Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Richard Foreman and the Ontological-Hysteric Theater

Publication Date



Music and Performing Arts, College of


Theatre and Dance, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Al-Shamma

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Richard Foreman’s work in the theatre has been called many things in the past: unconventional, eccentric, and even crazy. However, he was one of the most influential avant-garde artists of his generation. Within the avant-garde community of his time, he felt as though the type of theatre that encapsulated his ideas was nowhere to be found. Therefore, he spent much of his life rejecting the ideas of those around him and working to carve out a theatrical space in which to create an artistic expression that captured his experimental style. Foreman’s career was largely shaped by his work at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater, which he founded in 1968. Here he was able to direct numerous self-written works that displayed whatever his current approach to theatre was, which he admits was ever-changing. His work allowed him to experiment with various playwriting, directing, and design styles, all while circling persistent themes. Foreman has won multiple Obie Awards and grants, and has written three manifestos detailing his theories on art and the essence of being.

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