‘Best Betrayal’: The Documentation of Performance on Video and Film, Part 2

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Whether described as adaptations, documentations, translations, or transcriptions, the video cassettes which allow us to see performances on video are proliferating. Not always easily available for begging, borrowing, or buying, not always willingly turned over by the theatre companies who hold them for in-house use, often lost or erased by television channels, and always beleaguered with copyright problems, these electronic arts ‘documents’ are none the less causing a revolution in teaching, rehearsal methods, and research. In what constitutes a first detailed mapping of the territory, Annabelle Melzer's two-part article, of which the first part appeared in NTQ42 (May 1995), deals with the theoretical and aesthetic questions surrounding performance documentation, with some of the hands-on issues of such filming - and with her own journey to seek out the documents themselves. Annabelle Melzer, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Tel Aviv, is completing ten years of research on the adaptation and documentation of theatre through moving image documents. Shakespeare on Screen, the first volume of her multi-volume filmography, Theatre on Screen, appeared in 1991, receiving the Choice and American Library Association awards as outstanding reference book of that year. Her articles on avant-garde performance have appeared in Artforum, Theatre Research International, and Comparative Drama, and her Hazan Prize-winning book Dada and Surrealist Performance has recently been reissued by Johns Hopkins University Press. She is at present writing a book on the theatricality of war.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-276
Number of pages18
JournalNew Theatre Quarterly
Issue number43
StatePublished - Aug 1995


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