The author is dead! Long live the author!

Given that we are apparently all engaged in an Agatha Christie style joint killing of the author in theatre, in favour of digitally-inspired collective craziness, this post (and the resulting discussion in the comments) on the role of the author in video games seemed interesting.

To me, at least.

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Comment by Gareth Gordon on November 12, 2009 at 20:11
That made me smile - seeing Fukuyama characterised as po-mo for his "End of History" line! Personally I think Fukuyama was coming at it from entirely the opposite end of the spectrum - he was triumphantly singing the praises of liberal capitalism as having brought an end to one of the "grand narratives" - history. Thank god he was wrong!! Indeed Derrida spent most of one of his books taking Fukuyama to task on this very point (and also providing an intriguing reading of Hamlet, in Spectres of Marx).

But quite what this has to do with NTW I'm not sure! :-) I am still tickled at the idea of there not being a single author (as distinguished from the author-function) for some of the work.
Comment by Tom Beardshaw on November 11, 2009 at 21:35
Hrm... I'm wondering whether the Telegraph piece takes it too far Gary. Sure, Alan and John are workshopping in the Valleys and will create something from people's stories, but Alan is still authoring in a sense - just with collaboratively created source material. And while you may be charged with living and listening in Bridgend, it's still you who gets to write the play, non? But in many of the productions, there is more of a facilitator role for the 'author', for sure.

But how about John Osbourne, Marc Rees, Aeschylus, Gwyn Thomas and Owen Sheers? Death of the author was always a bit of an overdramatic statement (reminds me of that other great po-mo prophecy by Fukuyama - It's the "End of history". Yeah, right).

I think perhaps John and Lucy have put together such an eclectic programme that any attempt to paint NTW's work with a reductionist brush will be a little premature.
Comment by Gareth Gordon on November 11, 2009 at 20:51
Interesting Gary, that the first article you linked to includes in its subtitle "the death of the individual as the key driving-force in our theatre", but I read your post as taking this to mean the author. I'm not sure the two are the same (in the article, anyway). It seems to me that the article is engaging with the NTW programme being about collectives or communities, as opposed to a tradition of 'plays' which focus on individual experience. It seems like an aesthetic challenge, to represent the experience of collectives, and one to which we don't often seem to rise. American cinema is my personal bete noir in this respect - WW2 gets condensed into the figure of Private Ryan, etc etc etc ad nauseam!

The article seems equally interested in the absence of a single, individual author, but even if a text is co-written by any number of contributing individuals, it is still authored.

On a different point, I'm not sure I agree with your opposition of author-vs-"collective craziness". That's not the opposition that I see at work in the relationship with an author. Or rather, with a text. The death of the author is more (in my view) about liberating the interpretation of the reader/theatre-goer/game-player, which (necessarily?) has to be a singular experience. I am intrigued by the idea that we could have a "collective" response to a text, but does such a response exist? Reading groups come to mind, but presumably they are spaces to discuss varying individual responses. Theatre auditoria could arguably be collective spaces, but the "posh" seats, darkened lights, and reverential hush don't lend themselves to a 'democratic' hammering out of what a collective response might be, and again I reckon it'd end up being a mosaic of individual responses.
Comment by Femke van Gent on November 9, 2009 at 2:40
I mean: any ideas if there is a suiting title for the new/next generation?
Comment by Femke van Gent on November 9, 2009 at 2:39
Strong title, and really part of The New Generation (TNG) Anybody got an idea what it's called? Can you hear the quiet revolution coming?

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