Book Review: Roger Bensky's Masque foudroyé


Bensky then reminds us that Dionysus, going into a frenetic and ecstatic madness and finally making his way back to Olympus through Asia Minor and Thrace, would finally re-establish a recognition of his original maternal bearer, but by another, new, name: descending to Hades, he brings her back and enthrones her once again on Olympus as the goddess Thyone, before himself marrying Ariane and thereby establishing a relationship "between mask and labyrinth."

The author underlines the manner in which Dionysus therefore belongs to several natures at once (celestial, human, infernal), has undergone a dual gestation marked by an abyssal caesura, and has been dismembered and reconstructed. The result is the following recreation of the significance of the myth: Dionysus, an ontologically multiple entity, becomes the mask of the actor, and thus the characters of the stage, and his mother, the "textual space" which originally gave birth to this last, comes to constitute a maternity recalled into existence by its very offspring, the mise en scène.
This is a new and fruitful way of rethinking the "debate" exemplified in this issue of Applied Semiotics / Sémiotique appliquée by Übersfeld on the one hand, who considers the theatre as a birth of the play from within the text, and by Sarrazac on the other, who views the passage "from text to stage" rather as a merely metaphoric truth, preferring a conception which "goes from the director or author to the public" through a genesis of meaning dependent on form alone. In the former framework, we have a view of the mise en scène as a manner of solving, in part at least, the riddle of Vitez' "Sphinx that is the text," whereas in the latter, this riddle is not solved, but rather brought to bear, to fruition, and is thus deliberately posed as an unanswered question by the mise en scène. Bensky's paradigm constitutes one way of arriving at a compelling synthesis of these paradoxical mutual geneses. Dionysus is therefore, as the dramatic character deconstructed and thus understood through "dismemberment" by the hermeneutical process in the spectator's mind, the masque foudroyé, the shattered mask.
The author then goes on to look at Ionesco's work in terms of this mythographical paradigm, which he continues to develop and enrich. A section entitled "Ionesco : Dionysos en amont et en aval" examines such a view of La cantatrice chauve (the reader of course recognises the work translated as The Bald Soprano) and La leçon. Here he exploits the "heterodox teachings" promoted along the erring path (the "creative folly") of the god of theatre.

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AS/SA Nº3, Article 5 : Page 2 / 6

© 1997, AS/SA

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