- La escena posdramática. Ensayos sobre la autorreferencialidad by Beatriz Trastoy
La escena posdramática continues Trastoy’s examination of contemporary Argentine theater and its autobiographical impulse. While her previous book on the subject, Teatro autobiográfico (2002), describes the turn to autobiography in the ’80s and ’90s, La escena posdramática lands on the other side of the millennium to explore the newest self-reflexive dramaturgies of Buenos Aires, using Hans-Thies Lehmann’s postdramatic theory as its roadmap. Like the postmodernity to which it belongs, postdramatic theater re-centers spectatorial interest on the human body, acknowledging rather than denying its physical presence. For Trastoy, this real, onstage I manifests the period’s autobiographical spirit, making postdramatic autoreferentiality Argentine theater’s “principio constructivo, su principal artificio, la matiz semántica que modula un aspecto fundamental de su programa interpretativo” (15).
The book’s six essays discuss the predominant patterns and critical responses to the autoreferential, postdramatic moment. Trastoy chooses the essay form precisely for its historical ties to autobiography and critical (self) reflection, thus modeling a potential answer to the book’s central question: how can theater criticism better respond to an art form obsessed with the subjective body?
The first chapter argues that postdramatic theater and the autobiographical impulse share a focus on reflexivity and the body, and consequently blur the limit between fiction and reality. The second chapter catalogues plays that talk about food or involve its ingestion, revealing the role of taste in [End Page 153] sociopolitical and aesthetic formations. The third chapter looks at plays that present and trigger strong affects like disgust in order to rethink their social significance. Chapter four develops the paradoxical relationship between a theater that self-theorizes (via program notes, curatorial statements, meta-theatricality, etc.) but also exhibits an anticritical prejudice that insists on a clear practice-theory divide. The last two chapters offer examples of plays that present death on stage (as in the case of chapter five) and appear in series or cycles, often tied to the curatorial strategies brought to theater from museums or art galleries (chapter six).
A detailed record of dramaturgical output, La escena posdramática thoughtfully analyzes overall patterns in the last twenty years of experimental Argentine theater, unfurling the umbrella term postdramatic to gather the plays it studies under one canopy. While an accurate descriptor of the work Trastoy observes, the term itself requires further evaluation, since autoreferential patterns also appear in contemporary dramatic theater, which troubles the primary link the book observes between reflexivity and postdrama. Nevertheless, Trastoy’s foremost concern with criticism’s ability to propose a more bodily-minded reading of bodily-focused work remains a pressing academic line of inquiry in sync with current debates about affect.