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FROM NEW STAGECRAFT TO NEW CINEMA: Silent Film Performs the Avant-Garde

From New Stagecraft to New Cinema: Silent Film Performs the Avant-Garde is an intermedial project by dr. Vito Adriaensens geared towards redefining the evolution of cinema against developments in the historical avant-garde in performing arts (1/9/2015 - 30/9/2019).


It examines why there is an apparent historiographical gap between the onset of the historical avant-garde in performing arts - described as "new" or "modern" from the 1880s onwards (Knopf 2001) - and that in cinema, where newer forms categorized as such do not appear in history books until 1919 with German Expressionism, French Impressionism and the Soviet Montage Movement (Hagener 2007). These three are characteristically defined as reflecting the devastating effects of the Great War (Kaes 2009), propelling cinema into modernity. This idea is not only essentially ahistorical, however, it also chooses to ignore the relationships that already existed between new cinematic forms and new performing arts, but have yet to be defined. This archive-driven research project will address and close the historiographical gap by demonstrating these connections in 6 well-defined case studies. It starts from the concept of new theatre forms as a "New Stagecraft," coined by theatre historian Kenneth Macgowan (1921) and built around the significant and popular work of Edward Gordon Craig, Max Reinhardt and Adolphe Appia. The influence of the New Stagecraft on silent cinema (1910-1927) will be defined scenographically and discursively through archival research in New York via Columbia University.


dr. Vito Adriaensens has received generous support from the Belgian American Educational Foundation for this project and is currently supported by an Outgoing [PEGASUS]2 Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, awarded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. He has also received a Chargé de Recherche Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Scientific Research Fund (F.R.S.-FNRS) for his project, allowing him to undertake future research with our colleagues at the Université libre de Bruxelles’ MuCiA (Musique, Cinéma et Arts de la Scène) Research Unit.

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