Innovation in Gertrude Stein’s Anti-Plays: Genre Analysis of What Happened, Capital Capitals and Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights


Helwan University


Anti-plays can refer to the avant-garde theatre that rejects most traditional aspects of theatre, especially mimesis, or imitation, and sometimes even plot and character. In this research, informed by genre studies, some of the anti-plays of American expatriate writer Gertrude Stein are examined for breaking many theatrical conventions. These plays are: What Happened, Capital Capitals and Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights. Despite being mostly famous for writing modernist novels, Stein wrote a few plays that manifest many of the anti-theatrical elements, such as narrative fragmentation, lack of exposition, or lack of character. Most of her plays can be considered as anti-plays that mark a transitional stage into postdramatic theatre, a designation that has been used, first by Lehmann in Postdramatic Theatre (2006), to describe plays that manifest ample performative qualities and are mainly associated with the postmodernist era. Analyzing Stein’s anti-plays sheds light on some aspects of what the genre of theatre is and explores how her plays are innovative and better interpreted as postdramatic performances that include aspects of music and multimedia.


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