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Art of ConfessionThe Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV$
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Christopher Grobe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479829170

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479829170.001.0001

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Just Talk

Just Talk

Writing, Media, and Confessional Monologue in the 1980s

(p.141) 3 Just Talk
Art of Confession

Christopher Grobe

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the solo career of Spalding Gray, who helped popularize confessional monologue in the American theater. Received at first as someone who “talks for a living,” Spalding Gray was rebranded after his death as, in fact, a writer. This simple binary—talk vs. writing—does a disservice to Gray’s monologues, or, as he sometimes called them, his “talking novels.” Placing Gray in his context—as a member of the multimedia experimental theater ensemble the Wooster Group, as an artist poised between theater and performance art, and as a man frankly puzzled by the relationship between theatrical performance and literary authorship—this chapter argues that the tension between writing and talking (and not a choice between the two) defines confessional monologue as a form. Special attention is paid to the way Gray’s monologues have been published, as well as to Gray’s debt to the confessional poet Robert Lowell.

Keywords:   monologue theater, dramatic publishing, literary authorship, experimental theater, performance art, Spalding Gray, the Wooster Group, Robert Lowell

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