Tadeusz Kantor in Context
Edited by Magda Romanska and Kathleen Cioffi

Theatermachine: Tadeusz Kantor in Context is an in-depth, multidisciplinary compendium of essays about one of the most influential theater artists of the twentieth century. Hans-Thies Lehmann’s theory of postdramatic theater and developments in critical theory—particularly Bill Brown’s thing theory, Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory, and posthumanism—serve to provide a previously unavailable vocabulary for discussion of Kantor’s theater.

Drawing on diverse approaches, the contributors write about Kantor from both global and local perspectives: as an exemplar of “postdramatic tragedy”; in relationship to Jewish culture and Yiddish theater; through the prism of postmemory and trauma theory; and in relation to Japanese, German, French, Polish, and American avant-garde theater. This comprehensive anthology arrives at a time when we grapple with the materiality of our modern lives—AI, technobjects, and algorithms—and might thus also be better poised to understand the materiality that permeates Kantor’s theater.

Theatermachine argues that while confronting the twentieth century’s most pressing, but least comfortable, questions—those of a human’s worth, dignity, essence, and purpose—Kantor might also have been, unwittingly, a harbinger of the twenty-first century’s political, ethical, aesthetic, and critical discourse.
About the Author

MAGDA ROMANSKA is an associate professor in the Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College and the author of Post-traumatic Theatre of Grotowski and Kantor.

KATHLEEN CIOFFI is a theater historian who specializes in Polish theater. She is the author of Alternative Theatre in Poland, 1954–1989.

“This groundbreaking collection of beautifully edited essays is impressive in both scope and depth. The book deftly interweaves Kantor’s Polish, Jewish, international, and theoretical roots, thus illuminating essential connections between each in thrilling new ways.”
—Dassia Posner, author of The Director’s Prism: E. T. A. Hoffmann and the Russian Theatrical Avant-Garde

“A unique collection, full of splendid writing and vivid insight, destined to become an essential resource on one of the twentieth century’s seminal experimental theater artists.”—Jonathan Kalb, Hunter College, the author of Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater

“An invaluable and much needed collection on the incomparable Kantor—his work, his life, his theatrical prescience. Kantor confronted the twentieth century in profound ways that changed the future of theater. This volume approaches his methods and means through twenty-first century lenses that Kantor’s own work might be said to have forecast—post-dramatic theory, new materialism, thing theory, and posthumanism. As such, Theatermachine expands our understanding not only of the theater artist but of theory and practice that would follow.”—Rebecca Schneider, Brown University, the author of Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment