect of contemporary sensibility, beyond the singular field of theatre. We wanted to see the level of discussion in theatre move from its enslavement to Aristotelian poetics to a new poetics of performance and text, and to conduct itself at the more sophisticated levels of investigation that were changing thinking in other fields. How were we physically going to do this? How would we reach an audience ? What would PAJ be? We had little more than desire and a great willingness to work, necessary attributes to be sure, but hardly more than a wishful prelude to the real effort of publishing a journal. Toward the end of 1975 we began to organize articles and writers for our first issue from the two sources that essentially described the different worlds we ourselves straddled: artists making the new theatre who by this time we knew personally ; scholars and critics, many drawn from universities, already writing on theatre. These specific sources would combine to produce material on contemporary theatre experiments, and theatre scholarship that would uncover or rediscover lost and forgotten texts for a new historical time frame. The two aspects of publishing, we felt, should go hand in hand in any theatre periodical that would hope to develop a comprehensive view of its subject. We never wanted to limit PAJ to one era, to one country (America), to one school of criticism. And as long-time students we valued the rewards of scholarship and intensive study in a chosen field, just as we valued and were transformed by what I have previously called the "theatre of images" that would bring a new aesthetic vision to theatre and provocation to criticism. It was simply our good fortune to be young would-be critics when a new wave...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 23-42
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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