Political philosophy of theatre: The experience of avant-garde and Black theatre

Michael A Peters, Ruth Nicole Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we argue there are three separate senses of the political in theatre – what we call in turn: (1) revolutionary content, a theatre that much in the style of Brecht or Lukacs seeks to represent the truth of class, gender or “race” relations; (2) experimental theatre, theatre that experiments with inventing new rules in the game and sometimes a new game; (3) metatheatricality – the vehicle whereby a play comments on itself, drawing attention to the circumstances of its own production, such as the presence of the audience or the fact that the actors are actors, and/or the making explicit of the literary artifice behind the production. In the first section we trace the relation between theatre and the European avant-garde beginning with the problem of realism in socialist art; in the second section we trace the development and preoccupations of Black theatre and its relation to political philosophy of theatre; and in the third and final section, we make some observations about the concept of metatheatricality.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-35
JournalLinguistic and Philosophical Investigations
StatePublished - 2010


  • political
  • philosophy
  • avant-garde
  • black
  • theatre
  • poetry


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