Editorial Introduction to the Issue
Université Paris III
The Theatrical Relation
1. The theatrical dialogue appears as a mime of "possible" words, of "real-life" exchanges, but it is also a second text (in Bakhtine's terms), an artefact, and as such, an aesthetic object which requires of the spectator an aesthetic perception. Theatre dialogue is thus understood not only as an exchange between two or more voices, but as a poem - both as a medium portraying ideas and emotions and as a productive fusion of images and sounds lending itself to a poetic analysis.
2. The theatrical dialogue is a succession of conversational exchanges dependent upon linguistic enunciation, which is to say "the transformation of language into actual performance by an individual act of usage."
3. Language in the theatre is active. Every utterance (each line a character says) not only has meaning, but constitutes action, and modifies the situation of communication. The essential element of theatrical utterances is thus the language act it produces, which affects all subsequent dialogue. This implies both that theatrical dialogue is not simply conversation, but the creation of action, and therefore that the analysis of dialogue must be first and foremost the determination of a series of language acts. An examination of theatrical dialogue is therefore predicated upon the employment of pragmatics, or in other words the analysis of the conditions and situational functioning of communication. This will rely not only on the examination of the series of language acts in question, but also on the contracts which permit and sustain the dialogue exchange.