• Cliff's Notes
  • What is experimental theater"?"
  • How can banks afford to lend out so much money?
  • What should I consider when deciding whether to invest in a company?
  • Who was the first female Senator in the United States?
  • What are the best courses to take if I want to end up doing research in metaphysics?
  • A friend of mine told me that my favorite TV show jumped the shark." What does that even mean?"
  • There is a new guy at my school and I think he's cute, funny, and sweet, but he's really shy. I want to ask him on a date, but I'm not sure if I should, and if I should, how?
  • How do you know a guy likes you?
  • How much outside class study time is recommended for every hour of class time for college freshmen?
  • Is it common for people to be scared to go into high school? Can you give me some tips to survive?
  • What is the easiest foreign language to learn? Which foreign language looks the best on college applications?
  • How do I get involved in classroom discussions without sounding stupid?
  • What is organizational design?
  • Will mentioning my race in my college essay increase my chances of getting in?
  • Is my summer vacation to Italy a good topic for my college essay? (I have pictures, too.)
  • How do I pull together all the notes I've taken to study for a test?
  • To study better, I want to get organized with some of the stuff I see advertised. What should be on my shopping list?
  • What does it mean to live in a credential society?
  • What kind of careers are available for someone with a degree in English?
  • What can I do if I think my teacher gave me the wrong grade?
  • How do I choose a college major?
  • I have too many projects and not enough hours in the day. Is 8 hours of sleep really that important?
  • How do I choose a topic for a personal essay?
  • What tips can you give me for studying for a test on something I've read?
  • How do I write a good research paper?
  • How can I highlight my textbooks efficiently?
  • How do I convince my parents to spend a few extra bucks to upgrade from a dial-up connection to broadband like a cable modem or DSL? They say I have to give some benefits for spending extra.
  • What do you do when you're lost; when you can't concentrate and have lost your will to succeed? How can you get back on track?
  • Is homework important?
  • What is your opinion of the rise of virtual actors and the fall of live ones, what do you think about virtual actors taking the place of live ones?
  • My mom and my friends say I should quit doing something [swimming, tennis, violin, honors classes], but I love all the things I do. What can I do?
  • I started my first job a couple weeks ago (just for the summer). Do you have any tips for getting along with everybody at work?
  • Is it still important for people who develop Web pages to know HTML? If so, why?
  • When I am making a speech or a presentation in front of the class, my face or body automatically shivers. My voice gets weird also. How can I stop it?
  • I want to finish high school in 3 years instead of 4, but I am not sure it is a good idea. What do you think?
  • What are some occupations involving astronomy?
  • If I'm going to college for a degree in art, are all of my other classes even worth taking?
  • Are your freshmen grades important to get into college?
  • Is Johns Hopkins University a medical school? How long do I have to spend in a medical school to become a doctor?
  • For Milton Friedman, what are the social responsibilities of business?
  • What is The Fed and is it good or bad?
  • What is a Ponzi scheme?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of Gross Domestic Product?
  • What is full employment and why is it difficult to measure?
  • What's a recession?
  • What is economics?
  • My parents and I are looking to buy a car for me I am 17 and I will be added to my parents insurance What cars have the lowest insurance rates but are still cool to drive
  • What is marketing?
  • Can you explain to me the impact money will have on the future (or my future. I am 16 years old)?
  • Are there any Spanish words bearing even a minute similarity to the name Peter? Not a name, but any word that is in any way similar to Peter.
  • Who led American efforts in Paris to gain French support during the American Revolution?
  • I need help locating a Web site that has pronunciation of the Spanish alphabet. For example, in English we sing", A, B, C, D, E, F, G . . .etc. Where can I find the Spanish alphabet?"
  • I know that there is no elision with French possessive adjectives. So what's the deal with: Qui est ton artiste favorite ?
  • I’m taking Spanish and need some good ways to study for tests. Do you have any tips?
  • In Spanish how do I know when to use de, del, a and al?
  • I'm going to be starting a new foreign language, and I'm not sure which language to take: French or Spanish. I know some French, but only greetings. Which do you think?
  • What is the term for when the Congressional majority represents the opposite party of the President?
  • Where in the U.S. Constitution are health and property mentioned?
  • To what extent did the Cold War shape the American domestic life of the 1950s?
  • The 10th Amendment does what?
  • How did the United States respond to Communist revolutions in Cuba and Nicaragua?
  • Which U.S. presidents also served in the House of Representatives?
  • What does the FCC regulate?
  • Who were the major political players during the Reagan Administration? Who helped shape President Reagan's legacy?
  • Who was the first Secretary of State for the United States?
  • Do prisoners deserve to be educated?
  • The death penalty has always interested me. What are the different ways you can execute someone without it being cruel or unusual?
  • Who were the major congressional participants in developing Social Security legislation?
  • With so many delegates speaking so many different languages, how does the United Nations get anything done?
  • I love watching TV court shows, and would enjoy them more if I understood some of the legal jargon, like ex post facto. What does that mean?
  • What is habeas corpus, and where is it guaranteed by law?
  • Where is the establishment of religion clause in the U.S. Constitution?
  • What's the point of making texting while driving illegal?
  • Have social conservatives captured the Republican Party?
  • Why are Republicans (or those who favor capitalism) called the right" or "right-wing" and Democrats (or those who favor social issues) called the "left?""
  • Who were the War Hawks?
  • What are the differences in the ways the House and the Senate conduct debates on a bill?
  • What is WikiLeaks?
  • How long do oral arguments last in Supreme Court cases?
  • What do you think are some reasons why the President was given almost unlimited military powers? What are some possible positive and negative effects resulting from the scope of the President's military power?
  • Why is the United States government so worried about North Korea?
  • Did Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation actually free any slaves?
  • How were U.S. Senators originally chosen?
  • What changes in American society have created new issues for the government to address?
  • What was the Tweed Ring?
  • What do you think secret service for the Obama girls is like? Is there a dude with a gun and stuff sitting next to them in class? Wouldn't that make it hard for them to concentrate?
  • How many representatives does each state have in the House of Representatives?
  • What is the difference between the Senate Majority/Minority leaders and the Senate Whip?
  • How are justices to the U.S. Supreme Court elected? Is this a good or a bad thing?
  • What type of education do you need to become Speaker of the House?
  • I heard a rumor that if you modify the photo by at least 10%, it doesn't matter if it's copyrighted and you can use it however. Is that true?
  • What do security and infringed mean in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
  • What did Abraham Lincoln mean by A house divided against itself cannot stand"?"
  • Who is the only U.S. President who never won a nationwide election?
  • What is the current law on compulsory vaccinations in the U.S.? Are there any exceptions for people who don't want to get vaccinated?
  • After the stock market crash, how did President Hoover try to help the economy?
  • My economics teacher said something about stagflation , what is that, exactly?
  • How do interest groups play a role in American government?
  • Has Thanksgiving always been on the same day?
  • Can someone who's not a Republican or Democrat win an election?
  • What can you tell me about the 1976 presidential election?
  • The Electoral College — can anyone apply?
  • How do lobbyists influence public policy decisions?
  • What happens if the president doesn't like a piece of legislation?
  • What are the legal elements of a crime?
  • How did the Whiskey Rebellion change people's perception of federal laws in the United States?
  • How do federal judges get their jobs?
  • If you are dressed to conform to an informal, verbal dress code but a different, written dress code is enforced and you get in trouble, do you have a First Amendment right to challenge it? My teachers enforce the dress code inconsistently.
  • How does the CIA recruit people? What types of majors do they typically target?
  • What is the importance of the Declaration of Independence? Why would the founders of our country need to declare" their freedom? Why is it so important today?"
  • What is Presidential Veto Power?
  • What is the purpose of government, and how does a bill become law?
  • Is there a way, other than retiring, to get out of the Supreme Court (such as being dismissed)?
  • When did the pocket veto start?
  • Who would serve as the new president if both the president and vice president resigned?
  • What was the difference in history between the Middle Ages (Medieval Times) and the Renaissance?
  • What's a Congressional Page and how do you become one?
  • Differences Between Public Universities and Private Schools
  • Entering College Without a Major in Mind
  • Figure Out Your College Preference
  • Freshman Dorm Life: Choosing a Roommate
  • Gain an Edge with Community Service
  • Apply to College Online
  • Approach AP Essay Questions with Ease
  • Choose the Right Dorm
  • Choosing a College: The Importance of the Campus Tour
  • Choosing Between a Large or Small College
  • Get a Clue about Community College
  • The College Admissions Interview
  • Get College Info from People around You
  • Getting Into College: Letters of Recommendation
  • Getting the Most from Your High School Guidance Counselor
  • Going to College When You Have a Disability
  • How College Applications Are Reviewed to Determine Acceptance
  • How Many Colleges Should You Apply To?
  • Keep Track of Test Time: Exam Calendar
  • Know What Colleges Are Looking For
  • Know Which Exam's Right for You
  • Pack Your Bags for SAT* Exam Day
  • Plan Wisely for Campus Visits
  • Planning High School Summers with an Eye toward College Admissions
  • Prepare for the Revised SAT*
  • Put Together a College Admission Timeline
  • Read the Right Stuff for the AP* English Literature Exam
  • Save Yourself from Senioritis
  • Start Earning College Credit Early
  • Student Diversity as an Important Factor in Considering Colleges
  • Taking a Year Off between High School and College
  • Take the Right High School Classes to Get into College
  • Technology and the College Application Process
  • Understanding Subject Tests and College Admissions
  • Understanding Your Academic Average and Class Rank
  • Weighing One College's Degree Program against Another
  • Write a College Admissions Essay
  • What Are College Early Action Admissions Plans?
  • What Are College Early Decision and Regular Decision Admissions Plans?
  • What Are College Rolling Admissions Plans?
  • Where Can I Find Info to Compare Colleges?
  • Find Out about Federal Student Aid
  • Filling Out the FAFSA
  • Get to Know the CSS Profile Form
  • Getting Financial Aid Information at School
  • How to Consolidate Private Student Loans
  • Avoid Negotiating with Financial Aid Offers
  • Avoid Scholarship Scams
  • Borrow for College without Going Bust
  • Building a Budget after College with a Financial Diary
  • Consider the Federal Work-Study Program
  • Considering a PLUS Loan
  • Deal with the FAFSA
  • Dealing with Private Student Loans during Financial Hardship
  • Debunking Some Common Myths about Financial Aid
  • How to Gather Information on Your Private Student Loans
  • The Differences between Scholarship and Student Loan Payouts
  • The Federal Pell Grant System
  • Loan Forgiveness of Your Student Loans
  • Negotiating Rent on an Apartment
  • Organize Student Loans with a Private Loans Chart
  • Overpaying on Student Loans for Quicker Payoff
  • Places You Might Not Think to Look for Scholarships
  • Put "Sticker Price" in Perspective
  • Student Loan Deferments and Forbearance
  • Try to Sweeten Your Financial Aid Package
  • Transfer Private Student Loan Debt to Low-Rate Credit Cards
  • Understanding Repayment Periods on Private Student Loans
  • What Happens If You Miss a Student Loan Payment?
  • After the Rush: Pledging a Sorority
  • Avoid Alcohol and Drug Temptations
  • Back to School Considerations for Adult Learners
  • College Professors Appreciate Good Behavior
  • Consider Studying Abroad
  • Deal with the Roommate Experience
  • Decide if the Greek Life Is for You
  • Decide on a Major
  • Find Yourself a Used Car for College
  • Fit Sleep into Student Life
  • Freshman Year Extracurricular Goals
  • Get By on a Limited Cash Flow
  • Get Creative for Summer after College Freshman Year
  • Get the Hang of the Add/Drop Process
  • Get with the Program: Internships, Work-Study, and Service Learning
  • How to Evaluate Campus Life during a College Visit
  • Job Shadow to Explore Careers
  • Key In to Effective Study Habits
  • Maintain Your Mental Health
  • Make the Most of Taking Lecture Notes
  • Pack Up for College
  • Prepare for College Instructor/Student Expectations
  • Put Together a Bibliography or Works Cited
  • Research on the Internet
  • Rule Out Academic Dishonesty
  • Say No to Dating College Friends' Siblings or Exes
  • Student Teaching: Test Drive Your Career in Education
  • Taking a Gamble: Gaming on Campus
  • Transferring from Community College to Four-Year Institution
  • Understand Types of Research Material
  • What to Expect from Sorority Rush
  • Work at a Part-Time Job
  • Write a Top-Notch Research Paper
  • Why do some critics want the 22nd Amendment repealed?
  • What is guerrilla warfare?
  • Years ago I learned that our national highway system has built-in runways for emergency landing strips. Is this still true?
  • What newspapers did Frederick Douglass write for?
  • I know that the days of the week are all named after Norse or Roman gods or the sun and moon, but I can't figure out what Tuesday is named for. Do you know?
  • Can you give me a brief history of Prussia?
  • Who were the Ottomans?
  • Who discovered oxygen?
  • What have been the major Israel and Arab conflicts since World War II?
  • 1What does the cormorant (bird) symbolize in mythology?
  • How did Peter I of Russia come to power?
  • What can you tell me about Kwanzaa?
  • What is the Alma-Ata declaration?
  • I've heard that in some countries, everyone has to sign up for the military between high school and college. Is that true?
  • How were women treated in Ancient Rome?
  • What is the history and meaning of Turkey's flag?
  • How are justices to the US Supreme Court elected Is this a good or a bad thing
  • How did ounce come to be abbreviated as oz.?
  • Why did Cromwell dissolve the first Protectorate parliament?
  • Why does The Great Depression end when the United States enters World War II?
  • What place did the underworld have in Egyptian mythology?
  • Can you explain Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in words that a teen can understand?
  • Who was the most famous mathematician?
  • Where did Christopher Columbus land when he reached the Americas?
  • Who had control of more states during the American Civil War, the North or the South?
  • How did Zeus become ruler of the Greek gods?
  • Why does Santa Claus have so many names — Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, and Kris Kringle?
  • What is antidisestablishmentarianism?
  • What is Leningrad known as today?
  • Who were the leading figures in the Classical period of music?
  • Why didn't the Pope allow Henry VIII a divorce, and who was Catherine of Aragon's relative who came and held siege?
  • Who wrote, A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"?"
  • Was the Spanish Armada large, and did its crews have notable sailing skill?
  • What was the cause of the War of Spanish Succession?
  • What is the song Yankee Doodle Dandy" really about?"
  • What's the story of the Roanoke colony?
  • How does history reflect what people were thinking at the time?
  • My teacher says there's more than one kind of history. How can that be?
  • What were the turning points in World War II?
  • We just started studying Spanish exploration in North America. What makes it so important today?
  • What was it like for women in the 1920s?
  • Have Americans always been big on sports?
  • Who invented baseball?
  • What did American Indians have to give up for pioneers?
  • How did imperialism spread around the world?
  • How did Imperialism in India come about?
  • What's the big deal about Manifest Destiny?
  • How did the Tet Offensive affect public opinion about the Vietnam War?
  • Why did Christian Lous Lange deserve the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921?
  • Where do the four suits in a deck of cards originate? What do they represent?
  • What was the Roe v. Wade trial?
  • Who is Constantine?
  • I need to know some info on the Monroe Doctrine. I have looked everywhere but I still can't find any information. Can you PLEASE help?
  • Where did the chair originate from? I was sitting on one the other day and it said Made in China," but where did it first come from?"
  • What kind of cash crops did they grow in the South in early America?
  • Everyone talks about how enlightened the Mayans were, but what did they really do?
  • What caused the fall of the Roman Empire? Did Christianity play a role?
  • What was the reason for the downfall of the Russian Empire in 1917?
  • What prompted slavery? Why were the Africans chosen for enslavement?
  • How did World War I start and end?
  • What is The Palestinian Conflict?
  • I don't really understand the French Revolution. What started it, and what stopped it?
  • What was the doctor's diagnosis of Helen Keller when she was a baby?
  • What is the Trail of Tears?
  • When speaking about Native Americans, what is the difference between an Indian tribe and an Indian Nation?
  • What happened during the Boston Massacre?
  • What was sectionalism in America before the Civil War?
  • How did the U.S. attempt to avoid involvement in World War II?
  • What is Ronald Reagan's Tear down this wall" speech about?"
  • Can you describe the United States policy of containment and show an example of an event when the policy was used and why?
  • How many countries are there in the world?
  • What did Columbus do besides sail to the New World?
  • My history teacher said that if your religious denomination isn't Catholic, than you are a Protestant. Is she right?
  • Do you think that Mormons are Christians? What is the full name of the Mormon Church?
  • What principles of the Belmont Report were violated in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study?
  • What is the size of Europe in square miles?
  • The United States was given the right to establish naval bases in the British West Indies during World War II by the British Government in exchange for what?
  • How were the Crusades a turning point in Western history?
  • 10 Things You Need to Know about College (but Probably Don’t)
  • Top 7 Secrets of College Success
  • Heading Off for College? 10 Must-Do's
  • What does impertinent mean (from The American )?
  • I know that the verb pluck means to pull out or pull at, but what's the definition when used as a noun?
  • Which novels would you recommend to 15-year-olds on the theme of places and forms of power?
  • In The Pearl, why didn't John Steinbeck give the pearl buyers identifying names?
  • In the play, The Crucible , why would Arthur Miller include the Note on Historical Accuracy?
  • What is perfidy (from Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser)?
  • Is being pedantic a good or bad thing?
  • Is a termagant a type of seabird?
  • What is ichor (from The Iliad )?
  • In The Hunger Games, why did Cinna choose to be the designer for District 12?
  • Is a rivulet really a river, only smaller?
  • Charles Dickens has this person called the beadle" in lots of his books. Is that like a nickname for a man with buggy eyes or something?"
  • In Brave New World, why are family words like father and mother viewed as obscene?
  • What is the main tenet of stoicism?
  • What's the meaning of obsequious (from Theodore Dreiser's urban novel Sister Carrie )?
  • Where are the Antipodes (from Much Ado about Nothing )?
  • What is a truckle bed (from Romeo and Juliet )?
  • What does truculent (from Great Expectations ) mean?
  • If someone inculcates you, should you feel insulted?
  • What does the phrase Ethiop words" mean in Shakespeare's As You Like It ?"
  • I was chatting with a neighbor who said I was quite garrulous . Nice or mean?
  • What does laconic mean?
  • At a restaurant famous for its rude servers, a waitress told me to lump it" when I asked for another napkin. Can you tell me about that phrase?"
  • What does urbane (from Daisy Miller ) mean?
  • I thought necro had something to do with being dead. So, what's a necromancer ? Sounds creepy.
  • In The House of Mirth, this guy named Gus Trenor is eating a jellied plover." Is that some kind of doughnut?"
  • What are some well-known novels whose titles are quotations from Shakespeare?
  • In Orwell's 1984, what does the opening sentence suggest about the book?
  • Understanding the literary genre Magical Realism
  • What's a prig?
  • I asked my granddad if he liked his new apartment and he said, It's all hunky-dory, kiddo." What did he mean?"
  • What does mephitic (from Man and Superman ) mean?
  • I hate finding typos in books. Here's one I've seen several times: jalousies instead of jealousies.
  • On the second week of my summer job at a bookstore, my boss handed me an envelope with what she called my emoluments. Looked like a paycheck to me, though.
  • In To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some examples of the characters having courage?
  • What's cud? I was once told to stop chewing my cud and get back to work.
  • What can you tell me about the word patois from The Awakening ?
  • What are thews (from Ivanhoe )?
  • What does pot-shop (from The Pickwick Papers ) mean?
  • Are all dowagers women?
  • If someone is the titular head of a political party, does it mean they have all the power?
  • The word flummox confuses me. What does it mean?
  • Somebody told me I looked pasty. Does that mean I've eaten too many sweets?
  • I started taking private bassoon lessons. When I arrived at my teacher’s house, he told me to wait in the anteroom. I wasn’t sure where to go.
  • Is anomalous the same as anonymous ?
  • I know that a fathom is a unit of measure used by sailors, but how long is a fathom?
  • What is a joss (from Victory, by Joseph Conrad)?
  • What does eschew (from The Pickwick Papers ) mean?
  • What does excrescence (from The Call of the Wild ) mean?
  • What does the word covert mean?
  • In Shakespeare's Sonnet 125, what is an oblation ?
  • In Moby-Dick , what does vitiate mean?
  • In War and Peace , what does bane mean?
  • In Jane Eyre , what are chilblains ?
  • Does mendacious refer to something that is fixable (mendable)?
  • Is kickshawses one of those weird words that Shakespeare coined? What does it mean?
  • You say in CliffsNotes that In Cold Blood was Truman Capote's undoing. How?
  • What is renege , in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra ?
  • What is maxim ? I think it's a female name but I'm not sure.
  • Last Valentine's Day, this guy I barely know gave me a rose and said something about ardent love. What does ardent mean?
  • In Act I, Scene 1, of King Lear, what does benison mean?
  • What kind of literature is a picaresque novel?
  • What does culpable mean?
  • What's a cenotaph ? Every Veterans Day, I hear about the Queen of England laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in London.
  • What does gallimaufry mean in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ? My vocabulary is pretty good, but that one has me stumped!
  • What does it mean to genuflect ?
  • Someone told me I was looking wistful. What is wistful ?
  • In David Copperfield, what does superannuated mean?
  • Does the word syllogism have something to do with biology?
  • I see the word benefactor a lot in my reading assignments. Is that somebody who benefits from something?
  • I found a funny word in The Glass Castle. Where did skedaddle come from and what does it mean?
  • Does sinuous mean something like full of sin"? I saw the word in The Devil in the White City ."
  • In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, what is the meaning of the word propaganda ?
  • What are characteristics of Modernist literature, fiction in particular?
  • What does my brother mean when he says he's too ensconced in his studies to look for a girlfriend?
  • My grandpa complained about a bunch of politicians making what he called chin music . Did he mean they were in a loud band?
  • What is melodrama?
  • In Dracula, what's a missal ?
  • In the terms abject poverty and abject misery, what does abject mean?
  • In Moby-Dick, what does craven mean?
  • What does cicatrize mean?
  • What is a noisome smell" in Tolstoy's War and Peace ?"
  • What is an apostasy, from the George Bernard Shaw play, Man and Superman ?
  • In Jane Eyre, what's syncope ?
  • I just read Dracula. What's the forcemeat in Jonathan Harker's journal?
  • Can the word stern mean more than one thing?
  • Where is Yoknapatawpha county?
  • What does smouch mean?
  • I'm supposed to write a comparison of Hektor and Achilles from Homer's The Iliad, but I don't know where to start.
  • How do you pronounce quay ? And what does it mean, anyway?
  • What are some examples of paradox in the novel Frankenstein ?
  • In Ivanhoe, what does mammock mean?
  • What does rummage mean?
  • Is a mummer some type of religious person?
  • Some guy I don't like told his friend I was acting all demure. What does that mean?
  • When I complained about our cafeteria food, my biology teacher told me he wished they'd serve agarics. Was he talking about some kind of dessert?
  • Where did the name Of Mice and Men come from?
  • What genre would you consider the book, The Outsiders ?
  • In Fahrenheit 451, why would a society make being a pedestrian a crime?
  • What does the phrase, a worn-out man of fashion" mean from Jane Eyre ?"
  • Is sagacity a medical condition?
  • My teacher told me I was being obdurate. Was that a compliment?
  • What motives inspired Iago to plot revenge against Othello?
  • Who was the first king of Rome?
  • What does enervate mean?
  • What is a parvenu ? I saw the word in William Makepeace Thackeray's book Vanity Fair.
  • Is salubrity somehow related to being famous?
  • Do capers have something to do with cops?
  • What's the difference between a soliloquy and a monologue?
  • In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce uses the word pandybat . What's a pandybat?
  • Does the word inexorable have something to do with driving demons out of a person?
  • Do people who prognosticate have some sort of special power?
  • What is a hegemony, from James Joyce's Ulysses ?
  • What are fallow fields ? I'm a city gal who heard the term at a 4-H fair and just read it in Anna Karenina.
  • What's the difference between parody and satire?
  • Lord of the Flies uses the word inimical. What does it mean?
  • What does dreadnaught mean, as it’s used in Bleak House?
  • I saw vertiginous in Madame Bovary. What does mean the word mean?
  • What does overweening mean, in Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes?
  • Can you hear a dirge anyplace but a funeral?
  • Does imperturbable refer to something you can't break through?
  • What are the seven ages of man?
  • What is a chimera , in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë?
  • What's dross ?
  • What is an injunction ?
  • For school I had to make a Napoleon hat, which called for a cockade. What is that?
  • If someone studies assiduously, does it mean they're working really hard or really slowly?
  • Define mood as it relates to a work of fiction. Distinguish mood from effect.
  • My sister calls me the Princess of Prevarication." What's prevarication ?"
  • What's turpitude, as in moral turpitude"?"
  • What's the definition of tenebrous ?
  • This biography I'm reading about Queen Victoria says that she refused to remove the hatchment she had for her husband Prince Albert. What does that word mean?
  • What does sine qua non mean?
  • What's lugubrious mean?
  • What's impugn mean, from Ivanhoe?
  • What does postprandial mean?
  • I love reading fashion magazines and occasionally come across the word atelier. What is that?
  • What does King Lear mean when he says that ingratitude is a marble-hearted fiend"?"
  • What is celerity , from Ivanhoe ?
  • In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein , what are disquisitions ?
  • What's shrive ? My neighbor said she's been unshriven for years, but I think her skin looks quite shriveled.
  • What's a dobbin ?
  • What's polemic ? Over winter break, my uncle told me I was polemic and asked if I was on the debate team at school.
  • I came across a list of homonyms: mu, moo, moue . I know mu is Greek for the letter m , and moo is the sound cows make, but what's a moue ?
  • What does trow mean?
  • In Far from the Madding Crowd , what does cavil mean?
  • What does Charles Dickens mean when he says “toadies and humbugs” in his book, Great Expectations ?
  • Where can I find the word naught in The Scarlet Letter ?
  • I found an old diary from the 1800s where the writer describes how he almost died but was saved by a sinapism . What is that?
  • I know what mulch is, but what's mulct ?
  • When our teacher was introducing the next reading assignment, he said we'll be using the unexpurgated version. What did he mean?
  • For some reason, the word dingle sticks in my head after having read Treasure Island years ago. I never did discover what it meant. How about it, Cliff?
  • In Dracula , what's stertorous breathing?
  • What does philippic mean?
  • I'm usually pretty good at guessing what words mean, but have no clue about exigence . What is it?
  • What's doughty ? How do you pronounce it?
  • What's sharecropping? I'm kind of embarrassed to ask, because it's one of those words everyone assumes you know what it means.
  • I'm working on my summer reading list with Kafka's The Trial. The very first sentence uses traduce , and I don't know what that means.
  • What does the cormorant (bird) symbolize in mythology?
  • I saw the word badinage in the book Uncle Tom's Cabin . Do you think that's a typo that really should be bandage ?
  • On a TV modeling contest, a judge said, Her simian walk is unbelievable." Was that a good thing?"
  • What is the definition of adverbiously , from Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • In Oliver Twist , Dodger refers to Oliver as flash companion . Can't find a definition of this anywhere. What does it mean?
  • Do elocutionists kill people?
  • For my English homework, I have to write a love poem. I'm only 13 and I haven't had my first love yet. How would I go about writing about feelings that I haven't felt yet?
  • Where on the body would I find my sarcophagus ?
  • What's stolid ? It sounds like someone who's stupid and built solid like a wall.
  • What's a wonton person?
  • In which play did William Shakespeare state that misery loves company?
  • What's comfit ? Is it a different way of saying comfort?
  • Where did the story Frankenstein by Mary Shelley take place?
  • What kind of person would a shallow-pate be?
  • What are myrmidons of Justice" in Great Expectations ?"
  • Faseeshis … no clue on the spelling, but I kind of got yelled at in school today for being that. What did I do?
  • In The Red Badge of Courage , what's an imprecation ?
  • The word portmanteau shows up in a lot of the literature I read for school assignments. It sounds French. What does it mean?
  • I did something really stupid yesterday, and my grandfather told me I was hoist with my own petard." What does that mean? And what's a petard ?"
  • How do you pronounce Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare's early comedies?
  • What's a bourse ? I read it in my finance class.
  • In The House of Mirth, what are oubliettes ?
  • In Tess of the d'Urbervilles, what are thimble-riggers ?
  • In Wuthering Heights , what's a thible ?
  • Which Hemingway story references the running of the bulls" in Spain?"
  • What's a clink? My dad mentioned that his granddad was there for a long time during World War I.
  • If somebody is toady," does it mean they're ugly?"
  • Who said all's fair in love and war" and where?"
  • Why is there so much talk about baseball, especially Joe DiMaggio, in The Old Man and the Sea ?
  • In the movie Failure to Launch , there's a line that goes, Well, she certainly is yar," in reference to a yacht. What's yar ?"
  • What does mangle mean in Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • I got detention because a teacher said I was being contumacious . What's that?
  • What are encomiums?
  • What are billets in The Three Musketeers ?
  • In Orwell's 1984 , what is doublethink ?
  • What are orts ? That's a weird word that reminds me of orcs from The Lord of the Rings .
  • What are alliteration and assonance?
  • How is John the Savage's name ironic in Brave New World ?
  • What's quinsy?
  • What is a doppelgänger?
  • What is New Historicism?
  • I found the word unwonted in a book I'm reading. Is that a typo, you think?
  • In Heart of Darkness , what does cipher mean?
  • In the play The Glass Menagerie, would you describe Tom as selfish?
  • What does Kantian mean, from a philosophical perspective?
  • What's a colonnade ? My girlfriend is freaking me out with stories of her dream wedding where she walks down a colonnade. I know this is the least of my problems, but I'm curious.
  • My grandma says she knows how I feel when I knit my brows. Is she crazy?
  • Why is Shakespeare's play titled Julius Caesar , even though he is dead by Act III and plays a relatively small role?
  • I know bier has something to do with dead people, but what is it exactly?
  • My brainy brother owns a Harley and says his girlfriend is the pillion . Is he insulting her or just showing off?
  • I ran across the word mien in a book. Is it a typo?
  • Is a younker a person or a place?
  • Does precipitancy have something to do with the weather?
  • I'm writing a grade 12 comparative essay, and I need a book that I could compare with All Quiet on the Western Front. Any suggestions?
  • A friend says she suffers from ineffable sadness. What's ineffable ?
  • What's a scow ?
  • Is a maelstrom some kind of dangerous weather?
  • What is the meaning of this saying, The cat will mew and dog will have his day"?"
  • What is a paradox ?
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray mentions a panegyric on youth. What does that mean?
  • In Madame Bovary , what's a mairie?
  • In The Kite Runner, what's palliative mean?
  • So what's oligarchy ? In government class, my teacher mentioned that word when we were talking about the Blagojevich scandal in Illinois.
  • Is intrepidity a good thing or a bad thing?
  • My grandmother told me that she thinks grandpa should see an alienist. Does she think he's from another planet or what?
  • Do you have to have licentiousness to get your driver's license?
  • I ran across the word hardihood in something I read the other day. Is it some kind of clothing?
  • I saw mention of haversack in my history book. What does that word mean?
  • I'm guessing the word quadroon is four of something. But what's a roon?
  • I'm trying to understand Shakespeare's play, King Lear . Can you explain these quotes from Act 1, Scene 1?
  • In Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment , what's a samovar ?
  • I came across a music channel that featured tejano," and then I saw the same word when I was reading Bless Me, Ultima. What does it mean?"
  • In The Awakening , there's a term prunella gaiter." I'm guessing that gaiters are a type of covering for your legs, like the gaiters I use on my ski boots to keep snow out. But what the heck is prunella? Is it a purplish color like prunes?"
  • What's sedulous mean?
  • In Chapter 2 of Jane Eyre , what are divers parchments ?
  • A friend of mine said she hopes to get a counterpane for Christmas. What's that?
  • In Wuthering Heights, what does munificent mean?
  • The other day, my dad called my friends a motley crew. Is that his way of saying I should hang out with a different crowd?
  • Why is there an authorship problem with Shakespeare?
  • What is it called when something is out of place in time, like a jet stream in a movie about ancient Rome?
  • In 1984 , does Winston die from a bullet at the end of the book or is he in a dream-state?
  • I saw some old guy in a soldier's uniform selling fake red flowers. He said it was for Veterans Day. What's the connection?
  • I was kind of flirting with this really cute boy when my teacher told me to stop palavering. Did she want me to stop flirting or stop talking?
  • My grandmother says when she was a kid in China, she became Catholic because of the Mary Knows nuns. I tried to look that up on the Internet but couldn't find anything. Can you help?
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo , does cupidity mean love? I'm guessing that because of, you know, Cupid . . . Valentine's Day.
  • My theater teacher called me a name the other day. I don't think it was supposed to be a compliment. What's a somnambulist, anyway?
  • Why was Tartuffe such a jerk?
  • To Kill a Mockingbird has this word fey in it, but I don't know what it means. Does it mean short lived or fleeting?
  • In Pride and Prejudice , what's probity" &mdash
  • I never met my grandma, who my mom says lives in a hovel and wants her to move in with us. Then I saw that word in Frankenstein . What's a hovel? I thought it was like a place that had room service.
  • I have a friend who said something about phantasmagoric. That's not real, is it?
  • Which of the following literary devices is used in these poetic lines by John Milton?
  • In Faulkner's A Rose for Emily," what does noblesse oblige mean?"
  • What is love?
  • What is suggested by the coin image in Book II of A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • Why does Satan rebel against God?
  • I'm reading Candide, by Voltaire, and one of the dudes is an Anabaptist. What's that?
  • What does the poem Summer Sun" by Robert Louis Stevenson really mean?"
  • What did Shakespeare want to say about his beloved in Sonnet 18?
  • In Romeo and Juliet , who was the last person to see Juliet alive?
  • What is the Catechism?
  • What is the overall meaning of the poem Before The Sun," by Charles Mungoshi?"
  • What does ague mean?
  • Is there a reference to venereal disease in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • What is fantasy fiction?
  • What is the exposition in Othello ?
  • Who is the character Susan in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • What is a found poem?
  • What did Alice Walker mean in the essay Beauty"?"
  • Why did Dr. Frankenstein create his monster?
  • What is the name of the surgeon and the English ship he's on in Moby-Dick ?
  • What are the differences between an epic hero and a Romantic hero?
  • In Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, does Gail Wynand commit suicide or only close The Banner at the end of the novel? I'm in a literary dispute over this!
  • What did W.E.B. Du Bois mean when he wrote of second-sight?
  • What is nihilism, and what should I read to get a better understanding of it?
  • What is the difference between an atheist and an agnostic?
  • What are intelligent design and creationism and how are they related?
  • What is misanthropy ?
  • I would like to understand the poem Blight" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Please help."
  • Can you explain the significance of the question, Which came first, the chicken or the egg?""
  • In Little Lost Robot," by Isaac Asimov, why have some robots been impressioned with only part of the First Law of Robotics?"
  • Can you explain Cartesian Dualism and how Descartes' philosophical endeavors led him to dualism?
  • When reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice , what does entailment mean?
  • What does ignominy mean? (From Shelley's Frankenstein )
  • What does pecuniary mean? (From Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities )
  • How do I analyze Kant's philosophy?
  • What is an apostrophe in Macbeth ?
  • Is music a language?
  • Why should literature be studied?
  • In the book The Scarlet Letter , what is a vigil ?
  • The first week of school isn't even over yet and I'm already in trouble — I forgot my textbook at school and can't do my homework! What should I do now?!
  • What are the renaissance features/characteristics in Hamlet ?
  • What is the exact quote in Hamlet about something being wrong in Denmark? Something smells? Something is amiss?
  • What does Utilitarianism mean, from a philosophical perspective?
  • What was the form of English that Shakespeare used?
  • At the beginning of Act V, Scene 2 of Much Ado About Nothing, does Shakespeare insinuate that anything is going on between Margaret and Benedick?
  • What was the "final solution" in the book Night by Elie Wiesel?
  • With the many novels out there, is there a database of some sort that can narrow down your choices to a specific book of interest for pleasure reading? And if not, why hasn't there been?
  • How do you pronounce Houyhnhnms ? (From Swift's Gulliver's Travels )
  • I just took the quiz on The Great Gatsby on this site. How can Jordan Baker be described as a professional golfer? To my knowledge, the LPGA did not form until the mid-1950s. Shouldn't she be referred to as an amateur golfer instead?
  • What are the humanities?
  • If Father, Son, and Holy Ghost aren't names, what is God's name?
  • What classic novels take place in Florida?
  • In which Hemingway short story is the saying, "Children's shoes for sale"?
  • Who is the "lady" that Robert Plant speaks of in the song "Stairway to Heaven"?
  • Was Odysseus the one who planned the Trojan horse, in the Trojan War?
  • How do I get my smart-but-hates-to-read son interested in reading?
  • Poetry gives me problems. How can I figure out what poems are about?
  • How do you analyze a novel?
  • What does it mean to ululate ? (From Golding's Lord of the Flies )
  • Is ambrosia a salad? (From Homer's The Odyssey )
  • What is a harbinger ? (From Shakespeare's Macbeth )
  • What does it mean to be refractory ? (From Dickens' Great Expectations )
  • What is a querulous kid? (From Wharton's Ethan Frome )
  • What does the word runagate mean? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What is the word, imprimis ? (From Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew )
  • What does the word alchemy mean? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What is an estuary ? (From Conrad's Heart of Darkness )
  • What or who is a scullion ? (From Shakespeare's Hamlet )
  • What is a schism ? (From Swift's Gulliver's Travels )
  • What does it mean to be salubrious ? (From Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights )
  • What is a replication ? (From Shakespeare's Hamlet )
  • What is vicissitude ? (From Hawthorne's The House of Seven Gables )
  • Can you define indolent ? (From Wharton's House of Mirth )
  • What does the word replete mean? (From Shakespeare's Henry V )
  • What are orisons ? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What does it mean to be ephemeral ?
  • What does it mean to be placid ? (From Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre )
  • What is a paroxysm ? (From Stoker's Dracula )
  • My English teacher got really mad when I said I was nauseous . Why?
  • What does it mean to be farinaceous ? (From Tolstoy's Anna Karenina )
  • What does dejection mean? (From Shelley's Frankenstein )
  • What is animadversion ? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What does it mean to be timorous ? (From Shakespeare's Othello )
  • Someone called me erudite . Is that good?
  • What is a mountebank ? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What does incarnadine mean? (From Shakespeare's Macbeth )
  • What does it mean to be puissant? (From Shakespeare's Julius Caesar)
  • What is a purloiner? (From Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities)
  • What does it mean to be affable ? (From Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment )
  • What does it mean to be ostensible ? (From Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court )
  • What does compunction mean? (From Dickens's Bleak House )
  • What is behoveful ? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What is a precentor ? (From Golding's Lord of the Flies )
  • What does it mean to be loquacious ? (From Cervantes's Don Quixote )
  • What does imprudence mean? (From Ibsen's A Doll's House )
  • What is a conflagration ? (From Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde )
  • What does it mean to be spurious ? (From James' Daisy Miller )
  • What is a retinue ? (From Swift's Gulliver's Travels )
  • What does the word forsworn mean? (From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet )
  • What does the word hauteur mean? (From Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby )
  • What are vituperations ? (From Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl )
  • What are ostents ? (From Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice )
  • What is a sockdolager ? (From Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn )
  • What does insuperable mean? (From Shelley's Frankenstein )
  • What is calumny ? (From Shakespeare's Hamlet )
  • What is an augury ? (From Sophocles' Antigone )
  • What does squally mean? (From Dickens' Great Expectations )
  • What does corporal mean? (From Shakespeare's Macbeth )
  • What does it mean to be plausible ? (From Sinclair's The Jungle )
  • What is a dearth ? (From Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre )
  • What does it mean to vacillate ? (From Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest )
  • What does it mean to obtrude someone? (From Dickens's Great Expectations )
  • What is a heterodox ? (From Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter )
  • What is felicity ? (From Austen's Emma )
  • What does it mean to be effacing ? (From Adams's The Education of Henry Adams )
  • What is a repast ? (From Chan Tsao's Dream of the Red Chamber )
  • What does insouciance mean? (From Sinclair's The Jungle )
  • What is a soliloquy ? (From Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn )
  • I was reading The Iliad and there's this word in it: greaves . What's that?
  • What does the word prodigality mean? (From Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby )
  • Is there an easy way to understand The Canterbury Tales ?
  • What does the scarlet letter symbolize?
  • What is the significance of Grendel's cave in Beowulf ?
  • How did Hawthorne show that Hester Prynne was a strong woman in The Scarlet Letter ?
  • What purpose do the three witches serve at the beginning of Macbeth ?
  • What can you tell me about Grendel from Beowulf ?
  • What figurative language does Stephen Crane use in The Red Badge of Courage ?
  • Why is Roger so mean in Lord of the Flies ?
  • How do Gene and Finny mirror each other in A Separate Peace ?
  • The old man and the young wife — what's up with story plots like this?
  • What part does vengeance play in The Odyssey ?
  • What kind of a woman is Penelope in The Odyssey ?
  • Do fate and fortune guide the actions in Macbeth ?
  • How does Frankenstein relate to Paradise Lost ?
  • How has the way people view Othello changed over time?
  • How does Henry change throughout The Red Badge of Courage ?
  • What's so great about Gatsby?
  • How is To Kill a Mockingbird a coming-of-age story?
  • Why did Ophelia commit suicide in Hamlet ?
  • What is the setting of The Scarlet Letter ?
  • What is a slave narrative?
  • What's an anachronism ?
  • Doesn't Raskolnikov contradict himself in Crime and Punishment ?
  • What is the main theme of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ?
  • What does Shakespeare mean by memento mori ?
  • What are inductive and deductive arguments?
  • How does Alice Walker break the rules" of literature with The Color Purple ?"
  • What role does Friar Laurence play in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • Why did Elie Wiesel call his autobiography Night ?
  • How does Shakespeare play with gender roles in Macbeth ?
  • Where did Dickens get the idea to write A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • What's the purpose of the preface to The Scarlet Letter ?
  • What role do women play in A Tale of Two Cities ?
  • Who are the heroes and villains in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
  • What are the ides of March?
  • Was Kate really a shrew in The Taming of the Shrew ?
  • What role does innocence play in The Catcher in the Rye ?
  • How are Tom and Huck different from each other in Huckleberry Finn ?
  • What is blank verse and how does Shakespeare use it?
  • How do the book and film versions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest differ?
  • What is a satirical novel?
  • What is the role of censorship in Fahrenheit 451 ?
  • How can I keep myself on track to get through my summer reading list?
  • How does Jim fit into the overall theme of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ?
  • What is a major theme of The Great Gatsby ?
  • How does Shakespeare use light and darkness in Romeo and Juliet ?
  • Who is the narrator in Faulkner's A Rose for Emily"?"
  • In Lord of the Flies , what statement is William Golding making about evil?
  • How is The Catcher in the Rye different from other coming-of-age novels?
  • How does Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird show two sides?
  • Was there supposed to be a nuclear war in The Handmaid's Tale ? I couldn't tell.
  • Does Jonas die at the end of The Giver ?
  • What is an inciting incident, and how do I find one in Lord of the Flies ?
  • How does King Arthur die?
  • In Julius Caesar , what does this mean: Cowards die many times before their deaths
  • How do you write a paper on comparing a movie with the book?
  • Please explain this Kipling quote: Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.""
  • What is a tragic flaw?
  • What is a motif, and how can I find them in Macbeth ?
  • Why didn't Socrates write any books? After all, he was supposed to be so intelligent and wise.
  • Why are there blanks in place of people's names and places in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice ?
  • Was Othello a king? A prince? He's referred to as My Lord" but I'm not sure of his actual title."
  • I need to download some pictures of Juliet. Where would I find these?
  • Why does Odysseus decide to listen to the Sirens, in The Odyssey , by Homer?
  • What does prose and poetry mean? What's the difference?
  • In The Scarlet Letter, why is the scaffold important and how does it change over the course of the novel?
  • Why does the legend of King Arthur hold such a powerful grip over us?
  • Do you like to read books?
  • What are the metrical features in poetry?
  • What are the riddles that Gollum asked Bilbo in The Hobbit ?
  • Can you tell me what these two quotes from Much Ado About Nothing mean?
  • What is connotation, and how do you find it in a poem?
  • What is a dramatic monologue?
  • What is formal fallacy?
  • In the movie Dead Poets Society, what are some themes and values that are relevant to Transcendentalism. What is Transcendentalism?
  • Why didn't Mina Harker realize she was under Dracula's spell when she witnessed her friend fall prey to him, too? Wasn't it obvious?
  • In The Three Musketeers by Dumas, Cardinal Richelieu is labeled as the villain. How could he be presented as a hero instead?
  • In Romeo and Juliet , what are the different types of irony used? Um, what's irony?
  • What is the main theme in Fahrenheit 451 ?
  • In Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities , what fact in Book the Second: Chapters 1-6, confirms Darnay's release?
  • Why is Invisible Man considered a bildungsroman?
  • In A Doll's House , what risqué item does Nora reveal to Dr. Rank that eventually prompts him to disclose his own secret?
  • What is a definition of short story?
  • What percentage of people are considered geniuses?
  • How do I write and publish my own novel?
  • Do I use the past or present tense to answer this question: What is this poem about?" "
  • A Closer Look at Internships
  • Consider Working for a Nonprofit Organization
  • Create a Top-Quality Cover Letter
  • Deciding Whether to Go for Your MBA
  • Dress the Part for a Job Interview
  • Appropriate Attire: Defining Business Casual
  • Famous Americans Who Started Out in the Military
  • The Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization
  • Five Job Interview Mistakes
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  • Lying on Your Resume
  • Make the Most of Days between Jobs
  • Military Career Opportunity: Translators and Interpreters
  • Network Your Way into a Job
  • Prepare for a Job Interview
  • Preparing for Job Interview Questions
  • Putting Your English Degree to Work
  • Putting Your Education Degree to Work
  • Take Advantage of Job and Career Fairs
  • Tips for a Better Resume
  • Understand Negotiable Elements of a Job Offer
  • Visit the College Career Office
  • Write a Resume That Will Get Noticed
  • Write a Thank You Note after an Interview
  • Writing a Follow-Up Letter after Submitting Your Resume
  • Your Military Career: Basics of Officer Candidate School
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  • Know What to Expect in Graduate School
  • Paying for Graduate School
  • Plan for Graduate Education
  • Tackle the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • What Does School Accreditation Mean?
  • Writing Essays for Your Business School Application
  • Apply to Graduate School
  • Basic Requirements for Grad School
  • Choose a Graduate School
  • Decide if Graduate School Is Right for You
  • English Majors: Selecting a Graduate School or Program
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  • Graduate School Application: Tips, Advice, and Warnings
  • Graduate School: Applying as a Returning Student
  • How to Find a Mentor for Graduate School
  • How to Prepare for Grad School as an Undergrad
  • How Work Experience Affects Your MBA Application
  • Master's Degree in Biology: Choosing a Grad School
  • In what countries does Toyota produce and market cars?
  • How would you use the PDSA cycle in your personal life?
  • I am confused about adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing negative numbers.
  • Who are some famous female mathematicians?
  • Given the set of numbers [7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42], find a subset of these numbers that sums to 100.
  • The speed limit on a certain part of the highway is 65 miles per hour. What is this in feet per minute?
  • What is the sum of the angles of an octagon?
  • In math, what does reciprocal mean?
  • How many grams in an ounce?
  • A number is 20 less than its square. Find all answers.
  • How much is 1,000 thousands?
  • How do I find the angles of an isosceles triangle whose two base angles are equal and whose third angle is 10 less than three times a base angle?
  • Explain with words and an example how any number raised to the zero power is 1?
  • If I had 550 coins in a machine worth $456.25, what would be the denomination of each coin?
  • What three consecutive numbers add up to 417?
  • How many 100,000,000s in 50 billion?
  • Of 100 students asked if they like rock and roll or country music, 7 said they like neither, 90 said they like rock and roll, and 57 said they like country music. How many students like both?
  • What's the formula to convert square feet into square meters?
  • In math, what is the definition of order of operations?
  • What's the difference between digital and analog?
  • What is the square root of 523,457?
  • What are all of the prime numbers?
  • Our teacher told us to look for clues in math word problems. What did she mean?
  • How do I figure out math word problems (without going crazy)?
  • What good is geometry going to do me after I get out of school?
  • I keep forgetting how to add fractions. Can you remind me?
  • My teacher talks about the Greatest Common Factor. What's so great about it?
  • Got any tips on finding percentages of a number?
  • What does associative property mean when you’re talking about adding numbers?
  • How do I use domain and range in functions?
  • How do I change percents to decimals and fractions? How about decimals and fractions to percents?
  • What should I do if my teacher wants me to solve an inequality on a number line?
  • What is a fast and easy way to work word problems?
  • How do you combine numbers and symbols in an algebraic equation?
  • How do I go about rounding off a number?
  • What is the First Derivative Test for Local Extrema?
  • Can you describe a prism for me?
  • How can I double-check my answers to math equations?
  • How do you factor a binomial?
  • I get the words mean , mode , median , and range mixed up in math. What do they all mean?
  • How do you combine like terms in algebra?
  • Can you make it easier for me to understand what makes a number a prime number?
  • Explain probability to me (and how about some examples)?
  • Solving story problems is, well, a problem for me. Can you help?
  • What's inferential statistics all about?
  • Finding percentages confuses me. Do you have any tips to make it simpler?
  • What's a quadratic equation, and how do I solve one?
  • How do you figure out probability?
  • How do you add integers?
  • How do you use factoring in quadratic equations?
  • What are limits in calculus?
  • I've looked everywhere to find the meaning of this word and I can't find it. What's the definition of tesseract ?
  • In geometry, how do you get the perimeters of a square and a rectangle?
  • What is the absolute value of a negative number?
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  • Why is space exploration important?
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  • What is the difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites?
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  • What are tectonic plates?
  • I have boy trouble. I want to ask out my friend, but I am not sure he is going to say yes. Plus, he said he had a girlfriend when we talked during school. Plus, my parents don't want me to date.
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  • Do you really shrink at the end of the day and then grow in the morning?
  • What is the difference between matter" and "mass"?"
  • What does "nature versus nurture" mean?
  • What are closed contour lines?
  • What is homeostasis ?
  • What does the periodic table look like?
  • Do you know anything about the law of conservation of energy? Is it really a law?
  • I thought I knew what work means, but my physics teacher defines it differently. What's up with that?
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  • Can you explain what molar mass is?
  • Aren't fungi really plants?
  • What information is contained in a chemical equation?
  • What are the endocrine and exocrine systems?
  • How do electrical charges interact?
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  • Why would anybody think there might be life on another planet?
  • What are chemical solutions?
  • Do you know of any way to simplify the overall subject of biochemical genetics?
  • Can a loud noise really shatter glass?
  • How do magnetic fields work?
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  • What role does the thyroid gland play in the human body?
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  • How many laws of motion did Newton come up with, and what are they?
  • What in the world is constructive and destructive interference?
  • How do viruses do their dirty work?
  • What do bones do, except give us a skeletal structure?
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  • My teacher keeps talking about solubility. What does that mean, anyway?
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The term "experimental theatre" has changed over time, as mainstream theatre has accepted many forms that were once considered radical. It is pretty much used interchangeably with the term avant-garde theatre .

Still confused? Consider this: A production of Tennessee Williams's Cat On a Hot Tin Roof would be naturalist, while Blue Man Group puts on something more experimental. As Blue Man Group grows in popularity and their shows influence more theatrical troupes and writers, however, something even more experimental eventually will come along.


The Rise of Experimental Theatre

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Theatre has always been a space for creativity and experimentation. From Shakespeare’s intricate plays to the contemporary works of Lin-Manuel Miranda, theatre has been an evolving art form that has captured the imagination of audiences for centuries. However, in recent years, a new form of theatre has been on the rise – experimental theatre. In this article, we will explore the techniques used in experimental theatre and the benefits it can bring to both performers and audiences.

Experimental theatre is a form of performance that breaks away from traditional theatrical norms. It is characterized by its use of unconventional techniques, themes, and structures. Experimental theatre often blurs the line between performance and audience, challenging the audience’s expectations and involvement in the performance. It can take on many different forms, from immersive theatre experiences to site-specific performances.

Techniques Used in Experimental Theatre

One of the defining features of experimental theatre is its use of unconventional techniques. Here are some techniques commonly used in experimental theatre:

1. Physical Theatre

Physical theatre is a performance style that emphasizes the body as a means of communication. It can include elements such as dance, mime, and acrobatics. Physical theatre is often used in experimental theatre to explore themes that are difficult to express through traditional dialogue.

2. Improvisation

Improvisation is a technique where performers create a performance on the spot, without a script. Improvisation is often used in experimental theatre to create a sense of spontaneity and unpredictability.

3. Non-linear Narratives

Non-linear narratives are a technique used to tell a story out of order, often with multiple storylines running simultaneously. This technique is used in experimental theatre to challenge the audience’s expectations of a traditional story structure.

4. Audience Participation

Audience participation is a technique used to involve the audience in the performance. It can include elements such as interactive elements, voting, or even allowing audience members to join in the performance. This technique is often used in experimental theatre to create a sense of community and engagement.

Benefits of Experimental Theatre

Experimental theatre can bring many benefits to both performers and audiences. Here are some benefits of experimental theatre:

1. Creativity and Innovation

Experimental theatre allows performers to explore new techniques and ideas, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in theatre. This creativity and innovation can lead to new forms of theatre and storytelling.

2. Audience Engagement

Experimental theatre often challenges the audience’s expectations and involvement in the performance. This engagement can create a more immersive and meaningful theatre experience.

3. Inclusivity

Experimental theatre can be more inclusive than traditional theatre, allowing for a wider range of performers and stories to be told. This inclusivity can lead to more diverse and representative theatre.

Experimental theatre is a growing trend in the theatre world, offering a new and exciting way of exploring the art form. Through its use of unconventional techniques and focus on audience engagement, experimental theatre can challenge both performers and audiences. As theatre continues to evolve, experimental theatre will undoubtedly play an important role in shaping its future.

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Experimental theatre  

From the art and popular culture encyclopedia.

Ubu Roi

Experimental theatre (also known as avant-garde theatre ) began in Western theatre in the late 19th century with Alfred Jarry and his Ubu plays as a rejection of both the age in particular and, in general, the dominant ways of writing and producing plays. The term has shifted over time as the mainstream theatre world has adopted many forms that were once considered radical.

Like other forms of the avant-garde , it was created as a response to a perceived general cultural crisis. Despite different political and formal approaches, all avant-garde theatre opposes bourgeois theatre. It tries to introduce a different use of language and the body to change the mode of perception and to create a new, more active relation with the audience.

Relationships to audience Social contexts Methods of creation Physical effects Key figures Writers List of experimental theater groups India United Kingdom Canada United States Australia and New Zealand India Egypt Italy Netherlands Belgium Ecuador Brazil See also Key figures Writers Directors

Relationships to audience

Famed experimental theatre director and playwright Peter Brook describes his task as building "… a necessary theatre, one in which there is only a practical difference between actor and audience, not a fundamental one."

Traditionally audiences are seen as passive observers. Many practitioners of experimental theatre have wanted to challenge this. For example, Bertolt Brecht wanted to mobilise his audiences by having a character in a play break through the invisible "fourth wall," directly ask the audience questions, not giving them answers, thereby getting them to think for themselves; Augusto Boal wanted his audiences to react directly to the action; and Antonin Artaud wanted to affect them directly on a subconscious level. Peter Brook has identified a triangle of relationships within a performance: the performers' internal relationships, the performers' relationships to each other on stage, and their relationship with the audience. The British experimental theatre group Welfare State International has spoken of a ceremonial circle during performance, the cast providing one half, the audience providing another, and the energy in the middle.

Aside from ideological implications of the role of the audience, theatres and performances have addressed or involved the audience in a variety of ways. The proscenium arch has been called into question, with performances venturing into non-theatrical spaces . Audiences have been engaged differently, often as active participants in the action on a highly practical level. When a proscenium arch has been used, its usual use has often been subverted.

Audience participation can range from asking for volunteers to go onstage to having actors scream in audience members' faces. By using audience participation, the performer invites the audience to feel a certain way and by doing so they may change their attitudes, values and beliefs in regard to the performance's topic. For example, in a performance on bullying the character may approach an audience member, size them up and challenge them to a fight on the spot. The terrified look on the audience member's face will strongly embody the message of bullying to the member and the rest of the audience.

Physically, theatre spaces took on different shapes, and practitioners re-explored different ways of staging performance and a lot of research was done into Elizabethan and Greek theatre spaces. This was integrated into the mainstream, the National Theatre in London , for example, has a highly flexible, somewhat Elizabethan traverse space (the Dorfman), a proscenium space (the Lyttelton) and an amphitheatre space (the Olivier) and the directors and architects consciously wanted to break away from the primacy of the proscenium arch. Jacques Copeau was an important figure in terms of stage design, and was very keen to break away from the excesses of naturalism to get to a more pared down, representational way of looking at the stage.

Social contexts

The increase of the production of experimental theaters during the 1950s through the 1960s has prompted some to cite the connection between theater groups and the socio-political contexts in which they operated. Some groups have been prominent in changing the social face of theatre, rather than its stylistic appearance. Performers have used their skills to engage in a form of cultural activism. This may be in the form of didactic agit-prop theatre, or some (such as Welfare State International ) see a performance environment as being one in which a micro-society can emerge and can lead a way of life alternative to that of the broader society in which they are placed. For instance, in a study of South American theatrical developments during the 1960s, the Nuevo Teatro Popular materialized amid the change and innovations entailed in the social and political developments of the period. This theatrical initiative was organized around groups or collective driven by specific events and performed themes tied to class and cultural identity that empowered their audience and help create movements that spanned national and cultural borders. These included Utopian projects, which sought to reconstruct social and cultural production, including their objectives.

Augusto Boal used the Legislative Theatre on the people of Rio to find out what they wanted to change about their community, and he used the audience reaction to change legislation in his role as a councillor. In the United States, the tumultuous 1960s saw experimental theater emerging as a reaction to the state's policies on issues like nuclear armament, racial social injustice, homophobia, sexism and military-industrial complex. The mainstream theater was increasingly seen from as a purveyor of lies, hence, theatrical performances were often seen as a means to expose what is real and this entails a focus on hypocrisy, inequality, discrimination, and repression. This is demonstrated in the case of Grotowski , who rejected the lies and contradictions of mainstream theater and pushed for what he called as truthful acting in the performances of his Poor Theater as well as his lectures and workshops.

Experimental theatre encourages directors to make society, or our audience at least, change their attitudes, values, and beliefs on an issue and to do something about it. The distinction was explained in the conceptualization of experimentation that "goes much deeper and much beyond than merely a new form/or novel content" but "a light that illuminates one's work from within. And this light in the spirit of quest - not only aesthetic quest - it is an amalgam of so many quests - intellectual, aesthetic, but most of all, spiritual quest."

Methods of creation

Traditionally, there is a highly hierarchical method of creating theatre - a writer identifies a problem, a writer writes a script, a director interprets it for the stage together with the actors, the performers perform the director and writers collective vision. Various practitioners started challenging this and started seeing the performers more and more as creative artists in their own right. This started with giving them more and more interpretive freedom and devised theatre eventually emerged. This direction was aided by the advent of ensemble improvisational theater, as part of the experimental theatre movement, which did not need a writer to develop the material for a show or "theater piece." In this form the lines were devised by the actors or performers.

Within this many different structures and possibilities exist for performance makers, and a large variety of different models are used by performers today. The primacy of the director and writer has been challenged directly, and the directors role can exist as an outside eye or a facilitator rather than the supreme authority figure they once would have been able to assume.

As well as hierarchies being challenged, performers have been challenging their individual roles. An inter-disciplinary approach becomes more and more common as performers have become less willing to be shoe-horned into specialist technical roles. Simultaneous to this, other disciplines have started breaking down their barriers. Dance , music , visual art and writing become blurred in many cases, and artists with completely separate trainings and backgrounds collaborate very comfortably.

Physical effects

Experimental theatre alters traditional conventions of space ( black box theater ), theme, movement, mood, tension, language, symbolism, conventional rules and other elements.

Key figures


  • Antonin Artaud (Theatre of Cruelty)
  • Eugenio Barba
  • Julian Beck
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Carmelo Bene
  • Augusto Boal (Theatre of the Oppressed)
  • Giannina Braschi
  • Bertolt Brecht (Epic Theatre)
  • Peter Brook
  • Roberto Castello
  • Joseph Chaikin
  • Robert Cohen (Transversal Theater Company)
  • Jacques Copeau
  • Richard Foreman
  • Joel Gersmann
  • Andre Gregory
  • Jerzy Grotowski (Poor Theatre)
  • Peter Handke
  • Sophie Hunter
  • Eugene Ionesco
  • Young Jean Lee
  • Isabelle Junot
  • Tadeusz Kantor
  • Adrienne Kennedy
  • Jan Lauwers (Needcompany)'
  • Elizabeth LeCompte '
  • Dimitris Lyacos
  • Judith Malina
  • Caden Manson "(Real Time Film)"
  • Richard Maxwell
  • Vsevolod Meyerhold (Biomechanics)
  • Ariane Mnouchkine
  • J.L. Moreno
  • Heiner Müller
  • Jemma Nelson
  • Annie-B Parson
  • Suzan-Lori Parks
  • Luigi Pirandello
  • Sreejith Ramanan
  • Bryan Reynolds (Transversal Theater Company)
  • Marttah Viktoria Robles (Pecatta Capitalia)
  • Carl Hancock Rux
  • Supriyo Samajdar (Bibhaban - experimental theatre)
  • Richard Schechner
  • Viola Spolin
  • Ellen Stewart
  • Giorgio Strehler
  • Tadashi Suzuki
  • Cynthia Tribalo
  • Jean Pierre Voos
  • Mac Wellman
  • Robert Wilson
  • Vahram Zaryan
  • Maria Kassiani Panoutsou (Actress- Director)

List of experimental theater groups

  • Alternative Living Theatre
  • Kalakshetra,Manipur
  • Experimental Theater (NCPA)
  • Curtain Call Productions (Hyderabad)
  • The Lord Chamberlain's Men
  • Orchesterated Q'works

United Kingdom

  • Reckless Sleepers
  • Forced Entertainment
  • Welfare State International
  • The Danuki Ensemble
  • Proto-type Theater
  • Third Angel
  • Stan's Cafe
  • Lone Twin Theatre
  • People Show
  • Gob Squad (Anglo-German)
  • Desperate Optimists
  • The Kadozuke Kollektif
  • The Ensemble Project Canada
  • Suburban Beast
  • Theatre Encounter
  • Vault Projects
  • The Irondale Ensemble Project Canada
  • DNA Theatre
  • Small Wooden Shoe
  • Swallow A Bicycle
  • Theatre Replacement
  • Leaky Heaven
  • One Yellow Rabbit
  • Boca del Lupo
  • Mammalian Diving Reflex
  • Electric Company Theatre
  • bluemouth inc.
  • Zuppa Theatre Co.
  • The Chop Theatre
  • Radix Theatre
  • Rumble Productions
  • Ruby Slippers
  • Catalyst Theatre
  • Battery Opera
  • Productions Recto-Verso

United States

  • Double Edge Theatre
  • The Satori Group (Seattle)
  • Big Art Group
  • Bread and Puppet Theater
  • Broom Street Theater
  • Cangue League
  • Cock and Bull Theatre (Chicago)
  • Neo-Futurists
  • Elevator Repair Service
  • Great Jones Repertory Company at La MaMa, E.T.C.
  • Fordham Experimental Theatre
  • Ashes Company (New York)
  • The Living Theatre
  • Mabou Mines
  • Margolis Brown Adaptors Company (New York)
  • Monk Parrots
  • The Open Theater
  • Ontological-Hysteric Theater
  • Playhouse of the Ridiculous
  • Squat Theatre
  • The Tantalus Theatre Group
  • The Wooster Group
  • Andy's Summer Playhouse (New Hampshire)
  • The Changing Scene (Colorado)
  • Provincetown Players
  • Magic Theatre (Omaha)
  • Skewed Visions (Minneapolis)
  • Performance Space 122 (New York)
  • Corner Theatre ETC (Baltimore)
  • Theater Mitu
  • Young Jean Lee 's Theater Company
  • The National Theater of The United States of America
  • Big Dance Theater
  • Nature Theater of Oklahoma
  • Bedlam Theatre (Edinburgh, not Minneapolis)
  • Core Theatre Ensemble (Hampton Roads, VA)
  • The Irondale Ensemble Project NYC
  • The Rude Mechanicals
  • Bridge Street Theatre

Australia and New Zealand

  • The Sydney Front
  • TropicSun Theatre
  • Free Theatre Christchurch
  • Binge Culture
  • kalakshetra, Manipur
  • Bibhaban-The Experimental Theatre Company
  • Fanny & Alexander
  • Opera (Vincenzo Schino)
  • Ricci/Forte
  • Societas Raffaello Sanzio
  • Teatrino Clandestino
  • Teatro Valdoca


  • Transversal Theater Company
  • Needcompany
  • Marttah Viktoria Robles
  • Denise Stoklos
  • Performance art
  • Physical theatre
  • Postdramatic theatre
  • Experimental theatre in the Arab world
  • Fringe theatre
  • Antonin Artaud ( Theatre of Cruelty )
  • Jean Cocteau
  • Elizabeth LeCompte

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A Brief Intro to… Experimental Theatre

when did experimental theatre begin

It was church services at Easter in the tenth century that popularised theatrical entertainment in Britain, and by the fourteenth century, it was standard practice to perform Bible stories. From the mid-fifteenth century hundreds of indoor and outdoor theatres were emerging in London, the most famous being the Globe, well-known for staging Shakespeare’s works.

Experimental theatre (also known as avant-garde theatre) began in Western theatre in the late 19th century with Alfred Jarry and his Ubu plays as a rejection of both the age in particular and, in general, the dominant ways of writing and producing plays. The term has shifted over time as the mainstream theatre world has adopted many forms that were once considered radical.

Like other forms of the avant-garde, it was created as a response to a perceived general cultural crisis. Despite different political and formal approaches, all avant-garde theatre opposes bourgeois theatre. It tries to introduce a different use of language and the body to change the mode of perception and to create a new, more active relation with the audience.

Traditionally, there is a highly hierarchical method of creating theatre – a writer identifies a problem, a writer writes a script, a director interprets it for the stage together with the actors, the performers perform the director and writers collective vision. Various practitioners started challenging this and started seeing the performers more and more as creative artists in their own right. This started with giving them more and more interpretive freedom and devised theatre eventually emerged. This direction was aided by the advent of ensemble improvisational theater, as part of the experimental theatre movement, which did not need a writer to develop the material for a show or “theatre piece.” In this form the lines were devised by the actors or performers.

Within this many different structures and possibilities exist for performance makers, and a large variety of different models are used by performers today. The primacy of the director and writer has been challenged directly, and the director’s role can exist as an outside eye or a facilitator rather than the supreme authority figure they once would have been able to assume.

As well as hierarchies being challenged, performers have been challenging their individual roles. An inter-disciplinary approach becomes more and more common as performers have become less willing to be shoe-horned into specialist technical roles. Simultaneous to this, other disciplines have started breaking down their barriers. Dance, music, visual art and writing become blurred in many cases, and artists with completely separate trainings and backgrounds collaborate very comfortably.

Here in the UK, it was companies such Shunt and Punchdrunk as well as performances like ‘ You Me Bum Bum Train ’ that helped introduce experimental and immersive theatre to the masses.

Shunt, a London-based performance collective, was founded in 1998. Most of the co-founders of Shunt met at Central School of Speech and Drama in London on the Advanced Theatre Practice MA in 1997/1998, which specialises in collaborative practice. Shunt’s work is centered on immersive, site-specific performance, usually in a grand scale, and has been supported by Britain’s Royal National Theatre, NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and Arts Council England. It has been the subject of much critical and academic discussion over the last decade. Some believe the idea of Shunt is to “challenge the model of the single author” but the founding idea was simply to “explore the live event”. The group agrees on a theme or subject and as individual artists they all contribute proposals for scenes. Though they strive for minimal hierarchy, there are normal roles that the artists fulfill later in the process, such as lighting designer, sound designer, director, performers etc.

Punchdrunk was formed in 2000, by Artistic Director Felix Barrett MBE. Since its inception, Punchdrunk has pioneered a form of “immersive” theatre in which the audience is free to choose what to watch and where to go. This format is related to “promenade theatre” but Felix Barrett prefers the term “site-sympathetic” when describing their work. In a typical Punchdrunk production, audience members are free to roam the performance site, which can be as large as a five-story industrial warehouse. They can either follow the performers and themes (there are usually multiple threads at any instant), or simply explore the world of the performance, treating the production as a large art installation. Masks are another signature element of Punchdrunk’s work. Barret says when the company “…introduced masks, suddenly inhibition fell away and people found a sense of freedom in their anonymity, allowing them to fully explore their surroundings and become totally absorbed in the world around them.”

You Me Bum Bum Train is an Interactive theatre performance devised by Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd in 2004. The pair met as art students in Brighton, where they were studying illustration and film. The show gained critical acclaim in the United Kingdom when it was awarded the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust prize while showing in a disused office in London. In 2010 it won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for outstanding newcomer.

Visitors to the performance pass through a series of scenes of which they have no foreknowledge, in which they are either passive or where they must improvise a part without any preparation.

Nowadays we have a vast array of theatres and venues enjoy experimental shows and festivals and in London we are especially spoilt for choice. One of the most atmospheric locations to see a performance is undoubtedly The Vaults, home to immersive theatre and alternative arts (and located right here on Leake Street!).

We chatted with Ami Stidolph, Head of Theatre at The Vaults , to get a better idea of the immersive theatre world today.

How did you get into theatre? I grew up in Chichester, which has a fantastic theatre and a fantastic youth theatre which I loved being a part of. I never really set out to pursue it as a carrer, but I had so much fun doing those shows that I couldn’t keep away.

What’s the best theatre show you’ve seen? Tonnes spring to mind – His Dark Materials at the National, Taking Sides at Chichester, a fringe production of Henry IV I saw in some tiny place one.

What are your favourite types of theatre production? I’m a huge Shakespeare lover, but I work in immersive theatre so I always enjoy seeing something very unusual. I’m a big puppetry fan as well.

Which theatre companies are really pushing the boundaries of theatre? Oof tough as that question could mean so many things, but I’ll always book to see the work of Kill the Beast , Complicite , and DryWrite .

What is the concept behind Vaults theatre? The Vaults theatre is built upon our beautiful space. Stepping in here is an experience and an atmosphere in itself so we bounce off that as a start. We’re neighbours with some fantastic theatres which we don’t want to (and frankly can’t) compete with, so it’s our job to try to offer something genuinely different. Immersive and experiential theatre is really growing and we want to be a huge part of that force.

What’s the best show you’ve seen at Vaults? Oh gosh there’s so many – recently Trainspotting and Red Wolf , which was part of VAULT Festival .

What type of person does immersive theatre appeal to? Interesting question! We try to come at each production individually in terms of who we’re appealing to, as immersive theatre is a broad spectrum. But I suppose our core audience base is often adventurous young adults (20 – 35).

What’s the most insane thing you’ve seen/heard of in the immersive theatre world? Every time I do a show people come up with these ideas and technologies that seem so close to actual magic to me – our next show (Sounds and Sorcery) uses binaural sound technology on wireless headphones so I’m now learning about that. But the madness of it really is you’re asking people to literally step in to a new world, meaning you just can’t work out what the audience will do. They might punch an actor, or drop their trousers and wee in the middle of the show (really) or get so involved they point-blank refuse to leave the set. But those are, weirdly, the great bits, because every show is genuinely different from the last because it is responsive.

What’s the future of theatre? Crikey.  Sadly I don’t have a Charlie-Brooker-esque insight in to what the new trend, or technology, or fad will be, but I hope we can keep being responsive to what people both want and need in their lives and create work around that.  The future of theatre always has been, and always will be, about reflecting what is going on the world, and people, and what people are like and why they’re like that. It’s cheesy but it’s true.

#VaultsTheatre #LeakeStreetArches #culture #theatre #Art #experiemental #VAULTfestival #immersive

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Experimental theatre in the twentieth century: avant-gardism, the absurd, and the postmodern

  • Published: 30 April 2014
  • Volume 42 , pages 341–358, ( 2015 )

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when did experimental theatre begin

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Modern drama is still patently viewed as moving from the realistic Ibsen and the naturalistic Strindberg to the socially, politically, and psychologically oriented "problem plays" of the twentieth century (and beyond), fed occasionally by assorted "techniques" from aberrant avant-garde movements. This essay, agrues, by contrast, for a revisionist history of modern drama that would acknowledge the innovative and visionary contributions of "modernism," as linked to the historical and literary avant-garde, be it in the form of expressionism, symbolism, futurism, dada, or surrealism. From the inception of the absurd, moreover, avant-garde drama has certainly not ceased to proliferate. Yet in the late 1960s we entered the era of postmodernism, in which two events occurred to halt the "advance" of avant-garde drama. The first is the embrace by postmodern playwrights of a stylistic pluralism, an eclectic and often selfreflexive interweaving of different styles drawn from different time periods. The second is the deification of postmodern performance through the merging of author and director into a single "superstar." The most significant efforts of the avant-garde do continue to involve the self-conscious exploration of the nature, limits, and possibilities of drama and theater in contemporary society; but the vision of and for the future manifest in such work remains tentative and unclear, it is as though the avant-garde could not overcome the doubt and distrust foisted upon its potential for inspired vision.

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Apollinaire, G. (1964). “Preface” to The breasts of Tiresias: A surrealist drama (Louis Simpson, Trans.). In M. Benedikt & G. E. Wellwarth (Eds.), Modern French theatre: The avant - garde, dada, and surrealism; an anthology of plays (pp. 56–62). New York, NY: Dutton.

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Jung, C. G. (1971). On the relation of analytical psychology to poetry (R.F.C. Hull, Trans.). In J. Campbell (Ed.), The portable Jung (pp. 301–322). New York, NY: Viking.

Kornfeld, P. (1963). Epilogue to the actor (Joseph Bernstein, Trans.). In W. Sokel (Ed.), Anthology of German expressionist drama: A prelude to the absurd (pp. 6–8). Garden City, NY: Anchor/Doubleday.

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Poggioli, R. (1968). The theory of the avant - garde (Gerald Fitzgerald, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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1960’s – Experimental Theatre

The Russian Revolution by Bradford Art College Theatre Group, 1967. A large group of men and women in long black coats hold weapons, loud speakers, one has a bike, some are carrying papers. A march.

The short read For an insight into this work look at Unfinished Histories excellent archive, particularly the Albert Hunt/Bradford Art College Theatre Group .

The long read Andrew Davies’ classic Other Theatres: the Development of Alternative and Experimental Theatre in Britain (Barnes and Noble, 1987) is a great overview of the development of this radical approach.

Immersed in a radical social and political climate, a new wave of artists and theatre makers tired of convention began to experiment with theatrical form.  They broke down the fourth wall , performed in non-traditional spaces, moved away from naturalism , created work collaboratively, experimented with audience participation, made multi-disciplinary performance and often told stories that hadn’t been seen on theatre stages before.  Though radical at the time, these approaches have been so influential that they are considered the norm in participatory theatre performance today.  Contemporary companies like Invisible Flock build on this experimental legacy and continue to break new ground in participatory theatre form, making what they call ‘interactive art’, operating at the cutting edge of art and technology.

when did experimental theatre begin

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Experimental theatre: Then and now

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Throughout history, directors and playwrights have tried pushing the boundaries of conventional theatre pieces. In the late 19th century, fringe theatre (also known more popularly today as experimental theatre) became a popular movement in Western theatre as a way to reject common notions of society and theatre at the time.

In what’s considered to be the earliest ‘mainstream’ fringe production, French writer Alfred Jarry produced his Ubu Roi play, causing much disturbance from the public as it’s theorized the play’s use of vulgar language led to its outlaw from the stage. The play came at a time of revolutionary importance as French theatre began to shift over into a new territory of modernism. While parts of the play today would seem arbitrary and frivolous, because the director left the majority of the play up to the audience’s interpretation, at the time the symbolism held a deep resonance on the audience and the play itself led to modernism and future experimental theatre to become popularized throughout the world.

Today, experimental theatre has grown as a more accepted form of theatre. In New York City, the popular theatre attraction Sleep No More pushes the audience’s a-typical standards of plays by introducing Shakespeare’s Macbeth almost as if it were an exhibit piece. Requiring the audience to remain silent throughout, audience members are asked to analyze complicated set pieces and follow fast-paced actors running through rooms to understand the story.

Alternative to single productions, progressive theatre groups are found worldwide. Introducing seasons of experimental theatre pieces, these groups generally have a mission to challenge their audiences and critics through expressive theatre that pushes boundaries.

One group in particular, SKaGeN, produces performances in the Belgium and Netherlands area. Founded in 2001, SKaGeN comprises of Valentijn Dhaenens, Korneel Hamers, Mathijs Scheepers and Clara van den Broek. While these people might not be familiar on a name basis, in their homeland SKaGeN has developed into one of the leading Flemish theatre companies of the current generation. Driven by a desire to combine artistic standards and accessibility, the group has produced various acclaimed experimental theatre shows. One in particular that has gained worldwide attention is Valentijn Dhaenens’s Bigmouth .

Comprised of fragments from powerful speeches from Martin Luther King to Osama bin Laden, the one-man powerhouse show features Dhaenens shifting his ton, accent, and even language to convey potency of word’s whispered, shouted, and spoken. This show has received international acclaim from UK’s Guardian newspaper to a sold-out gig at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, one of the largest arts festivals in Scotland.

On January 15th, 2016 at 8:00 PM, Valentijn Dhaenens will perform his universally acclaimed Bigmouth to Pasant Theatre’s stage. Tickets are available at Wharton Center’s box office, whartoncenter.com, or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

Members of the editorial and news staff of USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.

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Experimental Theater

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During the 1920s, European theater had become too tame and predictable. Bertolt Brecht decided to try new experiments: for example actors would "break the 4th wall" and ask the audience questions. His critique of hypocrisy in church, business, and government caused protests by the rising Nazi movement. Fleeing for America, he worked with director Fritz Lang on a noir film about the assination of Heydrich, chief architect of the Holocaust. Ever since Brecht, experimental theater has been associated with social justice.

During the 1960s, experimental theater was used by groups to aid the civil rights movements. For example, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater performed in both English and Spanish, traveling around the boroughs of New York City to give voice to immigrant families struggling with unfair practices. In the 1970s, theatre practitioner Augusto Boal created a Theater of the Oppressed in Brazil, using techniques similar to Brecht's to turn spectators into "spect-actors" that allowed the audience to explore social transformations.

Today's experimental theater incorporates a wide variety of technology-based special effects, strategies, and techniques. For example, Radio Healer is a Xicana/o and Native American led art collective in Phoenix, Arizona. They describe themselves as “hacker-artists who create Indigenous electronic tools.” They cite examples such as the low-rider chop shop, or the “making do” repairs common to native communities, to show that technology/culture mash-ups are just as much a part of their histories as pow-wows and quinceañeras. Many of their performances reimagine traditional ceremonies as spaces in which the public is invited to reflect on issues such as obsolescence, consumption, border control, and surveillance. On the other side of the Atlantic, historian, writer, and performer Dr. Edson Burton is preparing the first AfroFuturist theater production in Bristol, England: The Last Blues Song of a Lost Afronaut . It will use 3D sound, shadow capture, and digital projection to make alien environments a vivid presence to the audience, and interactive components will using optical and auditory sensors to trigger other effects.

when did experimental theatre begin

Fritz Lang working on Brecht's movie script.

when did experimental theatre begin

The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.

when did experimental theatre begin

Radio Healer's unique mix of Indigenous and high tech artifacts.

when did experimental theatre begin

Set from Edson Burton's immersive play Last Blues Song of a Lost Afronaut

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when did experimental theatre begin

Experimental Theatre or Trying Something New

Looking through the history of theatre, we can find many and various ways of making theatre and plays. Traditionally, there is a hierarchical method of creating theatre – a writer writes a script, a director interprets it for the stage, and the performers perform.

Practitioners started changing this and started seeing the performers as creative artists, and giving them more interpretive and creative freedom.

In Western theatre, in the late 19th century, appears a number of various theatrical styles and movements, known as Experimental theatre.

Here we can mention the Alfred Jarry and his Ubu plays as a rejection of the dominant ways of writing and producing plays. At that time, the acceptable conventions were pretty narrow and leaned towards naturalism, which strives to reality in the style of acting. Experimental theatre means trying something new.


The experimental is term that changed over time as the mainstream theatre and the world has adopted many forms that were considered as radical. It is used interchangeably with the term avant-garde theatre. Like other forms of the avant-garde, it was created as a response to a perceived general cultural crisis. Beside different political and formal approaches, all avant-garde theatre opposes bourgeois theatre. They have been coined for the sake of critical convenience, critics are confronted by theatre which is not a “real” play (not based in text), they see it as foreign to tradition that it must be defined as “experiment”.

This term been used since the middle of the twentieth century with many other terms: “event” or “Happening” in the 1950s; “multimedia” in the 1960s; “visual theatre” in the 1970s; Performance Art in the 1980s; Live Art in the 1990s.

It introduces a different use of language and the body, and tries to change the perception on the theatre and plays and to create a new, active relation with the audience.


Theatres and performances are trying to involve the audience in a variety of ways, as active participants. Audience participation can range from asking for volunteers to go onstage to having actors scream in audience members’ faces, the performer invites the audience to feel a certain way.

Theatre spaces took on different shapes, and practitioners re-explored different ways of staging performance and a lot of research was done into Elizabethan and Greek theatre spaces, sometimes it was integrated into the mainstream theatre. Experimental theatre and participants wanted to change their community, and to used the audience reaction to change some attitudes, values and beliefs.

Some groups changed the social face of theatre, performers used their skills to engage in a cultural activism. Performance environment became a micro-society that can lead a way of life alternative to that the broader society. Experimental theatre alters traditional conventions of space, movement, mood, tension, language, symbolism, and other elements.

Today, theatre many different structures and possibilities for performance makers, and a variety of different models used by performers. The primacy of the director and writer has been challenged, and the directors’ role can exist as an outside eye rather than the supreme authority figure.

Performers have been challenging their individual roles, an inter-disciplinary approach becomes more and more common as performers have become less willing to be shoe-horned into specialist technical roles. Other disciplines have started breaking down their barriers and stage became open for many of them  as  dance, music, visual art and writing , and artists with completely backgrounds collaborate.


Experimental theatre is practiced and today in 21 century and there are many artist all over the world that are looking for new forms and methods of expression true the experimental theatre and they show there plays, art works and performances in many international festivals, and some of them are: Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Cairo International festival for Experimental Theatre, Shanghai International Experimental Theatre Festival, MAN.In.FEST – International Festival of Experimental Theatre, Spill experimental theatre festival at Time Out London and many other.


Ten incredible roles of one of the best, meryl streep, joan miro, famous spanish surrealist artist, the beauty of vintage posters, the nine muses, cancun underwater museum, wonderful experience, ten unusual sculptures in unusual places, conect with us, latest articles, 5 surprising facts about shakespeare, the deference between theatre and theater – finally explained, the day of audition, 7 really good reasons to join a theatre group, forms and sizes of theatre buildings, machinal – tragic story about one woman, are audience in theatres loud, or quiet today, tabac rouge at the 2015 sydney festival, 20 interesting facts about musical urinetown, the phantom of the opera, how to behave when you visit theatre.

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when did experimental theatre begin

Power to the People: Experimental Theatre in the 1960s

A number of sub-cultures, all characterised by some form of reaction against the customs and mores which had predominated since the end of the Second World War (and indeed a good deal longer) began to take distinctive shape around the years 1958-59 in all of the Western nations. These sub-cultures expanded, interlinked with, and absorbed, each other, so that by the early 1970s the cultures of the Western nations, and indeed of the West as a whole, had been transformed.

when did experimental theatre begin

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when did experimental theatre begin

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  • > The People and Places of Experimental Theatre Scholarship:...

when did experimental theatre begin

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Computation, theatre scholarship, and distant reading, close reading 3,051 sentences, who makes experimental work, the shifting geographies of experimental work, the people and places of experimental theatre scholarship: a computational overview.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 January 2023

The “experimental” playwrights of continental Europe have been experimental not because they have imitated modern literature or poetry, but because they have sought to express themselves in theatrical terms, and the great directors, like Jouvet, Barrault, Viertel, and Brecht have been there to make their plays “exist” on the stage.

Considering the institutional frames of Sighing , Tian Mansha's production is a star-centred experimental xiqu work.

Sixty years separate these two sentences—yet both are statements found in a dataset about experimental theatre. The first one references playwrights and directors in Europe. The article from which it is taken compares the situation in Europe to that in the United States (which Hoffman, a legendary director-educator then based in New York, refers to as “our theatre”). The second sentence talks about Sighing, an experimental adaptation of 戏曲 ( xiqu, Chinese opera) by Tian Mansha, one of the most internationally renowned Sichuan opera performers at the time of writing. These two sentences are, respectively, one of the oldest and one of the most recent entries in a dataset of sentences about experimental theatre. The first mentions four men and deals with a Euro-American genealogy of experimental theatre. The second mentions a woman, and explores the meanings of experimental performance in Mainland China and Taiwan. These two sentences are indicative of a larger trend: the progressive diversification of the people and places mentioned in the scholarship on experimental performance. As we might expect, increasingly more women and more places outside of Europe and North America were mentioned in six decades worth of academic articles. However, drilling into the data shows that this story is more complicated. Women became increasingly associated with experimental performance over time, but for almost every year on record, more than half the people in this dataset were still men. In contrast, a diversification of the places started much sooner and increased at a faster pace: as the results below show, in the twenty-first century the vast majority of places mentioned in connection to experimental performance were located outside Europe and North America. Data add nuance and precision to our impressions. If we believe that the diversification of the people and places of theatre scholarship matters, data make important contributions to our methodological palette.

This paper's conclusions are based on a large dataset of theatre scholarship that was analyzed with the help of computational tools. Despite the relative newness of its methods, this project continues a scholarly tradition interested in historicizing how experimental theatre is conceptualized and discussed. Perhaps the most influential example of this tradition is James Harding's The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s) , which chronicles the ways in which scholars have emphasized and downplayed different accents of meaning of the term “avant-garde.” Footnote 3 Harding writes that “to speak of the avant-gardes necessitates speaking of how the avant-gardes have been received and conceptualized in cultural criticism.” Footnote 4 Harding's book-length history requires a nimble analytical disposition capable of tracing changing contexts and meanings. In comparison, my brief piece of data history focuses on the who and where of experimental theatre scholarship. Histories such as Harding's use the terms “avant-garde(s)” and “experimental” somewhat interchangeably, and focus predominantly on a Euro-American context. The present overview is more expansive in its scope inasmuch as it considers the entire corpus of sentences about experimental work written in theatre research articles, but the price I pay for this expansion is a razor-thin focus on a single term, which necessarily leaves many things out.

All scholarship entails trade-offs of selection and omission, and I hope to convince readers that the conclusions that follow are worth the limitations imposed by computational research. As Debra Caplan notes, “data-driven theatre history, at its best, can reveal previously invisible patterns.” Footnote 5 The patterns I find here are perhaps not wholly invisible, but without data they are blurred and imprecise. Bringing them into sharp relief does not displace other modes of knowing, but suggests novel questions that might in turn be explored by close reading and traditional historiographic methods. Sarah Bay-Cheng notes that digital tools change the practice of historiography, enabling an interactive, performative way of interrogating the past. Footnote 6 This applies not only to the records of performance, but also to our own scholarship. For this research project, I created a new command line interface to help me reimagine the records of theatre scholarship interactively. Below, I give a nontechnical overview of this method and highlight the interpretive moves that underpin my approach.

When Debra Caplan wrote the influential “Notes from the Frontier: Digital Scholarship and the Future of Theatre Studies” in 2015, she dedicated substantial attention to justifying the importance of digital methods for theatre. Footnote 7 In the span of just a few years, her predictions have come true, and the work she describes has increasingly moved from the frontier to the center. Theatre Journal has dedicated two entire issues to digital theatre scholarship, book-length studies of theatre and digital humanities have been published, a working group dedicated to digital research meets regularly at IFTR, and ATHE gives an annual award for digital scholarship. Footnote 8 Among other things, theatre scholars have used digital methods to study changes in the lengths of production runs, patterns of collaborations among artists, and the cultural transmission of influential playscripts. Footnote 9

The digital humanities are an even more mature field in literary studies, and several influential monographs have been published in recent years. Footnote 10 Literary scholars have also used digital methods to study their fields scholarly production. Andrew Piper's Can We Be Wrong? Textual Evidence in a Time of Data analyzes the prevalence of “generalization” in literary scholarship using machine learning. Footnote 11 To the best of my knowledge, theatre scholars have yet to take advantage of such approaches to study our vast scholarly record. However, focusing on scholarship itself as an important object of study is an uncontroversial research strategy. Take, for example, Shannon Jackson's monumental Professing Performance , which takes scholarship as primary evidence for reconstructing the intellectual history of performance studies across various institutional contexts. Footnote 12

Computational tools enable us to ask these questions at a different scale and afford a level of systematicity that is useful for certain types of question. For example, digital methods have been shown to be especially important when studying representation and diversity. Deb Verhoeven and collaborators have used network analysis to identify structural causes that prevent women from occupying leading creative roles in the film industry. Footnote 13 Counting Together ( https://countingtogether.org/ ) is a database that collects statistics on race, gender, and disability in American theatre. Richard Jean So's Redlining Culture uses a host of computational tools to study racial and gender diversity in postwar American literature. Footnote 14

For this article, I participate in a form of “distant reading” that requires computer-assisted manual classification. As Ted Underwood notes, distant reading encompasses a wide range of activities that may not necessarily be explicitly computational. Footnote 15 Some forms of distant reading could be described as systematic reading, such as Underwood's own analysis of literary time. Footnote 16 In one article, he used digital tools to visualize the data, but the dataset itself was the product of human annotation. This type of work has long roots in the social sciences, where such “qualitative analysis” is often aided by specialized software such as NVivo and ATLAS.ti. The objective of software such as these is to help researchers systematically annotate or classify portions of text (typically from interviews, but also from media reports and other sources). I call the approach I use here “data-assisted” research, a term I have defined more extensively elsewhere, and which I contrast to “data-driven” methodologies. Footnote 17 In data-driven methodologies , data are used to answer specific questions. Researchers create a formal representation of a question and automate a sequence of procedures to provide an answer. The criteria for evaluation are defined beforehand, and the answer is measured against these criteria. In data-assisted methodologies , in contrast, researchers use data to transform their view of a problem. In these approaches, the purpose of framing a theatrical event as data is not to offer a clear answer but to augment our capacity to think about such an event. Data, in other words, provide a good defamiliarization strategy.

Many recent digital humanities projects use computational methods that rely heavily on machine learning techniques. Footnote 18 Though the promise of such computational work is doubtless exciting, computer-aided qualitative text analysis also holds great promise. The latter approach is particularly useful for relatively small datasets (e.g., thousands of datapoints) and for messy data where automation is difficult and a human observer can classify data in ways that are faster or more accurate.

The present study fits both of these conditions. I developed a custom piece of software that allowed me to tag and classify Named Entities (people, places, and companies; hereinafter NEs) semiautomatically within a few thousand sentences. My custom program displayed each sentence individually, in chronological order, and highlighted a number of potential NEs, which I then verified manually. Verification was necessary because some of the potential NEs were false positives, and some NEs were not initially captured. At a second stage, I classified each verified NE according to different categories, as I explain later.

Manual annotation is at the heart of this data-assisted approach, in ways that differ from those of other researchers in the computational humanities, who are interested in developing fully automatic solutions to classification problems. However, it must be noted that even “fully automatic” solutions require human annotators manually to tag a subset of the data, which can be used to draw more generalizable inferences using machine learning (ML). Typically, these systems take a long time to train (the technical term for fitting a model to a portion of the data) and validate, and even the most robust models are never 100 percent accurate, and they can consume large amounts of computational resources. Footnote 19 Larger datasets justify the effort and resources needed to train and deploy such models. But in my case, I had a reasonably “small” dataset that did not, in my opinion, justify the trade-offs required by ML. Thus, I chose to use my time and energy to tag and verify each datapoint manually. That being said, my methods are still computational inasmuch as they are enabled by a custom piece of software that aimed to make my tagging and validation process as fast and reliable as possible.

My custom software was built using the Python programming language and a host of open-source libraries. Footnote 20 The program added my manual tagging decisions to a dataset, and new entries were verified against this dataset to ensure consistency and to increase the accuracy of potential NEs in subsequent sentences (see the screenshot in Fig. 1 ). To display the sentences and the potential NEs I relied on an interactive command line interface (CLI). CLIs might seem arcane or difficult, but they afford enormous flexibility and ease of use. Developing these interfaces is very straightforward, especially when compared to graphic user interfaces with buttons and other features. They require relatively little time to code, and allow a researcher to make changes constantly.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 1. Screenshot of the custom Command Line Interface (CLI) developed for this research project.

When manually revising a dataset of this size (fewer than three thousand items), I find it easier to use the keyboard and a combination of keys for operations that I have to repeat over and over. This adds flexibility, reduces frustration, and ensures higher quality. I used the Rich library to add color to the interface (typically CLIs are black and white) so that potential NEs and NEs already in a dataset could be displayed in different colors. Rather than merely an aesthetic decision, I find that this keeps me alert when doing repetitive work and helps minimize errors. The interface also displayed the current rate of progress—this was important for minimizing frustration, an important consideration given that tagging the NEs took several weeks. Minimizing frustration and ensuring quality and ease of use are fundamental for this type of computationally enabled, systematic reading of thousands of instances. Footnote 21

Software such as the one I built for this project can be thought of as computational assistants, simple programs tailored for specific research objectives rather than full-fledged pieces of software ready to be used in multiple situations. For the reasons given above, I think it makes sense for researchers invested in the systematic manual analysis of thousands of items to develop their own custom software. Out-of-the box solutions for this type of work exist, and they are typically used for manually annotating interviews and other textual records by researchers in the social sciences (such as NVivo and Atlas.ti, as noted earlier). But one distinction between these software packages and my custom-built program is that my solution uses bespoke computational components to learn from my choices and update itself according to parameters within my control. I also find the ability to fully customize shortcuts and the distraction-free environments of CLIs justification enough to develop this type of software.

This study relied on data from Constellate, a portal for textual analytics from JSTOR and Portico. Using this service, I constructed a dataset that includes the metadata and unigram counts (the frequency of single words) for all articles of the following theatre journals: Tulane Drama Review, TDR/The Drama Review, Theatre Research International, PAJ/Performing Arts Journal, New Theatre Quarterly, Theatre Topics, Theatre Survey, Theatre Journal, and Modern Drama. Originally, I also included articles from Educational Theatre Journal (the predecessor of Theatre Journal ). However, the online archive for this journal is patchy, as many extant articles for the early years are not research articles but progress on doctoral dissertations or items such as “don'ts for theatre builders”—hence the data for this journal were discarded.

The metadata for the articles include information such as the author, document type, name of the journal, number of pages, date of publication, a unique identifier, and the title of the article. The initial dataset comprised 19,661 titles. Constellate collections are very comprehensive, but some articles are duplicated as they are part of both the JSTOR and the Portico collections. Some journals are covered exclusively by one database, but there is significant overlap, so this required an additional step of deduplication (the technical term for removing duplicates). A complicating factor is that at times the titles are not exact matches, as sometimes a subtitle is missing, markup information (i.e., HTML codes for italics) is present in only one of the datasets, and some non-Latin characters are incorrectly displayed in the Portico dataset (the JSTOR dataset has gone through additional layers of cleaning and is more reliable). Identifying and removing near-duplicates is called fuzzy deduplication, and it is an important part of many data projects. Footnote 22

In order to carry out this process, I created another custom Python script using Pandas (a general purpose library for data science) and FuzzyWuzzy (a library to detect similar strings of texts). If two titles were from the same year and the similarity between them was above a 90% threshold, the script kept only the title in JSTOR (the preferred version). If both versions were from Portico, it kept the one that did not include markup, which was not important for the present research. In order to ensure maximum data quality, I manually verified every flagged title before removal, also using a CLI as the one described earlier.

The Constellate metadata are very comprehensive but not error-free: not all items with the document type of “article” are actual articles. Many of the retrieved documents are letters to the editor, front and back matter, and book reviews. Using another custom script, I removed all “articles” that actually belonged to these categories by relying on regular expressions. A regular expression or regex is a sequence of textual symbols that specifies a search pattern. For example, I looked for titles that included patterns such as “Letter to” or “Letters to,” and manually verified each matching title before removing it from the dataset. After removing such items and keeping only confirmed academic articles, the final dataset comprised 8,938 articles, spanning sixty-three years between 1958 and 2020.

For these articles, I then inspected the unigram (single-word) counts. I counted the number of articles that included the word “experimental” at least once, and divided this number by the total number of articles for a given year. The resulting ratio is the percentage of articles in any given year that includes the word “experimental” at least once. Figure 2 shows this percentage for every year as a bar, as well as the centered, five-year moving average as an overlaid solid line.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 2. Percentage of articles per year that include the word “experimental” at least once. The bars indicate the raw percentage. Note: In this and other figures, the lines always depict a five-year, centered moving average, and thus always end in 2018 (the last year for which this can be calculated, as the dataset ends in 2020).

This visualization indicates a clear, if slightly subtle upward trend that peaks at around 25 percent in the 2000s and 2010s. There is a surprising dip in the 1970s, but overall increasingly more articles include the word “experimental” over time. How meaningful is this pattern in the context of theatre scholarship? To answer this question, I also calculated the percentages of three other terms: “contemporary,” “modern,” and “avant-garde*” (the asterisk denoting that I combined searches for “avant-garde” and “vanguard,” two terms that are often used interchangeably). Figure 3 presents the five-year, centered moving average for each of these terms. This visualization shows that the trend of “avant-garde*” is similar to that of “experimental” until the 1990s, at which point it starts becoming less common. In contrast, “modern” and “contemporary” are always disproportionally more common than “experimental.” “Contemporary” continues in an upward trend into the late 2010s, whereas the frequency of “modern” starts to decay in the late 2010s. Both terms also dip in the 1970s—note that these percentages are adjusted for the total number of articles in any given year, so they cannot be explained away by decreases or increases in that total. The pattern for “experimental” looks less dramatic in this comparison than it did in Figure 2 . We can say that, although there is a slight upward trend, the usage of “experimental” remains reasonably consistent when placed against the backdrop of other terms with more dramatic changes over time.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 3. Percentage of articles per year that include the words “contemporary,” “modern,” “avant-garde*,” and “experimental” at least once. The lines indicate the five-year, centered moving average.

Given the trend described above, another question arises: Are the mentions of “experimental” consistent across the various journals? Figure 4 shows the arithmetic mean and standard deviation for the percentage of articles that include the word “experimental” across the different journals. There is some variation, from over 10 percent to 25 percent in the arithmetic means of the journals. Note that PAJ and Performing Arts Journal are treated as separate journals, even if there is a historical continuity between them. However, the mean and standard deviation of both journals is not substantially different, and jointly they include a larger percentage of articles with “experimental” than any other journal.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 4. Percentages of yearly articles with the word “experimental” per journal. The gray bars indicate the arithmetic mean values, and the solid darker lines indicate the standard deviation. On the vertical axis, the journals are ordered by the arithmetic mean, from smaller (top) to larger (bottom).

Besides analyzing the data above, which are directly accessible from the Constellate portal, I made an additional data request directly to the Constellate team, and they kindly provided me with a dataset of every sentence that uses the word “experimental” from all the theatre journals mentioned above. (They used the Python NLTK package to segment the articles into sentences.) The dataset included all sentences and unique identifiers, and I used these to remove all items that were discarded from the original dataset (duplicates and items that were not academic articles, as noted above).

After deduplication, the final dataset comprised 3,051 sentences. I then close-read each of these sentences and used the custom-built Python CLI described earlier to tag people, places, and theatre companies or collectives mentioned in those sentences semiautomatically. The identification of people, places, and companies in this manner is called Named Entity Recognition (NER). Many research projects, including some in digital humanities, often rely on automatic NER. Footnote 23 This works better for some fields than others—for example, identifying names of US politicians in news articles typically yields high accuracy. Footnote 24

I could have relied entirely on an automatic system for NER and estimated its accuracy (e.g., by manually tagging a random subset of the sentences and comparing it with the results of automatic NER in the same subset). I could then use this to estimate false positives and false negatives in the NER. I could determine that a result above a certain threshold (say, 80%? or 90%?) is acceptable. However, given that my dataset is still reasonably small and within a scale where manual inspection is possible (if labor-intensive), I decided to take a different approach. I used an automatic NER system (using the library spaCy) to flag potential NEs in each sentence and then manually verified each flagged named entity. Besides increasing accuracy, there is another important reason why I preferred this semiautomatic approach: I wanted to ensure that only NEs directly described in connection to experimental art were included. To this end, I first discarded sentences that referred to experimental science or experimental medical treatments (and there were more such sentences that I had previously imagined). Given the extensive references to other art forms, I decided to keep references not only to performance but also to literature, music, and film. If I had not read at least a subset of the sentences closely, I might have missed this characteristic of the dataset.

Second, I made a conscious decision to extract NEs only in the portion of a sentence that is about experimental art. Sometimes many people and places are described in the space of a single sentence, and I kept only those places and people directly and explicitly described as experimental. Consider this sentence in an article by Guillermo Gómez-Peña as an example:

The four-day Arty-Gras included art workshops for children, poetry readings, experimental video at Larry's Giant Sub Shop, performances by the Emperor Oko Nono and the Georgia Independent Wrestling Alliance, the Oakhill Middle School Band, the Haramee African Dance Troupe, Double Edge Dance and Music, and the Baldwin High School Concert Choir, and an exhibition by Chicano artist Robert Sanchez. Footnote 25

While many places, people and companies are mentioned here, only video is described as experimental. The only relevant NE is Larry's Giant Sub Shop. However, as I explain below, I was interested only in specific references to cities, countries, regions, and continents. I could have searched for the specific location of the Larry's Sub Shop under consideration, but I did not pursue this level of specificity. Gómez-Peña could have written this sentence in a way that explicitly stated the name of a city (say, Palm Beach Gardens, FL). In that case, I would have included the city as a NE. There is, in other words, some level of “noise” in the data. Ultimately, I am making claims about what scholars have written, not about the geographies of experimental theatre as such . In the same vein, it is important to note that I am reworking these sentences into data, for a purpose very different from their intended objective. Most likely, when writing these words, Gómez-Peña never imagined that someone would be using his sentence in the way I am doing now. In explaining this limitation, I seek full methodological transparency so that readers of this article can determine whether my approach is reasonable and useful—and so that other people interested in verifying or expanding my results can follow different paths in subsequent data projects.

In spite of the limitations, I show that the data reveal fascinating trends about who is said to be making experimental work. But reaching these conclusions required additional layers of data cleaning and classification. In the sentences, people are often referred to by their last names. In cases where this happened—and where I could not determine the social identity of the person from the context—I read longer portions of the articles, and often additional sources, in order to ascertain the social identity of the person under consideration.

When evaluating potential people's names in the sentences, I chose only people who were described as artists and producers, rather than scholars whose ideas on experimental theatre were reported in the text. My focus was on the people involved in the creation of experimental art and performances, rather than on those who have theorized experimental theatre (which is also an interesting, but separate question). This means that I discarded Schechner when he was mentioned as a theorist, but not when he was described as an experimental director.

To calculate gender ratios, I included both proper names and pronouns. In some sentences people are described only by pronouns, and in those cases I used this pronoun information as proxy for gender. For proper names, I manually assigned each person to a social gender identity after individually researching each name. Sometimes people are referred to only by their last names, so I standardized all names after the initial process of semiautomated tagging. For this purpose, I again used FuzzyWuzzy to detect similar entities. In this case, the program matched partial ratios , when a string of text was identified within another string of text. This flagged “LeCompte,” “Elizabeth LeCompte,” and “Liz LeCompte” as potential matches. I manually verified every potential match before conflating them into a single standardized named entity and choosing a “canonical” name (“Elizabeth LeCompte” in the example above). Table 1 shows the ten women and men most often mentioned in the sentences. Figure 5 visualizes the ratio of women over time, both as raw percentages and as a five-year, centered moving average. This graph shows a steady increase in the percentage of women mentioned in connection to experimental work, with two “local peaks” in the 1980s and early 2000s. Shockingly, the percentage of women in the first two years was zero, and the percentage for any given year exceeded 50 percent only on two occasions.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 5. Percentage of women mentioned in sentences with the word “experimental.” The data combine proper nouns and pronouns. The bar plots indicate the raw percentages, and the solid line is the five-year, centered moving average.

Table 1. The ten women and men most often mentioned in the sentences

when did experimental theatre begin

The gender imbalance is striking if not totally surprising. Footnote 26 It must be noted that the binary approach to gender would be woefully inappropriate for other types of question. Gender is a textured and complex category whose construction is the subject of intense academic and artistic attention, especially in experimental theatre. Why then, still classify gender in this way? As scholars, we can be committed both to a textured understanding of gender, and also to highlighting imbalances in the representation of women in art and academia. Footnote 27 When identifying the social identity of each person, I manually sought out information on each of them (as noted above, this often meant extensive additional research). I followed each person's explicit statements of their gender identity when this information was available in an attempt to avoid misgendering a person—but this was harder to do with historical data and for artists for whom little information is known. This caveat should be taken into account when evaluating this type of research. Gender is not the only contested term that computational approaches aim to model in a way that reduces the complexity of a phenomenon—race is another such term. That being said, sometimes reducing the complexity of a term for the purpose of data representation reveals important imbalances. An excellent example comes from Redlining Culture by Richard Jean So, a data history of publishing in the United States that reveals the overwhelming extent to which people of color are underrepresented in book publishing. As So notes, “quantification always means losing something; thinking about race with numbers risks reduction and reification,” but it can also enable detailed follow-up studies and reveal patterns that are easy to miss when we focus only on individual examples. Footnote 28 The same attitude guides the present investigation—a desire for precision, tempered by a recognition of the importance of nuance. This type of work encourages, rather than forecloses, more detailed attention at a different scale of analysis (individual works and careers), but also helps to reveal important patterns and omissions at the level afforded by data.

One limitation of focusing on individual people is that often the sentences do not discuss only single artists and producers, but also companies and collectives. As noted above, I also tracked mentions of theatre companies. As with peoples’ names, sometimes the same company can be referred to in multiple ways (e.g., “The Living” is sometimes a shorthand reference to “The Living Theatre”). For this reason, I applied the same type of verification and named entity resolution described above in connection to peoples’ names to the company data. Figure 6 shows the top ten most common companies and collectives mentioned in the sentences, and their distribution over time.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 6. A bubble chart with the ten most common companies and collectives mentioned in the sentences. The horizontal axis shows the year of the mention. The diameter of the circles shows the comparative number of mentions in that given year. The companies/collectives are arranged in the vertical axis from the most common (top) to the tenth-most common (bottom).

The Women's Experimental Theatre, The Wooster Group, and Mabou Mines were all lead by women (and women have played crucial roles in others, such as The Living Theatre). But perhaps not surprisingly, the women associated with these companies are also the ones with the highest mentions in Table 1 (Sondra Segal, Roberta Sklar, Elizabeth LeCompte, JoAnne Akalaitis, and Judith Malina). We also see that two of the companies are outside of Europe/North America: Teatro de Ensayo (Chile) and Teatro Experimental de Cali (Colombia). However, looking at the distribution of the mentions over time shows that this is due to distinct bursts rather than continuous referencing. It is to this topic—the presence of artists and groups outside Europe and North America—to which I now turn.

For named places, I identified cities, provinces, countries, continents, and larger cultural regions (e.g., Latin America). In a second stage, I classified each of these toponyms as being either located in Europe and North America, or outside these regions. I did not include theatre venues, even though some (e.g., LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club) have been central to the history of experimental work, and terms such as Broadway, which refer to specific geographies. Figure 7 shows the percentage of places that are outside of Europe and North America in sentences with the word “experimental.” As before, this includes raw counts and the five-year, centered moving average.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 7. Percentage of places that are outside of Europe and North America in sentences with the word “experimental.” The bar plots indicate the raw percentages, and the solid line is the five-year, centered moving average.

The distinction between Europe/North America and “elsewhere” elides important differences (e.g., between Western and Eastern Europe), but, as in the case of gender, it helps shed light on histories of imbalance and change. As in the case of gender, this is a story of increased representation (see Fig. 7 ). Yet here, there were no mentions of any place outside Europe and North America before 1970—the first twelve years in the data. However, the increase in the presence of places outside Europe and North America is dramatic, with many years far exceeding 50 percent of all mentions, and becoming the norm in the last part of the 2010s. This steady increase could be due to the addition of journals to the dataset over time, as perhaps more recent journals had a more international orientation. To explore this alternative hypothesis, I plotted mentions of places outside Europe and North America in the Tulane Drama Review and TDR (which, combined, constitute the journal with the largest spread in the dataset), and compared this to all journals ( Fig. 8 ). Both curves (moving averages) tell stories of increased geographical diversity, but this was more pronounced in TDR for most years, except for the most recent five, during which combined counts for all journals overtook TDR . An important caveat for interpreting this graph is that the Tulane Drama Review  +  TDR data are counted twice: both on their own and as part of the combined totals. The reason why this makes sense is that the objective of the visualization is to show that the trend of the oldest journal in this dataset is not significantly different from the overall trend. Hence, the reason for the increased geographic diversity is not that Tulane Drama Review is the only journal for which data are available in the first few years.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 8. Percentage of places that are outside of Europe and North America in sentences with the word “experimental.” A comparison of all journals (dashed line) and Tulane Drama Review/TDR (solid line). Both lines represent five-year, centered moving averages.

So far, I have described the increasing geographic diversification in broad brush strokes, but what are the specific places mentioned in the sentences? As for other named entities, I also did a semiautomatic verification and resolution, conflating a range of terms together (i.e., NYC and New York City). Table 2 displays the ten most common cities and countries, and Figure 9 plots all mentioned cities in a world map. Notably, New York is disproportionally more common, with more than a thousand mentions, all other cities being in the order of tens, and this frequency was not represented visually in the map. When manually classifying geographical entities, I also identified a series of “larger regions,” but only a handful are mentioned more than once (Europe, 16; Africa, 6; Latin America, 3; Caribbean, 2; North America, 2). The same is true for provinces/states (California, 7; Michigan, 7; Québec, 4; Fujian, 3; Flanders, 2; Bali, 2; Ohio, 2).

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 9. A map of all cities mentioned in sentences with the word “experimental.”

Table 2. The Ten Most Common Cities, Countries, and Regions in the Sentences

when did experimental theatre begin

In comparison with the gender ratio visualization, here we see a clear dominance of places outside of “non-Western” spheres in more recent years. However, both the mentions of women and the mentions of places outside Europe and North America became increasingly common over time. Figure 10 places both trends side by side. We also see that, not only did the ratio of non-Western places increase at a faster pace, but it experienced its first peak much earlier. The reasons for these trends cannot be ascertained fully by the data collected here. My hope is that untangling the causal mechanisms of these patterns will prove a tantalizing question for other types of historical analysis in the future.

when did experimental theatre begin

Figure 10. A comparison of the percentage of women and the percentage of places that are outside of Europe and North America in sentences with the word “experimental.” Both lines represent five-year, centered moving averages.

The data analyzed so far indicate that the scope of experimental theatre, as represented in scholarship, became increasingly diverse over time (even if men continue to be more associated with experimental work than women). What do these results mean for the history of experimental theatre? The current analysis doesn't seek to disprove previous claims in experimental theatre scholarship or to make extant histories of this term any less useful or accurate. But the data do reveal that, collectively, when we as scholars talk about experimental theatre, we still have a tendency to talk about men, even if we have widened the geographical scope of the term “experimental.” What shall we do with this information? Perhaps it can help us think more closely about our own biases and change the direction of our future scholarship. When we talk to our colleagues and students about experimental work, of whom are we thinking? Are we unconsciously conjuring up images of John Cage and Jerzy Grotowski? Or are we also choosing our words and examples in ways that ensure our audiences are also picturing Judith Malina and Julie Taymor?

As I bring this article to a close, I want to highlight once again the many assumptions that are baked into the current analysis. First, these trends are based on scholarship, not on actual performances as counted by playbills or critic's reviews, and it would be fascinating to compare these data to other sources. A good inspiration for doing this is Derek Miller's analysis of Broadway, which demonstrates how we can compare actual show data to plays that are included in canonical scholarly collections. Footnote 29 Articles published in the 1980s might describe performances from the 1920s. Second, these results are based on sentences in which the word “experimental” was used. Choices of how individual writers decided to split ideas into sentences have influenced these results in ways that are hard to track. Fourth, the named entities and their trends are the result of highly interpretive decisions, as I focused only on artists and producers rather than scholars.

Listing these assumptions, as I have done, helps limit and contextualize the scope of my results. However, it also strengthens the research inasmuch as it renders my decisions and shortcomings visible. Others might disagree with my interpretive decisions in the handling of my sources, and an important characteristic of data work is that these decisions can be described and disproved by subsequent research.

One question I still have, and that this article doesn't even begin to explore, is whether male artists are discussed more often than female artists in general , across all theatre scholarship. Are male scholars more likely to talk about male artists? Are younger scholars more sensitive to gender imbalances in their choice of examples? These are important questions that I hope we will take seriously as a discipline and bring the best of our methods to bear upon, from close reading to computational techniques.

The limitations of this piece of data history, which I have tried to communicate as candidly as possible, might also help other people imagine new avenues for research. For example, this article focuses on sentences, as this is easy for a systematic first case study. But what about artists whose work is described at length in a single article? Do we see the same trends in such cases? As one anonymous reviewer of this article suggested, we could also further contextualize these results with some other possible terms and find trends for named entities near words such as “mainstream,” “commercial,” or “Broadway,” to name a few. This might require more advanced computational techniques that justify recourse to machine learning. As I noted earlier, I preferred to eschew this approach here, given the relative smallness of my dataset. But if we seek to expand our attention to longer portions of scholarly texts, the dataset will be much bigger and the trade-off of size and precision might no longer lead to the same methodological choices.

This paper identified a moderate increase in the representation of women in sentences about experimental work, and a more dramatic increase in the global geographies represented in the same dataset. However, the extent to which this is an eminently positive development should also be scrutinized with critical attention. It would be reductive to assume that every single label (modern, contemporary, classical, etc.) should be increasingly diverse. Perhaps, as the objects of scholarly attention become wider, the labels should also become more varied. There is a danger in recycling old terms to describe new work. As Rosella Ferrari notes in her study of experimental theatre in China, it is important to trace the Eurocentric assumptions of constructs such as the “avant-garde” before uncritically applying them to other contexts. Footnote 30

A fuller commitment to tracking the diversification of scholarship requires more studies similar to the present one. If we, as theatre scholars, are so inclined, we would need a more general and expansive analysis of all artists and places that have been described in scholarship. This type of work has been developed in other fields (such as the aforementioned analysis of literary scholarship by Andrew Piper), and data can help us better understand the history, diversity, and omissions of our collective work as scholars. The type of computational work outlined here, which combines systematic interpretive attention at the level of individual instances with the explanatory power of visualizations, can also be applied to understand further the shape and history of theatre research.

When collecting the data, I had expected that both geographical and gender diversity would rise slowly over time. But I believed that, by the second decade of the twenty-first century, the majority of people mentioned in the scholarship would still be men, and the majority of places would still be in Europe and North America. I was right in my first hypothesis, but I stand happily corrected on the second. This is why data and quantification matter. People are naturally good at noticing changes, but the vagaries of time-based trends might elude us if we don't rely on numbers. We might thus be blind to positive developments, or inattentive to truly dire imbalances, which might be worse than we fear. In other words, the main advantage of quantitative studies is that they give precise contours to the vague shape of our intuitions.

Tackling important issues requires seeking precise data when possible, and considering sources of uncertainty when needed. At the time of this writing, recent historical events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented floods in Europe and Asia have demonstrated all too well the challenges we face in areas such as public health and climate change. We might argue that the crises before us are evident even without looking at the numbers. But quantitative precision adds nuance and context to our impressions, and can help us better understand our current moment and our potential for future action. In the digital humanities, a particularly interesting example of data-supported strategies for real-world interventions is found in Verhoeven et al.'s use of simulations to model the impact of different policies that aim to bring greater gender equity and inclusivity to film production. Footnote 31 Empirical analyses backed by data cannot help but sharpen our perceptions and enhance our resolve to change what we see before us.

Miguel Escobar Varela is Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at the National University of Singapore. His primary area of research, often in collaboration with scientists and engineers, is the application of computational methods—including textual analytics, network analysis, image and video processing, and geospatial analysis—to the study of theatre. He is also involved in the development of multimedia interfaces for theatre research. His publications include Theater as Data: Computational Journeys into Theater Research (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and articles in such journals as Theatre Research International, Asian Theatre Journal, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, and Journal of Historical Network Research. A full list of publications and digital projects is available at https://miguelescobar.com .

I would like to thank Amy Kirchhoff, Ted Lawless, and the rest of the Constellate team for their support obtaining the data for this article.

1 Hoffman , Theodore , “ An Audience of Critics and the Lost Art of ‘Seeing’ Plays ,” Tulane Drama Review 4 . 1 ( 1959 ): 31–41 CrossRef Google Scholar , at 41.

2 Chen , Lin , “ Wounds of the Past: The Chuanju Performance of Qingtan (Sighing), ” New Theatre Quarterly 35 . 3 ( 2019 ): 221–37 CrossRef Google Scholar , at 231.

3 James M. Harding, The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s): Exorcising Experimental Theater and Performance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013).

4 Ibid ., 11.

5 Debra Caplan, “ Reassessing Obscurit y: The Case for Big Data in Theatre History,” Theatre Journal 68.4 (2016): 555–73, at 557.

6 Bay-Cheng , Sarah , “ Digital Historiography and Performance ,” Theatre Journal 68 . 4 ( 2016 ): 507–27 CrossRef Google Scholar .

7 Caplan , Debra , “ Notes from the Frontier: Digital Scholarship and the Future of Theatre Studies ,” Theatre Journal 67 . 2 ( 2015 ): 347–59 CrossRef Google Scholar , at 355–9.

8 Examples of the book-length analyses are Clarisse Badiot, Performing Arts and Digital Humanities: From Traces to Data (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2021) and Miguel Escobar Varela, Theater as Data: Computational Journeys into Theater Research (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021).

9 Miller , Derek , “ Average Broadway ,” Theatre Journal 68 . 4 ( 2016 ): 529–53 CrossRef Google Scholar ; Vareschi , Mark and Burkert , Mattie , “ Archives, Numbers, Meaning: The Eighteenth-Century Playbill at Scale ,” Theatre Journal 68 . 4 ( 2016 ): 597–613 CrossRef Google Scholar ; Bench , Harmony and Elswit , Kate , “ Mapping Movement on the Move: Dance Touring and Digital Methods ,” Theatre Journal 68 . 4 ( 2016 ): 575–96 CrossRef Google Scholar .

10 See, for example, Katherine Bode, A World of Fiction: Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018); Alan Liu, Friending the Past: The Sense of History in the Digital Age (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018); Andrew Piper, Enumerations: Data and Literary Study (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018); Ted Underwood, Distant Horizons: Digital Evidence and Literary Change (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019); Folgert Karsdorp, Mike Kestemont, and Allen Riddell, Humanities Data Analysis: Case Studies with Python (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021); and Hoyt Long, The Values in Numbers: Reading Japanese Literature in a Global Information Age (New York: Columbia University Press, 2021).

11 Andrew Piper, Can We Be Wrong? The Problem of Textual Evidence in a Time of Data (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 4.

12 Shannon Jackson, Professing Performance: Theatre in the Academy from Philology to Performativity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

13 Deb Verhoeven et al., “Controlling for Openness in the Male-Dominated Collaborative Networks of the Global Film Industry,” PLOS One 15.6 (2020): 1–23, e0234460, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234460 .

14 Richard Jean So, Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020).

15 Underwood , Ted , “ A Genealogy of Distant Reading ,” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly 11 . 2 ( 2017 ) Google Scholar .

16 Underwood , Ted , “ Why Literary Time Is Measured in Minutes ,” ELH 85 . 2 ( 2018 ): 341–65 CrossRef Google Scholar .

17 Escobar Varela, Theater as Data, 7–13.

18 Melanie Walsh and Maria Antoniak, “The Goodreads ‘Classics’: A Computational Study of Readers, Amazon, and Crowdsourced Amateur Criticism,” Post45 × Journal of Cultural Analytics 1.1 (2021).

19 For an overview of the sometimes staggering planetary and financial costs of training ML models see Kate Crawford, Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2021).

20 The libraries are Pandas v1.2.4, Seaborn v0.11.1, Matplotlib v3.4.2, Rich v10.1.0, FuzzyWuzzy v0.18.0, and spaCy v3.0.

21 For more on interactive systems for semiautomatic data annotation see Bárbara C. Benato et al., “Semi-Automatic Data Annotation Guided by Feature Space Projection,” Pattern Recognition 109 (2021), 107612, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.patcog.2020.107612 .

22 For more on fuzzy deduplication see S. Preetha Bini and S. Abirami, “Proof of Retrieval and Ownership for Secure Fuzzy Deduplication of Multimedia Data,” Progress in Computing, Analytics and Networking : Proceedings of ICANN 2017, ed. Prasant Kumar Pattnaik et al. (Singapore: Springer Nature, 2018): 245–55.

23 See, for example, Miguel Won, Patricia Murrieta-Flores, and Bruno Martins, “Ensemble Named Entity Recognition (NER): Evaluating NER Tools in the Identification of Place Names in Historical Corpora,” Frontiers in Digital Humanities 5 (2018); and Alexander Erdmann et al., “Practical, Efficient, and Customizable Active Learning for Named Entity Recognition in the Digital Humanities,” Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, vol. 1 (Minneapolis, MN: Association for Computational Linguistics, 2019): 2223–34.

24 Archana Goyal, Vishal Gupta, and Manish Kumar, “Recent Named Entity Recognition and Classification Techniques: A Systematic Review,” Computer Science Review 29 (2018): 21–43, at 21.

25 Gómez-Peña , Guillermo , “ Disclaimer ,” TDR 50 . 1 ( 2006 ): 149–58 CrossRef Google Scholar , at 154 (emphasis added).

26 See, for example, Elaine Aston, Restaging Feminisms (Cham: Palgrave Pivot/Springer Nature, 2020).

27 An important referent for this type of research in the computational realm is the analysis by Verhoeven et al., “Controlling for Openness,” 6.

28 So, Redlining Culture, 6.

29 Miller, “Average Broadway,” 548–51.

30 Rosella Ferrari, Pop Goes the Avant-Garde: Experimental Theatre in Contemporary China (London: Seagull, 2012).

31 Verhoeven et al., “Controlling for Openness,” 16–20.

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  • Volume 64, Issue 1
  • Miguel Escobar Varela (a1)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0040557422000552

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Grotowski, Jerzy

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Jerzy Grotowski

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Grotowski, Jerzy

Jerzy Grotowski (born August 11, 1933, Rzeszów , Poland—died January 14, 1999, Pontedera, Italy) was an international leader of the experimental theatre who became famous in the 1960s as the director of productions staged by the Polish Laboratory Theatre of Wrocław . A leading exponent of audience involvement, he set up emotional confrontations between a limited group of spectators and the actors; the performers were disciplined masters of bodily and vocal contortions.

Grotowski began studying at the National Theatrical Academy in Kraków in 1951 and received a degree there in 1955; he then attended for a time the State Institute of Theatre Arts in Moscow. He joined the Laboratory Theatre in 1959, the year it was founded. Grotowski’s permanent company first appeared in western Europe in 1966. He became a guest lecturer and influential director in the avant-garde theatre of England, France, and the Scandinavian countries. His productions included Faustus (1963), Hamlet (1964), and The Constant Prince (1965). Grotowski’s methods and pronouncements—which can be found in his highly influential work Towards a Poor Theatre (1968)—influenced such U.S. experimental theatre movements as The Living Theatre , the Open Theatre, and the Performance Group. In 1969 the Laboratory Theatre made a successful U.S. debut in New York City with Akropolis, based on a 1904 play by Stanisław Wyspiański . Later productions of the Laboratory Theatre included Undertaking Mountain (1977) and Undertaking Earth (1977–78). In 1982 Grotowski immigrated to the United States , where he taught for several years before moving to Pontedera, Italy . There in 1985, a year after the closing of the Laboratory Theatre in Poland , he opened a new theatrical centre.

Teatro Farnese

when did experimental theatre begin

La MaMa’s Archive of Experimental Theater

By Ariel Kates

For more than half a century, La MaMa E.T.C. has brought amazing off-off-Broadway theater to the East Village. 74 East Fourth Street, designated a New York City landmark on November 17, 2009, was built in 1873 for the Aschenbrödel Verein (“Cinderella Society”), a musicians’ club formed in Kleindeutschland in 1860. In 1969, it became Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. And “Experimental” is not just its name, it’s the theater’s philosophy, from the very beginning when it was founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart. The theater specializes in the wilder kinds of theater, from plays in multiple languages to horror stories that take place entirely on a single love seat, La MaMa’s archive holds at least one piece of paper from every performance ever held at La MaMa — sometimes up to 90 per year. Dive in with us! 

when did experimental theatre begin

First, La Mama’s Story

The 2014 Village Award Winner was first housed at 321 East Ninth Street, which Ellen Stewart leased. Her clothing boutique was on the first floor, and the theater in the basement. As was explained by La MaMa Archivist Sophie Glidden-Lyon, a theater license was very difficult to obtain, but a cafe licesnce was not, and so in the early days, performances were presented as floor shows for the cafe, and snacks were served. Fittingly, the theater’s first name was Café La MaMa.

when did experimental theatre begin

When La MaMa moved to its second home, it officially became La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Theatre Club). Stewart began to charge admission for plays and ran the theater as a private club. The theater became a nonprofit in 1967. It officially moved to its current home on East Fourth Street in 1969.

Claims to Fame

La Mama has staged more than three thousand productions in New York, and won more than sixty Obie Awards. Ellen Stewart received a MacArthur Fellowship Award in 1985. La MaMa built connections all over the world, touring productions in Europe and bringing international productions to the East Village.  

when did experimental theatre begin

La MaMa has been home to such playwrights as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, and Terrence McNally; directors including Tom O’Horgan, Joseph Chaikin, Robert Wilson, and Richard Foreman; and such actors as Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Bill Irwin, and Danny DeVito. The Native American Theater Ensemble (NATE), founded 1971 by Hanay Geiogamah (Kiowa and Delaware nations), made its debut performance at La Mama Theater of its first piece, Body Indian, in 1972. 

when did experimental theatre begin

La MaMa, which is still going strong and anchors the Fourth Arts Block, best epitomizes the Off-Off-Broadway theaters that from the 1960s to today have been a defining part of the theatrical culture of New York City.

La MaMa is home to eighteen repertory companies and generally produces a new play every three weeks. La MaMa boasts three theaters on East Fourth Street as well as a rehearsal space on Great Jones Street. Most recently, an art gallery was added on East 1st Street. 

La Mama’s Archive

when did experimental theatre begin

Established in the early 1970s, La MaMa Archives collects, preserves, and exhibits records of permanent historical value relating to La MaMa and the Off-Off-Broadway movement. In doing so, it draws on a deep vein of in-house institutional memory, the passionate community of artists whose work has found a home on La MaMa stages, and a diversity of scholars, educators, and international artists with whom they regularly collaborate.

when did experimental theatre begin

All of the productions, the sets, wild and marvelous masks, puppets, playbills, furniture, posters, and more can be found in La MaMa’s archive, which is on the mezzanine of the theater building (and is 100% accessible). Each room is full of ephemera, and archivist Sophie Glidden-Lyon gave Village Preservation a virtual tour of the space, which also includes such special stories as how, exactly, La MaMa came to be called La MaMa — you can watch here, and decide whether or not the story sounds true or apocryphal: 

La MaMa’s collections offer an intimate perspective on major social, aesthetic, and political movements of the 20th and 21st centuries that resonate with histories of peoples across the globe. Where else would you find original plays by Vietnam War veterans alongside video of performances about the AIDS crisis; unpublished scripts by Japanese filmmaker Shuji Terayama alongside photos and correspondence by Polish revolutionary director Tadeusz Kantor? A portion of these materials are available for viewing on our new Digital Collections website, catalog.lamama.org .

While Ellen Stewart passed away in 2011, her legacy lives on at La Mama, and much of that is housed in the Archive. From photos to documents, Ellen’s visage watches over the archive, and the community that she envisioned and built as a beacon of culture , along with her countless collaborators. 

More Resources, and Accessing the Archive

La MaMa’s Archive is open to visitors by appointment. For more information please contact Archives Director, Ozzie Rodriguez at 212-260-2471 or email [email protected]

To explore La MaMa’s building, and the other amazing theaters of the East Village, check out our Theater Tour on our East Village Building Blocks website — here .

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    In Western theatre, in the late 19th century, appears a number of various theatrical styles and movements, known as Experimental theatre. Here we can mention the Alfred Jarry and his Ubu plays as a rejection of the dominant ways of writing and producing plays. At that time, the acceptable conventions were pretty narrow and leaned towards ...

  15. Power to the People: Experimental Theatre in the 1960s

    Power to the People: Experimental Theatre in the 1960s. A number of sub-cultures, all characterised by some form of reaction against the customs and mores which had predominated since the end of the Second World War (and indeed a good deal longer) began to take distinctive shape around the years 1958-59 in all of the Western nations.

  16. Experimental Theater Summary

    Complete summary of Experimental Theater. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of Experimental Theater. ... Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 ...

  17. On the Experimental Theatre

    The increase of the political powers of learning collided with the approaching political reaction. Today, how- ever, we want to confine ourselves to pursuing the development of the turning point of the theatre in the province of aesthetics. The experiments of Piscator caused, above all, complete chaos in the. theatre.

  18. The People and Places of Experimental Theatre Scholarship: A

    In a second stage, I classified each of these toponyms as being either located in Europe and North America, or outside these regions. I did not include theatre venues, even though some (e.g., LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Club) have been central to the history of experimental work, and terms such as Broadway, which refer to specific geographies.

  19. Experimental Theatre and the Challenge Facing Modern Playwrights

    Indeed, there are many styles of theatre that are still considered to be experimental, but have actually been around longer than any of us have. When discussing this topic, many theatre scholars still seem to think back to certain historical "avant-garde" styles of theatre - such as expressionism, Dada, absurdism and surrealism - which ...

  20. Theatre of Cruelty

    Table of Contents Theatre of Cruelty, project for an experimental theatre that was proposed by the French poet, actor, and theorist Antonin Artaud and that became a major influence on avant-garde 20th-century theatre.. Artaud, influenced by Symbolism and Surrealism, along with Roger Vitrac and Robert Aron founded the Théâtre Alfred Jarry in 1926; they presented four programs, including ...

  21. Jerzy Grotowski

    Jerzy Grotowski was an international leader of the experimental theatre who became famous in the 1960s as the director of productions staged by the Polish Laboratory Theatre of Wrocław. A leading exponent of audience involvement, he set up emotional confrontations between a limited group of ... Grotowski began studying at the National ...

  22. La MaMa's Archive of Experimental Theater

    When La MaMa moved to its second home, it officially became La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Theatre Club). Stewart began to charge admission for plays and ran the theater as a private club. The theater became a nonprofit in 1967. It officially moved to its current home on East Fourth Street in 1969. Claims to Fame

  23. Experimental theatre in the Arab world

    Experimental theatre in the Arab world emerged in the post-colonial era as a fusion of Western theatrical traditions with local performance cultures ... and actors in 1977, establishing a formal theater headquartered in East Jerusalem in 1984. From the start the theatre was deeply involved in staging productions in its own center, located in ...