By Jean Alter

Analyzes the fundamental duality of theatre (the play is occurring on a degree, however the tale is occurring at some place else and time), exploring how the 2 elements either compete and supplement one another, and suggesting the social components that effect the full procedure.

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Extra resources for A sociosemiotic theory of theatre

Sample text

In the past, however, sociology of literature was rather expected to investigate the social generation of particular literary works, revealing how their specific themes and forms are influenced by historically determined social factors. " In the same spirit, "sociosemiotics" will then refer here not only to a general sociology of signs but also, and mainly, to the survey of social factors that determine historical changes in the function, nature, and meaning of particular sets of signs. And these particular sets of signs, in this case, will be sets of signs that operate in theatre.

Page 15 Formal interaction as a mainspring of change in theatre poses different problems. In contrast with personal inspiration, theatrical forms, past and present, can be easily surveyed. Also, much is known about their relation to other art forms and various cultural features. It is tempting therefore to seek, in the interaction of formal factors, the source of variations in theatre styles and individual works. In this spirit, through development, antithesis, or contact with newly discovered alien forms, classicism begets romanticism, romanticism begets symbolism, symbolism begets naturalism, and so forth.

The overall picture is now sufficiently clear. It ought to be quite familiar. Indeed, as defined by its five main features, my theatrical corpus closely corresponds to the public events experienced by the vast majority of Western audiences under the name of "theatre" or its equivalent in other languages. To sum it up, as economically as possible, we shall posit therefore that, in our tradition, theatre stands for the set of past, present, and perhaps future public performances that are based on fixed verbal texts essentially composed by dialogues, and during which live actors present the actions of characters involved in a fictional story.

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