Meditations on those entities the audience does not see—and their profound significance in the theater
Dark Matter maps the invisible dimension of theater whose effects are felt everywhere in performance. Examining phenomena such as hallucination, offstage character, offstage action, sexuality, masking, technology, and trauma, Andrew Sofer engagingly illuminates the invisible in different periods of postclassical western theater and drama. He reveals how the invisible continually structures and focuses an audience’s theatrical experience, whether it’s black magic in Doctor Faustus, offstage sex in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, masked women in The Rover, self-consuming bodies in Suddenly Last Summer, or surveillance technology in The Archbishop’s Ceiling. Each discussion pinpoints new and striking facets of drama and performance that escape sight. Taken together, Sofer’s lively case studies illuminate how dark matter is woven into the very fabric of theatrical representation. Written in an accessible style and grounded in theater studies but interdisciplinary by design, Dark Matter will appeal to theater and performance scholars, literary critics, students, and theater practitioners, particularly playwrights and directors.
“Dark Matter enables us to think carefully about invisibility and absence in the theater. It’s about performativity, a current fascination of theorists. Sofer writes well about performing ontological uncertainty, and has a broad and comprehensive understanding of drama through the ages and around the world.”
—David Bevington, University of Chicago
“No one, to my knowledge, has undertaken a book-length study of the important phenomenon of unseen objects, people, and actions as Sofer has done, and certainly no one has applied to the phenomenon the rich body of theoretical discourse, drawn not only from theatre, but from the sciences and social sciences…. the metaphor of dark matter is an extremely fertile and provocative one, allowing the development of a kind of dark phenomenological analysis of this artistic process.”
—Marvin Carlson, The Graduate Center, City University of New York