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Barthes, Beckett and the theatre: three dialogues

McMullan, A. ORCID: (2022) Barthes, Beckett and the theatre: three dialogues. Paragraph, 45 (2). pp. 172-186. ISSN 0264-8334

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3366/para.2022.0395


Although Roland Barthes never wrote a play, ‘theatre’ or related terms such as ‘scenario’ or ‘theatricality’ recur throughout his oeuvre from the 1950s to the late 1970s. He wrote many reviews of theatre, but theatre and performance also became integral to much of the theoretical concerns of his later work. During this same period, Samuel Beckett’s dramaturgy was evolving from his first full-length play, Eleutheria, to the later ‘dramaticules’ such as Not I, which premiered in 1973. Barthes did comment on Beckett a few times in his theatre criticism, mainly in relation to En attendant Godot or avant-garde theatre, but there is little overt interchange between them. However, this essay creates a series of ‘dialogues’ by juxtaposing selected plays from different moments in Beckett’s dramaturgical evolution with different moments in Barthes’s writings about theatre: firstly, the reaction against and deconstruction of post-war mainstream French theatre; secondly, theatre’s engagement with history; and thirdly, performance as a paradigm and site for staging multiple versions of the self.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Samuel Beckett Research Centre
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:102768
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press


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