Of Borders and Thresholds: Theatre History, Practice, and Theory

Of Borders and Thresholds: Theatre History, Practice, and Theory

Of Borders and Thresholds: Theatre History, Practice, and Theory

Of Borders and Thresholds: Theatre History, Practice, and Theory

Excerpt

You could be powerful, and still be the prisoner of the frontier.

FATIMA MERNISSI, Dreams of Trespass

If one wishes to push forward the political debate… it is necessary to construct
a new language — and a new language means… new objects, new problems,
new values, and the possibility of discursively constructing new antagonisms
and new forms of struggle.

ERNESTO LACLAU, New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time

In one of his theatre manifestos, Tadeusz Kantor, a Polish visual artist, theatre director, and theoretician, wrote:

For the moment of the ACTOR'S first appearance before the HOUSE
(to use current terminology) seems to me, on the contrary, revolu
tionary
and avant-garde.… OPPOSITE those who remained on this
side there stood a MAN DECEPTIVELY SIMILAR to them, yet (by
some secret and ingenious “operation”) infinitely DISTANT, shock
ingly FOREIGN, as if DEAD, cut off by an invisible BARRIER—no
less horrible and inconceivable, whose real meaning and THREAT
appear to us only in DREAMS. AS though in a blinding flash of
lightning, they suddenly perceived a glaring, tragically circuslike
IMAGE OF MAN, as if they had seen him FOR THE FIRST TIME, as
if they had seen THEIR VERY SELVES.

These haunting images of a border between the selves found their material equivalent in Kantor's production of The Dead Class, which was staged in the renaissance basement of the Krzysztofory Gallery in Kraków (Poland) in 1975. Upon entering the performance space, audience members saw two ropes that divided them from the actors, or, to use a metaphor from the manifesto, the world of the living from the world of the dead. Behind . . .

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