You are on page 1of 16

Theatricality: The Specificity of Theatrical Language Author(s): Josette Féral and Ronald P. Bermingham Source: SubStance, Vol. 31, No.

2/3, Issue 98/99: Special Issue: Theatricality (2002), pp. 94-108 Published by: University of Wisconsin Press Stable URL: Accessed: 29/01/2009 21:44
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

University of Wisconsin Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to SubStance.

performance art.3 From that time on. its specificity was no longer evident. performance art. and so on. the very foundations of theater were turned upside-down. but to define what distinguishes it from other kinds of spectacle-dance. is not only to attempt to define what distinguishes theater from other genres. What had been a clearly defined theatricalaesthetic at the end of the 19thcentury. 31. or the specificity of the theater. This article is such a step. was. How then are we to define theatricality today? Should we speak of it in the singular or in the plural? Is theatricalitya property that belongs uniquely to the theater. During the 20th century. or multi-media art. stage practice began to distance itself from the text. during the 20th century.and new technologies. the theater. 2002 SubStance# 98/99. It is to attempt to find parameters shared by all theatrical enterprises from time immemorial. outlining normative practice. systematically At the same time. performance. To the extent that the spectacular and the theatrical acquired new forms. nos. as were those of other arts. Although such a project may appear overly ambitious.theories of stage-play. Thus. It is to bring the nature of theater itself into focus against a background of individual theatricalpractices. The emergence of theatricalityin areas tangentially related to the theater seems to have as a corollary the dissolution of the limits between genres. 2 & 3. University of Wisconsin Press. it is understandable that those concerned began to question the specificity of the theatrical act itself. and aesthetics. 2002 . or can it also be found in the quotidian? As a quality94 ? Board of Regents. its pertinence requires an attempt to establish such a definition. seeking to establish points of reference for subsequent reflection. and of the formal distinctions between practices. suddenly decentered. especially since this very specificity appeared to influence other stage practices as well. the text was no longer able to guarantee the theatricality of the stage.Theatricality: The Specificity of TheatricalLanguage1 Josette Feral To define theatricality. Vol. The specificity of theater is more and more difficult to define.2Once under siege. was obliged to redefine itself. including happenings. opera. from dance-theater to multi-media arts. assigning it a new place in the theatrical enterprise.

Theatricality Theatricality 95 understood here in the Kantiansense of the term-does theatricalitypre-exist its manifestation in the theatrical object.displacement.But "theorizing"understood according to contemporary usage as a reflection upon the specificity of genres and upon abstractconcepts distance. we can retrace the notion of theatricality back to the first texts of Evreinoff (1922)who spoke of "teatralnost. are efforts to theorize in matters related to the theater.4 This means that attempts to conceptualize the notion of theatricality are linked to recent preoccupations with the theory of theater. The play has not yet begun. In fact. maintaining that such works as Aristotle's Poetics.). with the object then becoming the condition of its emergence? Or is theatricality the consequence of a certain theatrical process related either to reality or to the subject? These are the questions I would like to consider here. theatricality is both poorly defined and etymologically unclear. the texts that I have been able to assemble dealing with theatricality date back only 10 years. one recognizes that the set alone can convey a certain theatricality.Diderot's Paradoxe du comedien. One might well object. The set. The Historical Context The notion of theatricality seems to have appeared at the same time as the notion of literarity. 2002 . and the prefaces of Racine and Victor Hugo. 2 & 3.5 Lexically speaking."6 It is a concept that one associates in a privileged way with the theater. Vol. semiotization. seems to await the beginning of the play. ostension. is a much (sign. However. Recent dissemination of the notion of theatricality can lead us to forget its more distant history. Let us look at a few possible scenarios: 1stscenario: You enter a theater." stressing the significance of the suffix "ost"in order to underline the importance of his discovery. nos. etc. Is theatricality at work here? If one answers in the affirmative. In front of you is a stage. among others. in plain view. Although the theatrical process has not yet SubStance# 98/99. It seems to be much like the "tacit concept" defined by Michael Polany: "a concrete idea that one can use directly but that one can only describe indirectly. the curtain is open. 31. its dissemination in critical literature was less rapid. the actors are absent. one can demonstrate that theatricality is not strictly a theatrical phenomenon. more recent phenomenon. in fact. Theatricality as a Property of the Quotidian By examining conditions that accompany various manifestations of theatricality both on and off stage.fragment. the attempt to define a theory of theater is itself the sign of an era fascinated by theory. As Roland Barthes has pointed out.

the exchange did not appear to be a fictional situation. The smoker exits the train. he perceives the spectacular nature of the stage. for the argument did not appear staged. taking sides in the argument. would one now claim that theatricality had been present? After the fact. theatricalityseems to stem from the spectator's awareness of a theatrical intention addressed to him. Furthermore. The spectator knows what to expect from the place in which he finds himself. and the presence of illusion where only commonplace realityhad been expected.9 The spectatorthereby transformsinto fictionwhat he thought was a quotidian event. points out the disproportion between the small NO SMOKINGsign in the train and the huge billboard promoting smoking that occupies the entire wall of the station platform. Spectators of this exchange. the spectator perceives the theatricality of the stage. certain signs are already in place. the spectator was able to displace signs and to interpret them differently. it forced him to see theater where before he saw only a chance occurrence. tension mounts. Vol. it would seem so. Re-semiotizing the space of the subway car. 31.7 Because a semiotization of space has already occurred. Is theatricality present in this instance? One would probably say not. and for the benefit of all the interested observers. We might conclude that in this instance. insults and threats are exchanged. certain constraints are already imposed. the other passengers watch attentively. spectators exiting at the same station would have discovered that the two antagonists were in fact an actor and actress taking part in what Boal defined as an "invisible theatrical production. theatricalityappears SubStance# 98/99. One is smoking and the other strongly protesting. he know what to expect from the scenic design-a play.96 Josette Feral been set in motion. you witness an argument between two passengers." Knowing this. space is the vehicle of theatricality. 2 & 3. nor had the non-participants been formally invited to watch. In this instance. Space seems fundamental to theatricality. This awareness altered the way in which he looked at what was taking place. for the parties seemed genuinely involved in the quarrel. and of the space surrounding him. several comment. nos. However. for the passage from the literary to the theatrical is first and foremost completed through a spatial realization of the text. reminding the first that smoking on the subway is against the rules. The train pulls into a station and stops in front of an imposing billboard advertising cigarettes.8 In this instance. and bearing in mind that the spectators' participation was involuntary. We can therefore draw a first conclusion: the presence of the actor is not a prerequisite of theatricality. revealing both the fictional nature of the performers' behavior. The first refuses to comply. 2002 . 2nd scenario: In the subway. The subject perceives certain relations within that space.

By instituting a Husserlian qualitative modification in the relationship between subjects.this active gaze constitutes SubStance# 98/99. object. the spectator's gaze created a spatial cleft from which illusion emergedillusion whose vehicle the spectator had selected from among events. make-believe. they project neither pretense nor fiction. However. virtual space belonging to the other. 31. The spectator must be aware of the performers' secret. designer. This space is the space of the "other". physical bodies. Such actions create a cleft that divides space into the "outside" and the "inside" of theatricality. theatricalityas alterity emerges through a cleft in quotidian space. and architect. or fiction. you inscribe this theatricality in the real space surrounding them. director. your eyes perceive a certain theatricality in their figures and gestures. Considering the constraints that it imposes upon the spectator.theatricalityseems to be a process that has to do with a "gaze" that postulates and creates a distinct. second through a spectator's gaze framing a quotidian space that he does not occupy. Theatricality has occurred under two conditions: first through a performer's reallocation of the quotidian space that he occupies. space. from which fiction can emerge. Nonetheless. this last example is perhaps the most marginal. nor do they behave as if showing-off. 2002 . we would have been unable to identify its presence in everyday occurrences. Thus. this space was created by the conscious act of the performer. Were such conditions prerequisites of theatricality. It is the simple exercise of watching that reassigns gestures to theatrical space. understood here in the largest sense of the word to include the actor. behaviors. lighting director. In our first examples. nor any intention of acting. illusion. without such awareness there is misunderstanding and absence of theatricality. Only by chance might they be aware of the watchful eyes following them. in the way they occupy the space around them. objects and space without regard for the fictional or real nature of the vehicle's origin. nos. it can also be the result of a spectator's gaze constituting space as theatrical.l0 More than a property with analyzable characteristics. or event-nor is it necessarily the result of pretense. As a spectator. is the space that defines both alterity and theatricality. we can draw an important conclusion from it: theatricality has little to do with the nature of the invested object-the actor. 3rd scenario: You are seated at a sidewalk cafe watching passers-by who have no desire to be seen.In our last example. As they pass.Theatricality 97 as a result of the performers' affirmed theatrical intention. 2 & 3. The cleft can be the result of an actor's seizing control of the quotidian and turning it into theatrical space.

we might call it a process that recognizes subjects in process. situations. It does not have any qualitative properties that would permit our identifying it beyond any shadow of doubt. Therefore.98 Josette Feral the condition for the emergence of theatricality. allowing both the performing subject as well as the spectator to pass from "here" to "elsewhere. Theatricality is authorized by the placing of the subject with respect to both quotidian and imaginary dimensions. nos. Without such a cleft. we may conclude that theatricality consists as much in situating the object or the other in a "framed theatrical space" (scenario 3). the "other" becomes actor through an avowed act of representation. the transitional space discussed by Winnicott. In both cases.12 Seen in this way. of a theatricality of acts. the threshold (limen) discussed by Turner.In the case where the initiative belongs to the actor. the latter being founded upon the presence of the other's space. theatricality appears as a transcendental structure whose general characteristicsare assumed by the theater. and objects. we are confronted with the possibility of attributing a transcendent nature to theatricality. events. It is an act initiated in one of two possible spaces: either that of the actor or that of the spectator. It is a performative act creating the virtual space of the other. this act creates a cleft in the quotidian that becomes the space of the other. in fact. it is a process of looking at or being looked at. as it does in transforming a simple event into signs in such a way that it becomes a spectacle (scenario 2). 2 & 3." It clears a passage. Thus stage-related SubStance# 98/99. Initially. theatricality appears to be an almost fantastical cognitive operation set in motion either by the observer or the observed. and of thus defining stage-related theatricality as only one expression of a transcendent phenomenon. 31." Theatricality does not manifest itself in any obligatory fashion. 2002 . What Permits the Theatrical? The Theater as Pre-Aesthetic If one is ready to admit the existence. precluding the possibility of theatricality. the space in which the other has a place. in the case where the initiative belongs to the spectator. the "other" is unwittingly transformed into actor through a gaze that inscribes theatricality in the space surrounding him. much less of theater itself. It is not an empirical given.1In Kantianterminology. then one must be willing to consider the philosophical nature of theatricality. Vol. or Goffman's "framing. At this stage of our analysis. outside the theatrical stage. theatricality appears to be more than a property. the quotidian remains intact. To see theatricality in these terms poses the question of its own transcendent nature.

..... text. dialogue.. costumes. Thus these two poles (self. 31.. outside the theater. What then are the signs of theatricality that are specifically characteristic of the stage?14 What characteristics of theatricality can the theater alone produce? According to Evreinov... we can create such a space. and that we have imposed upon him. Evreinov presents theatricality as a property that springs from the actorand rendershis surroundings theatrical.. that he has chosen.. lighting... stage-related theatricality rests essentially on the theatricality of an actor who...... attempts to transform the reality that surrounds him. and its point of arrival (reality)... the theatricality of the stage could not exist were the nature of theatricality not transcendent.. into three elements whose relationship defines the restrictive. However. nos. fictional space. props. etc.Theatricality 99 theatricality is possible only because of its transcendent nature.... 2 & 3... Vol.. Actor... theatricality takes on specifically theatricalcharacteristicsthat are collectively valued and socially meaningful.. In movement between these poles is varied and nonfact. In other words. makeup.. theater is possible only because theatricality exists and because the theater calls it into play.l3 Stage-related Theatricality Although the sine qua non condition for the emergence of theatricality as defined above is the creation of a distinct. sociological and aesthetical variations-encompass the totality of theatrical practices. Once evoked. all other signifying systems (scenic space. bringing play and of whose process theatricality possible interactions-taking into account historical.. The modalities of the relationship between these whose rules are both transitory and two points are governed by performance.. Seen in this way..) can disappear without scenic theatricality being significantly affected.. 2002 .'5The actor's presence alone SubStance# 98/99. permanent.(Story) .. reality) are the fundamental points of focus for all reflections on theatricality: its point of emergence (the acting self)...... as we have seen.. moved by a theatrical instinct. plunging into the cleft in space that theatricality has opened. the playwright merely takes his place within this transcendent structure..(Story) Fiction Action ) Acting The Actor When the actor is viewed as the source of stage-related theatricality (a view defended by Peter Brook).

as matter. and inscribes it with signs within symbolic structures on stage that are informed by his subjective impulses and desires. monologues. his performance. The spectator is never completely duped. the spectator must deal with the "not-notnot" of the actor. questioning the presence of the other. of alterity. Although it knows its limits. As staged simulacra and illusions. His performance transforms into signs the displacement by which he distinguishes himself from the "other. it is shocked when it surpasses them. a simulacrum that invites the spectator to cross over into the realm of the imaginary. It is a body in motion on stage. the spectator's double-edged gaze penetrates the actor's mask. his art of dissimulation and representation. SubStance # 98/99. these structures evince possible world-views whose veridical and illusory aspects are grasped simultaneously by the spectator. Moreover. All are forms of narrative fiction ( the other. nos. at other times.acrobats. by a certainlack. representations) that the actor brings to life upon the stage.Vol. At one extreme we find Artaud. it is a locus continually threatened by a certain inadequacy. the actor explores the "other"he creates. By definition. and in between. The paradox of the actor is also the paradox of the spectator: to believe in the other without completely believing in him. a value is assigned to the tension thus created between symbolic structures and self." Thus. the great diversity generated by various schools and individual practices.16 Understanding the fragmentary nature of momentary illusion. controlled through a willful act by which it becomes the locus of knowledge and of mastery. by faults. his technique. 2002 . his is vulnerable. dialogues.2 & 3. to yield to the desire of being the other.31.7 The body of the actor is the privileged locus of the self's confrontation with alterity.100 Josette Feral is enough to assure that theatricalitywill be preserved and that the theatrical act will take place-proof that the actor is one of the indispensable elements in the production of stage-related theatricality.At the same time. As Schechner reminds us.l8However. mechanized marionettes. we may situate the actor'stheatricalityin a process of displacement in which his very self is at stake-in a dynamic whose symbolic structures are riddled with static moments during which the actor must confront the ever-present menace of the return of the self. making it speak. In aesthetic theory. it is imperfect. The actor is simultaneously the producer of theatricalityand the channel through which it passes. These perfectly encoded symbolic structures are easily recognized by a public that appropriates them as a mode of knowledge and experience. the spectator looks at a simulacrum created by the actor. of transformation. He encodes it. oriental theater. an impulsive and symbolic body sometimes yielding to hysteria. As a subject in process.

The dimensions of this framework are larger than the physical-i.It promotes the formationof socialgroupingswhich tend to surroundthemselveswith secrecyand to stresstheirdifferencefromthe commonworld by disguise or other means.Theatricality 101 this body is more than just performance.). lighting. etc. and. free activitystandingquiteconsciouslyoutside "ordinary" "not serious. character. Acting is codified according to rules derived on the one hand from rules governing performance in general (use of the stage. and athlete. which Huizinga has defined as undertaking a life as being . as both opaque and transparent. the period.Vol. These rules supply a framework for the action. it semiotizes everything around it:space. to become involved in activity outside of daily life.It is an activityconnectedwith no materialinterest. it manifests the presence of the actor. and it genre. rhythm. on the other hand. director.e. (13) In other words. as language. and practice. story. and the material nature of the body. designer. dialogue.20 is within this framework that the actor takes certain liberties with respect to the quotidian. nos. scenery. music. of scenic space. the body of the actor is without doubt one of the most important elements of stage-related theatricality. time. 2002 SubStance . or playwright) to consciously occupy the here-and-now of a space different from the quotidian. and costumes. The framework becomes visible only through a tacit encoding of the space and of the players who create the theatrical phenomenon. and the genre. freedom of action within scenic and spatial constraints. More than a simple bearer of information and knowledge. Transformedinto a system of signs.2 & 3. acting is the result of a performer's decision (as actor. and material manifestations vary according to the individual. Acting demands a personal effort whose objectives.. Acting The second fundamental notion of stage-related theatricality is acting.and no profit can be gained by it. story. transgressions."but at the same time absorbingthe player intensively and utterly. more than a vehicle of representation and mimesis. from more specific rules derived from historically defined theatrical aesthetics that vary according to period. It is better therefore to speak of a "theatrical # 98/99. the visible boundaries of the stage--for they encompass a virtual aspect imposed by the liberties and restrictions of acting.. transformations. It brings theatricalityto the stage. the immediacy of the event. It proceedswithin its own properboundariesof time and space accordingto fixed rules and in an orderlymanner.l9 As space.31. and illusion. intensity.

More than a simple result or an imposed final product. knowable and capable of being represented. 2002 .a process.nos. of the arts has come to depend to a great extent upon their ability to destroy theater.(671) Michael Fried notes that the success. has the advantage of stressing the dynamic aspect of the term. who takes possession of the action he watches. Stanislavski and Meyerhold) are profoundly marked by its imprint.In the popular imagination. we have the imbrication of fiction and representation. In other words." which. as well as for certain ones within the field. To speak of the relationship between reality and the theater is to pose the problem of the existence of a reality conceived as autonomous. G. it is important to underline the relationship between theatricality and reality.102 Feral Josette Fra1 framework. for until the beginning of the 20thcentury this relationship was the focus of much theoretical reflection. However. Contemporary philosophy maintains that we can speak of reality only as the product of scientific observation.. that reality is itself a result. the frameworkis. even the survival. "theatricality" each person claims from a different perspective. Stanislavski attempts to make the spectator forget that he is in a theater. and many "poetics" of the theater (e. produced as the expression of a subject in action. 31. Insucha light. In this process of transformation.139is opposed to sincerity.2 Fiction vs. on the contrary. He has gone so far as to maintain that art degenerates as it approaches theater (1968. a readily be theatrical is to be false. as Irving Goffman reminds us. designates completely withanyintimate to inspire it-an attitude one feelingthatis supposed witha deliberate identifies absence of sincerity. but as part of a dynamic process belonging to both the actor and the spectator. the term "theatrical"being pejorative to those engaged in "artistictheater. Theatricality does not emerge passively from an ensemble of theatrical objects whose properties one could enumerate at a glance.g. Vol. the notion of theatricality has a number of pejorative connotations.which 141). It is perceived in the light of relations between subjects and objects transformed into theatrical objects.2 &3. is the seeming equivalence between theatrical representation and reality to be interpreted as indicative of theatricality? For certain artists in fields other than theater. Abensour writes: is moreodiousforthelyrical Nothing poetthantheideaof theatricality thatinitially an attitude unconnected extraneous." SubStance # 98/99. a simulacrum. Reality The third notion about stage-related theatricalitybrings reality into play.

Stanislavski's is marked by history.Theatricalityis the process by which the actor and the director continually remind the spectator that he is in the theater. Today's response to the question of whether theatricalitycan be defined according to any specific relationship between the stage and the reality that is its object. Theatricality is a process that is above all linked to the conditions of theatrical production. since it carriestraces of bygone debates over "naturalism" in the theater-a naturalism opposed to the widely-condemned artificiality of the late nineteenth century. outside of any relationship with reality. a space in which. everything becomes sign. On the other hand. SubStance# 98/99. Rather. Meyerhold believes that theater must aim at a kind of grotesque realism. today they are understood differently. Meyerhold's concept of theatricality is concretized in the actor's ostentatious demonstration to the spectator that he is at the theater. 31. Meyerhold insists on a truly theatrical specificity.his is an act that designates the theater as distinct from reality. On the other hand. the distinction defines a space in which the process of theatrical production is important.Theatricality Theatricality 103 In his view. On the one hand. an intensification of behavior that rings false when juxtaposed with what should be the realistic truth of the stage. Although these debates over naturalism are not completely dead. with naturalism itself being recognized as a form of theatricality. Vol. theatricality appears as a kind of distancing from reality-an effect of exaggeration. it poses the question of representational processes.for we believe that there is not any single. The distinction is fundamental. 2 & 3. privileged subject more appropriate to the theater than any other. but one quite different from the realism described by the naturalists. 2002 . To affirm the "theatrical"as distinct from life and from reality is the condition sine qua non of stage-related theatricality. The stage must speak its own language and impose its own laws. nos. For Meyerhold. theatricality is not to be found in any illusory relationship with reality. it proposes a theatricalitycentered exclusively on the function of the theater as theater. thus transforming it into the sort of cybernetic machine about which Barthes spoke. On the contrary. the truth of the play depends upon a proximity between the actor and the reality he represents. For Stanislavski.appears clear. Nor is it to be linked to a specific aesthetic. As such. there is no equivalence between representation and reality. face-to-face with a consummate actor who is playing a role. Contrary to Meyerhold's definition of theatricality. it must be sought in the autonomous discourse that constitutes theater.

the framework guarantees order. Henceforth. his act has transgressed all shared rules and codes and is no longer perceived as illusion.e. inscribed in a time and space different from the quotidian. of nature. consists of both a limiting framework and a transgressive content. but has crossed back into reality. as Huizinga has shown.25 Activities that violate the "law of reversibility" are forbidden.23 This possibility of violation guarantees the freedom of the actor and the strength of free will of all contributors. he is no longer in the alterity of theatrical space. i.104 Josette Feral The Framework and the Forbidden As with all frameworks. that of the theater has a double edge: working against forces coming from the outside.24 and to of aesthetics norms specific reception that constitute a code of communication shared by actor and spectator.26 Such acts break the tacit contract between spectator and theater that guarantees that what one witnesses is representation. the actor destroys the conditions of theatricality. an act in which the actor reserves the In actually attacking his possibility of returning to his point of departure. duplication. barred from the stage are certain practices of the 1960s in which bodies were mutilated or animals killed for the supposed pleasure of representation. these liberties must not make us forget certain fundamental interdictions. in which the forward march of time is suspended and thus reversible. limits must nevertheless be respected.deformation. the framework of the stage-play would come apart. it authorizes the violation of that same order. but only those initially sanctioned by rules shared by all participants. For example. The framework both authorizes and forbids. in the capacity to violate norms established by nature. transformation. As such. Such acts SubStance# 98/99. nos. 2 & 3. above all. and by the liberties a given These liberties are frequently linked to period allows within a given genre. it does not authorize all freedoms. Vol. imitation. the play in general. and the mingling of stage with reality would destroy the sovereignty of theatrical space. Nevertheless. or play. it opposes any act in which the subject is mutilated or executed. the violation of established norms. Although it is possible to extend the boundaries of the framework. In the theater. and of social order. Were these to be violated.22 essence of theater consist. The freedoms authorized are those of reproduction. However. fiction. However.27 own body (or that of an animal). and society?" asked Evreinov. 2002 . stretch the code to surprise or even shock the public. the state. "Doesn't the from within. and the stage-play in particular. this law guarantees the reversibility of time and event. 31.

As such. in your opinion. Paris. it is because it is not a "property" belonging to the subjects/things that are its vehicles. nor to the actor himself. Of all the arts. Conclusion From these observations we can conclude that theatricality is not a sum of enumerable properties or characteristics. theatricalityis the imbrication of fiction and representation in an "other" space in which the observer and the observed are brought face to face. of his own initiative. no longer subject to the laws of the quotidian. transforms the other into a spectacular object. If the notion of theatricality goes beyond the theater. Universitedu Quebeca Montreal translated by RonaldP. the construction of a fiction. This articlewas first published in Frenchin Poetique. Without this gaze. it is not limited strictly to the theater. 2002 . Theatricalityproduces spectacularevents for the spectator. the theater is best suited to this sort of experimentation. Results of a survey undertakenin 1912by editors of the journalLesMargesreflectthe importanceof this change.LesMarges put the following questionto its readers:"Which.Theatricality Theatricality 105 105 transform the theater into a circus ring and violate one of the limits of the theater. but can be discerned through specific manifestations. This relationship can be initiated either by the actor who declares his intention to act. 347-361. the space." However. Rather. but can be found in dance. Bermingham Notes 1. nos. It belongs neither to the objects.pp. 2. opera. the spectator creates an "other" space. and performance art.theatricality is the result of a perceptual dynamics linking the onlooker with someone or something that is looked at. 1988. theater as such has disappeared. perceiving it as belonging to a space where he has no place except as external observer. and in this space he inscribes what he observes. these examples are not theatricality's only form.Vol. and deduced from phenomena termed "theatrical. as well as in the quotidian. indispensable for the emergence of theatricality and for its recognition as such. It is an act of establishes a relationship that differs from the quotidian.28 Although theatricality may yet be present in the event.2 & 3.31. the other would share the spectator's space and remain part of his daily reality. By watching. or by the spectator who. although each can become its vehicle. is the superiorperson:the one who loves to read or the one who loves to go to the theater?" The majorityof those participatingin the survey responded in SubStance # 98/99.Sept.

He expects a play ratherthan dance. he is the fundamental cause of the emergence and manifestation of theatricality.anothername forreality. or those of the entirepracticeof the 1960sin which the SubStance # 98/99.theatricality is thus linked firstand foremostto the body of the actor and appearsinitiallyas the resultof a that which "transforms the appearanceof nature. 5.2 & 3. It is the love of make-believeimages of the self disguise. the pleasureof creatingillusion.cultural. Fromthe TacitDimension as quotedby J.Evreinovspeaks of transforming nature (we theatricality's will not develop here the theoreticalproblemsintroducedby the notions of natureand reality).Baillonin the articleentitled "D'uneentreprise in Theatre/Public." is an irresistibleimpulse felt by all (Cf. Is there theatricalitywithout the actor? Thisis a fundamental triesto respondto this questionby forcing question. In other words. 7. 55) esthetique. 25 March 1982).takingas our frameof referenceonly those artisticpracticesin which theatricality is present? 13. 9. Cf.which transportsand transforms. 3. Cf. 109-122." even when coupled with "listening.or are we only able to induce theatricality throughthe empiricalobservationof reality.and ThomasAron. ForEvreinov.but preceding the aestheticact of the accomplishedartist. Forexample. 10.Letheatre Accordingto Evreinov. 4. The absence of the actor poses a certainproblems. nos. 6.the experiences of the LivingTheaterin Antigone.p. Please note that the Frenchuse the expression theatralite. named elsewhere by Evreinov as "the theatricalwill. 2002 .31.political.Beckett the actorto work in a space in which he is scarcelyvisible. the special issue devoted to the "Theory in Modern of Drama and Performance" vol. January-June 1975. theatricalitywas present in the subway.Letheatre poursoi).CharlesBouazis. Evreinovsees theatricality as an instinct. opera. 11.Thusthe foundingprocess of theatricalityis a "pre-aesthetic" calling upon the subject'screativity.similarto the instinctfor play felt chezlesanimaux). in a less precise Drama.Flammarion.Vol. In this sense. man is source and primaryobject.the expressionis teatralidad.In this act.physicalexperiencebeforetakingform in an intellectual undertaking focusingupon a given aesthetic. 8. man appears as theatricality's point of creatingsimulacraof the self.One must concludethatforEvreinov. or film.theatricality of universal quality present in man and anteriorto any aestheticact. is theatricality a transcendent propertythat encompassesall forms of reality(artistic.Becausehe has inscribedtheatricalityin the quotidian.106 Josette Feral et sa condition favor of those who read. 98.the participation forcedupon the spectators by the actors. of projecting and of realityin plain view of others.Andre Veinstein. while the English oscillate and "theatricality" between "theatrality" (cf.thus de-emphasizingthe importanceof the term. I would maintainthatEvreinov'sview of theatricality concernsanthropologyand ethnology more than theater." Spectacleis the opposite of dialogue.economic). This permits us to approachthe second scenario(the scene in the subway) from the in the opposite directionand to answerthe questionabout the presenceof theatricality affirmative. the works of MerceaMarghescou. even if the spectatordidn't realize that he was witnessing a theatrical production.pp."L'instinct is centralto the process. 12. Guy Debord writes that one must not identify spectaclewith the act of "lookingat.Lamiseen scenetheatrale Paris. the space that he enters is alreadycoded. is a kind by animals(Cf.Yes. An identicalsituationoccurredin paintingwhen the invention of photographyforced artiststo redefinethe goals and the specificityof the art form itself. fashion. SharonMarieCarnicke's th6atral: Evreinovet la theatralite" article. 1955. as well as early notions of literarityby the PragueSchool." This instinct. de theatralite" No 18/19. (Cf. Evreinovhas caused the specificityof stage-relatedtheatricality to disappear.In Spanish.

123. SubStance # 98/99. continuesto become increasinglyimportant.which are governedby constraintsof period. Theatre/Public no. such as Artaud are more introspectiveand de-emphasizethe corporalpresence. December1984.and vulnerable. 20-21." 16. 62 de theatre Jeuno." (Quotedby Evreinovin Sharon depending upon the degree of theatricality Marie Carnicke. unique. the nudity accepted on today's stage. nos. J. Althoughthevirtualframework governingstagingwas well delineatedduringthe 1950s. and often to defend himself from the feeling of being violated. in the 1950s.the subject. into the "other's"space. countries. the freedomsand violationsthathad been authorizedby the aesthetictheoriesof earlier periods did not. Schechner. PeterBrook.4) the presenceof a subjectwho."Inthe theater. Others.permitthe exposureof the actor'snakedbody.) theatrales. Violationsauthorizedby theatricality dependupon the rulesof variousperiods.forexample.would have governedthe representation of a Sophoclean tragedy. at work.Vol.For example. 25:"Ican take any empty spaceand call it a stage. made anachronous by new technologies. Accordingto Piemme.Thus. singular. The rules of stage play are differentduring the Elizabethanperiod than during the classicalperiod.Theparallel between sports and theater has often been discussed.the body.L'espace vide(Paris: Seuil.2 & 3. As Dostoevskihas remarked.In this regard. 1977). "Alleffectiveperformances sharethis "not-notnot" quality:Olivieris not Hamlet.Thisshockis identicalto thatfeltby the spectatorat an athleticcompetition.just as plays belongingto the Commedia dell'arte traditionnever impose rulesthat. 14.rulesdifferaccordingto one's stancewith respectto traditional practicesvis-a-vis those inheritedfrom the 1960s. stage-playmustbe carriedout within the framework 21. singular. Today. 40) 20. Cf. aesthetic. plural."Cf.the latterbeinga conceptapproaching It would be interestingto explore the distinguishingaspects of specific. The relationshipof the actorto his body varies greatlyaccordingto the school. singular. theatricalities linked to given periods or genres.which "transcends" these conditions.genres.still others.strive for the completemechanizationand total transparence of the actor.when the humanbeing is bowled over by the force of images produced by the technology of modern reproduction.2) a creativeact thatgoes beyond the limits of the quotidian. space. basing their practice upon an athletic methodology.but is between a denial of being another(= I am also he is not not Hamlet:his performance me) and a denial of not being another(= I am Hamlet).and comparethemwith theatricality. was viewed as scandalousduring the 1950s. the virtual frameworkdelineatedby the theatricalprocess does not authorize all liberties. such as thatof Grotowski.Lesouffleur inquiet. singular.31.Piemmewrites that theatricality is thatwhich the theateralone is able to produce.and upon theoriesof aesthetics. specialeditionof Alternatives nos. 18. 23. Thus even though one of the theater'sfunctions is to assume responsibilityfor the violation of norms.the body.yields its placeto theatricalities. thatof aesthetics. any attemptto elaboratea history of the rules of of a historyof theatrical aesthetics. a semiotizationof signs.p. with realityareincreasinglyindirect. throughthe use of 22. or even upon the stage of the Middle Ages. 15. it suffices only that someone crosses this empty space while someone else watches. Cf.theatricality. 2002 . Certain schools.M. 1985)as well as Lescahiers (March-April 19. A list of the characteristics and propertiesof theatricality would include the following elements:1) a representational act that transforms reality."(Piemme.Althoughits interactions it material.two times two make three.(Cf. 105) his body. p.the body. 17.such as Craig.or even five. structures the imaginary. by its fundamentally materialpresencein space. For a theatricalact to begin. time.and genre."At the moment when the experienceof reality is more and more indirect. thatwhichotherartscannot produce.P.3) an ostentatiousact of the body. 20 (1981-1983).emphasizethe completemasteryof the body.Theatricality 107 spectatorsuddenly found himself forced to enter into the action of the play.

on Theatre. "L'instinct slaves. . Thomas. Special edition of Alternativestheatrales.Litterarite Paris:Mame. Paris:Les Belles Lettres.Charles. New York:theatreCommunications Group.R. 27.Vsevolod.. Meyerhold.Peter. London:Routledge. New York:DramaBookSpecialists. These interdictionsdo not however constitutethe limits of theatricality. Le Souffleur Piemme.1930. cf.. 139-141.1982.Jacques.Paris:Seuil. .1999. Essayson Performance Theory. When this distanceis not maintained.TheTacitDimension.Dec. inquiet. NY:Doubleday. VictorWitter. 109-22.I'Espace th6atral: Evreinovet la theatralite. there would be intrusionon the part of the spectatorinto a space that is not his.Paris:Stock.Nicolas. Ritual: onFace-to-Face Behavior. Aristotle.1959. Fried. Ecritssur le theatre.P." 1975.-June Baillon." Anthology. 20-21. However.Lamiseenscenetheatrale esthetique. Writings PerformingArts JournalPublications. 671-679. Mircea. Stanislavski.Nos. This processparallelsWinnicott'sin affirmingthatthe actor'semotionalinvestmentin the stage-playmust distanceitself from subjectivelyfelt desires. Letheatre and Theatricality: in the Age of Diderot. G. 4 (1982).Leconcept delitterarite: essaisurlespossibilites d'unescience de Marghescou. Cf.Michael. et sa condition Paris:Flammarion. Erving. SubStance # 98/99. Between Philadelphia:Univ. Myerhold La Cite-L'Aged'Homme. For example. 1984. Michael. Focusing upon what is forbidden. An ActorPrepares. theoriques la litterature. In Theatre/Public. 1980.1978. 26.1977. sur le comedien. Huizenga. Diderot'sParadoxe In this regard. No. Bouazis.pp. Trans. 1 & 2. the spectacles of StuartShermanin the 1960s. 1955. New York:TheatreArts Books.108 Josette Feral 24.LeParadoxe dansla vie. et societe:theoried'un modele du fonctionnementlitteraire. Brook. Homo A Studyof thePlayElement Ludens: in Culture. 1981.Vol. Litterature 1984.2 & 3.97-108. the process of killing animals seems more easily incorporated with representationthan is mutilationof the actor. Jean-Marie.Vol.Poetics. "Blokface a Meyerholdet Stanislavskiou le probleme de la theatralit6. 18-19. "Art and Objecthood.However. 53. 25. The Hague:Mouton. 1973.SharonMarie. New York: Turner." Revue desttudes slaves.Denis and JacquesBaillon.1974.From Ritual toTheatre: onCulture andPerformance.Andre. ThePresentation of Selfin Everyday Life. GardenCity. Vide. Absorption Paintingand Beholder Berkeley:UC Press.Konstantin. Veinstein. Dutton.Interaction Essays 1967. Polany.pp.Jan. this form of mutilationoften elicits fierceopposition from the spectators. Paris:Papiers. Theater andAnthropology. 1977. du comedien.Johan.31.NY:1967.NY:Anchor. PennsylvaniaPress. GardenCity. CecileSeresia. Lausanne: . GardenCity. Aron. nos.No. Schechner." Works Cited Abensour.enteringthat of reality. Bataille'snotion of the "sacred.the actorleaves the realmof stage-play. 28. A Critical New York:E. in this case. 54. 1936. 1968. Evreinov. Goffman. Minimal Art. et litterarite: essai de mise au point. .pp. Diderot. no.1985. Vols. London:Metheun. the concernsof the spectatordo not count.[1949]1980." Revuedes etudes Carnicke. 1972. for if they did. 2002 ."D'uneentreprisede theatralite. 1985.