Theatre & Violence
There has been a tendency for some writers in this series to utilise overly-macho academic techniques to impress readers, sometimes at the risk of using (or inventing) vocabulary that is not an everyday usage.
It is therefore very pleasing to report that, even though it is only 78 pages long, this look at Theatre & Violence proves to be really informative for the general reader, typically using intelligible language to express fascinating news. Even with this approach, it will undoubtedly also prove useful to those with a dissertation to write or lecture to deliver.
The real value of this volume lies in its ability to make readers reconsider what they see both on stage and in real life.
Lucy Nevitt inevitably uses Shakespeare and Sarah Kane but, in addition, draws from such wide-ranging examples as 9/11 and WWE. She even considers those performers who get kicks out of hurting themselves on stage for the delectation of viewers who probably need some pretty serious counselling themselves.
Violence has been part of drama for as long as people have stood on stages. However, most people do little more than get cheap thrills or sickened by what they witness in this context.
Lucy Nevitt makes you think about the impact of portrayed violence from both ends. Not only can stage and other forms of violence potentially infect the minds of those that enjoy them but reactions to real life examples can also be changed in subtle ways by imaginative playwrights and directors.
By the end of this slim essay, anyone who is not well versed in fight direction will have had their eyes opened and will never watch a state battle in quite the same way again. They might also have a different opinion of the power to shock or challenge that various forms of cruelty depicted on stage can have.
At the same time, after finishing this book there may also react differently to TV news coverage of atrocities and even to video games.
All credit must go to Lucy Nevitt and it would be good to see this excellent author tackle a full-scale analysis of this and associated topics at some time in the near future.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher