It has been a long wait for the beautiful new edition of Anthropocosmic Theatre. First published in 1996, this 2nd edition is updated, with new chapters and translated content.
Available in a beautiful printed copy, or as an open access download, we are excited to announce the launch of this stunning creative and collaborative work.
We caught up with Deborah Middleton, one of the editors and contributors for the book, to find out what makes this new edition so significant.
How to sum up more than forty-five years of daring adventure in the fields of theatre research and creativity? That was the challenge that faced me as I set about editing a new expanded edition of Anthropocosmic Theatre by the Mexican director, Nicolás Núñez. The original version of the book, which I had edited way back in 1996 (my first ever foray into academic publishing) reported on Núñez’s development of an approach to theatre that emphasises its ritual and sacred orgins. Núñez and his collaborators had undertaken an extraordinary journey encompassing contact with a wide range of theatre and ritual sources: Tibetan Buddhists in exile in India; Peruvian and Huichol shamans; NASA scientists in Arizona; Strasberg, the father of Method acting, in New York, and Grotowski, the ‘holy theatre’ visionary, in the forests of Poland and the mountains of Mexico. Now, 20-plus years on, my colleague, Franc Chamberlain, had come up with the idea that we should create a new edition of the book with a second section covering the period from 1996 to 2018. And those years were just as full and intrepid as the early ones had been.
The challenge of the project was in deciding how best to represent the body of work that had flowered from those beginnings – which projects to favour, which inquiries to explore, which adventures to relate. Inevitably, the book can only be a partial glimpse into a lifelong dedication that has generated a very unique view, and a highly developed practice that has touched multiple lives. In the end, I chose to focus primarily on ‘the dynamics’ – Núñez’s intensive performer training processes which represent an important contribution to understandings of meditation and energy in actor-training. Shorter case-studies and commentaries give the reader a sense of just a few of the participatory theatre productions. New, and newly translated, writings by Núñez are combined with chapters by other writers, and – in keeping with the original book – a series of short personal reflections by participants. Once again, we glimpse the extraordinary projects through which Núñez has researched and shared his vision: an overnight performance on each full moon of the year 2000 at the pyramids of Teotihuacan; a 40-day pilgrimage on the pre-Christian route that is now the Camino de Santiago de Compostela; a creative residency in an indigenous jungle village on the edges of the Darién rainforest in Panama.
This is in part an academic book, but it is also very much a manifesto and a series of testimonials: a manifesto for a theatre of depth, integrity, and sacrality; testimonials to powerful, even life-changing, experiences in the training studio, and in the forests and other spaces where Núnez’s theatre productions take place. It is a book which is designed to spark the imagination, to evoke an aspirational sense of the power of theatre, and to remind us all of the great cosmic context within which our lives and our art-forms unfold.
We are looking forward to an exciting launch event for the book, to be held at the University of Huddersfield on 30th October.