Looking up ‘secrets’: definitions, narrative and pragmatism in A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology: the Secret Art of the Performer

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Abstract

Eugenio Barba's particular brand of ‘theatre anthropology’ has attracted a sustained and often impassioned criticism. Yet his and Nicola Savarese's seminal book, A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology: the Secret Art of the Performer, is a bestseller. This key text has recently been published in a second edition, which adds more illustrations, three new chapters and an index and bibliography to the book. In this article, I extend my consideration of the International School of Theatre Anthropology in Studies in Theatre and Performance, 25: 2, to consider the criticism of Barba's work, and assess its dissemination, authorship and meaning as exemplified in the new edition of the Dictionary, before reflecting on the practical uses of the new publication.

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