Patrice Pavis: "The State of Current Theatre Research"


In reaction to this text-based segmentation (i.e. a segmentation suggested by the text), theory has naturally looked for units based on the stage actions of the performance. But here again, researchers do not always resist the philological (or texto-centric) temptation to reduce the acting to units which are marked in the text where it is possible (or, in their view where it is essential) to note an actor's move. Such segmentation, which absolutely insists on movements and dramaturgical units coinciding at very precise moments anchored in the text, arbitrarily privileges one signifying system (visible, marked moves) and imposes a text-based segmentation on the rest of the performance. Rather than establishing a purely textual segmentation, one should choose a mode of segmentation based on the global rhythm of the performance, the rhythm of physical actions and the musical composition of the mise en scène: i.e. according to the temporal sequence of the rhythmic frameworks. In brief, one should take into account those sequences when text and stage move 'out of sync,' and above all respect the possible vectorisations in the nose en seine as a whole.

2.3. Textual Concretisation

In the same logocentric way, there is (or was) a tendency to see the production as the stage concretisation of the preexisting dramatic text, to deduct it from the reading of the dramatic text, which would find its concretisation in the performance. As regards classical works which are produced over and over again, of course one can understand this need to refer back to the text in order to compare the series of possible stage concretisations (Pavis, 1985). But that again is a philological, "bookish" attitude - to use Lehmann's (1989: 43) merciless term - where the stage is examined from a textual point of view: in actual fact, the two fields cannot really be compared. Performance analysis takes the completed empirical object as its starting point and does not attempt to go back to what might have generated it. We must consider the stage as an autonomous field which, contrary to Ingarden's view, does not have to concretise, materialise or negate a preexisting dramatic text, and is thus "an artistic practice which cannot be foreseen and predetermined from the perspective of the text" (Lehmann, 1989: 44). We shall return to this relationship between the text and performance if only to overcome this false opposition (part 2, chapter 5).

2.4. The Status of the Text

The status of the text in the production, which might be called the staged text, should be questioned here. The words spoken by the actor (or any other kind of stage utterance) must be analysed in the way they are concretely stated on stage, coloured by the voice of the actor and the interpretation of the scene, and not in the way we would analyse them if we had read the written text. Text and performance are no longer thought of as having a cause and effect relationship, but as two relatively independent ensembles which do not always necessarily work together for the sake of illustration. redundance or commentary.

2.5. The Narratological Model

Performance analysis can also have recourse to narratology, which serves to identify the various components of the performance and make the dynamics of the stage events explicit. But here again, as with the segmentation of the performance, the narratological model should not be based on the text alone, but also on the stage events; it should be neither too universal nor too closely modelled on a parochial case. If narratology is particularly well-developed for the,analysis of narrative and film, it is not the case with theatre; perhaps because theatre, particularly Western theatre is too often considered in an all too unilateral way in terms of mimesis as opposed to diegesis. Instead of asking ourselves what is represented mimetically, we shall examine what is narrated, how, by whom and from which perspective (Barko, Burgess 1988). Theatre is not a world full of mimetic signs, but a narrative which uses signs. Dynamic research on the storyteller in the theatre (Haddad, 1982)3 clearly shows that the actor can also narrate and that narratology would be very useful for dramaturgy.

3. See also Pepito Mateo, "Pepito Matéo, Conteur?," Dire, no 15.

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AS/SA Nº3, Article 1 : Page 11 / 16

© 1997, AS/SA

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