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Biopolitics, Materiality and Meaning in Modern European Drama$
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Hedwig Fraunhofer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474467438

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474467438.001.0001

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Where Does the Body End? Artaud’s Materialsymbolic Theatre

Where Does the Body End? Artaud’s Materialsymbolic Theatre

(p.235) Chapter 6 Where Does the Body End? Artaud’s Materialsymbolic Theatre
Biopolitics, Materiality and Meaning in Modern European Drama

Hedwig Fraunhofer

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter offers a descriptive reading of Artaud’s most famous play, The Cenci (1935), that respects the materiality and temporality of Artaud’s text, while also including a discussion of the play’s sparse production history. Breaking down immunitarian walls between self and other, Artaud’s theatre of cruelty provides a performative assemblage of human and nonhuman actors or actants, (human) spectators, non-verbal theatrical tools, and forces and energies that transverses the binary distinction between materiality and mind, aesthetic perception and meaning. Together with Brechtian theatre and the theatre of the absurd, Artaud’s use of space and the mythical and ritual dimension of his theatrical vision constitute the end of “fourth-wall realism,” prefiguring the postdramatic, “dialogue-less” theatre of the 1960s to 90s. Inspiring Deleuze’s view of art, Artaud’s theatre brings us to the limits of what our embodied selves can endure and to the limits of representation, opening the horizon of death. In this sense, as the experience of limits, theatre is again what theatre scholar Una Chaudhuri calls “boundary work”.

Keywords:   Artaud, Les Cenci, material, nonhuman, theatre of cruelty, limits, death, boundary work, postdramatic, Deleuze

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