Plays with Films

Richard Foreman
Edited by Rainer J. Hanshe
Intro by George Hunka

Richard Foreman’s first book in seven years!

Plays with Films brings together texts of the final three productions of Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery: Zomboid! (2006), Wake Up Mr. Sleepy! Your Unconscious Mind is Dead! (2007), and Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland (2008). In these three exhilarating and challenging works, Foreman turns to a meditation on the mechanical and digital reproductions of screen images within the discipline of theater, and thereby recalibrates and expands the potential relationship we can have with the live art that is theater.

Plays With Films

Extending the model of theater as a “reverberating machine,” Foreman’s use of film in these plays is intimately integrated into the complex network of impulse generators, creating an unprecedented experience of multi-dimensional scriptural space, a new kind of total theater that effectively recharges and redirects the issues of consciousness he has been exploring with indefatigable intensity since the establishment of his theater in 1968. The bodied reality of theatrical experience, and the recognition of unconsciousness within that experience, becomes more fraught with peril in today’s screened world. These plays, originally conceived as his final theater works (though he did change his mind), engage in ways that continue his ambition to upend habitual thinking and may prove transformative for the individual’s ability to interpret and understand the threats of deadening conformity and loss of identity through the new digital culture.

Employing an innovative typographical presentation, Plays with Films demonstrates how America’s most daring theater artist alchemizes reproducible and non-reproducible reality into a unique contemplation of the project of self-construction in the 21st century.


“Richard Foreman has reinvented dialogue, action, sound, stage design, and philosophical groundwork as no other stage artist in our history.” — From the citation for the PEN/LAURA PELS MASTER AMERICAN DRAMATIST AWARD

“Richard Foreman’s mastery of the mysteries, rites, and actions of theatrical space is witty, terrifying, and beautiful.”— JoAnne Akalaitis

“Richard Foreman’s theater, for me, represents an extraordinary, mental, spiritual, and aesthetic adventure. It’s a theater that questions, probes, and challenges the frontier of art and being.” — Jonas Mekas

“Each year, Mr. Foreman, a titan of the American avant-garde, invents remarkably specific interior landscapes that come as close to capturing the geography of dreams as theater can.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Richard Foreman’s work gives a resonance and a disturbance not felt from any other company. [He is] a pioneer in end-of-millennium controlled chaos.” — David Bowie


Richard Foreman, Plays with Films (New York: Contra Mundum Press, 2013). ISBN 9780983697282. $25.95 USD, 18 GBP, 20 E. Bookstores can order through Ingram. Otherwise, copies can be acquired through local retailers or via Amazon and similar sites worldwide. For a review, desk copy, or interview request, write to:

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Ontological-Hysteric Theater


Wake Up Mr. Sleepy!…
Strong Medicine
Out of the Body Travel


Don’t Disappear Into a Dream (2009)
Foreman Planet (2009)
To Be Subjected To De-Subjectification (2008)
Snap Crackle Pop: Dancing in Richard Foreman’s Brain (2007)
More Hysteria Please (1995)
Richard Foreman by Eric Bogosian (1994)
A Conversation with Richard Foreman (1987)


Justin Maxwell, Rain Taxi, No. 71 (fall 2013)


PENNSOUND Richard Foreman Collection

University of Buffalo Author Page

Sophia: The Cliffs/35+ Year Retrospective Compilation (2009)
Richard Foreman Research Archive (Loughborough University)
Richard Foreman Papers (1942-2004) (Fales Library Collection)