Contemporary theatre and performance theory has come to rely heavily upon the idea of the event. Thanks to the advent of performance studies and recent critical historiography, it is now common to understand the study of theatre as a science of events, rather than of dramatic texts. But understanding theatre as a kind of event comes with its own limitations. Contemporary examples of this way of thinking in both performance theory and conservative theatre historiography, considered alongside artifacts of performances that never took place, make clear the problem of theatrical creations that cannot be linked to performance events. Early modern rationalist dramatic theory provides a framework that may address this problem. Alexander Baumgarten's 1735 Reflections on Poetry supplies categories that permit us to engage with the artifacts of theatrical nonevents. Baumgarten's criteria for poetic creation—clarity, vividness, and thematic coherence—can be adapted to construct a theatrical theory that embraces objects currently stranded from our ways of thinking about the nature of theatre.


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pp. 141-150
Launched on MUSE
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