Illusionism, Monsters & Meta-Horror - Theatre as a Medium for the Horror Genre
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Horror in film is abundant, yet in theatre it is scarce. Within the field of Dutch contemporary theatre there are only two productions that label themselves as horror: Mart van Berckel’s Continenten and Jakop Ahlbom Company’s Horror. These incredibly different performances form both the inspiration for and the backbone of Merit Vessies’ research into the way horror works and can work in the medium of theatre. In “Illusionism, Monsters and Meta-Horror: Theatre as a Medium for the Horror Genre,” Vessies first delves into the discourse surrounding horror in film, exploring different definitions of the genre and its many subgenres, and touching upon the different rules, characters and tropes belonging to different subgenres, and the different psychological explanations for why one can enjoy a horror film. Although there are many ways in which to approach the horror genre on an academic level, examining the way it works in theatre seems to be a first. With the knowledge gathered from the field of film studies, Vessies goes into theory on intermediality and intertextuality that can be used as tools to analyse the way the theory on horror film works in theatre performances, specifically in the work of Van Berckel and Ahlbom. The research focuses in on the different ways in which the horror genre is referenced, either through 1) literal references of existing works of horror fiction, 2) thematic references to certain tropes, characters and/or subgenres, 3) techniques used that could be seen as emulating techniques used in film. Through analysing Continenten and Horror by looking at the way the performances reference the horror genre, this text shows the broadness of horror as well as its versatility and the amount of possibilities that exist for horror, both in film, in theatre, and in academics.