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By A. Sidiropoulou

A ancient, theoretical, and comparative research of the emergence of the director-as-author phenomenon, posing questions of authorship and redefining the connection among 'playwright' and the director-playwright.

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It forces us to gaze into the horror of individual existence, yet without being turned to stone by the vision: a metaphysical solace momentarily lifts us above the whirl of shifting phenomena . . now we see the struggle, the pain, the destruction of appearances as necessary, because of the constant proliferation of forms pushing into life, because of the extravagant fecundity of the world will. (Nietzsche 1990, 102) Almost certainly, the ideological foundations of the battle against theatre’s literaturalization were first laid out by Artaud, who insisted on the prevalence of the “poetry of senses” over the “poetry of language,” identifying its concrete physical power in its ability to express thoughts that were beyond the reach of the spoken language (TD, 37) and trusting that metaphor, imagery and allegory contained the kernels of “true expression,” much more than lucid speech, since “all true feeling is in reality untranslatable.

More importantly, he dismissed the hegemony of literature over theatre as fatal and advocated the liberation of the stage from the written word, becoming one of the first writers-artists to explore the fluid boundaries between text and performance. In this light, even though his ideas were seldom tested within the four walls of a theatre (the total of his directing work was limited to the productions of a mere three full-length and four one-act plays),2 the observations in The Theatre and its Double acted as a radical stimulus in the already changing climate in the arts of the 1920s and 1930s.

The performative mode appears instead of the denotive mode of the later plays, with the result that accidental meaning subverts any didactic intention. . In these plays there is no appeal to the audience to solve the contradictions outside the deliberately unfinished work. The work of the plays is on language, with the effect that the characters are not self-present but continually constitute themselves via an other. (1988, 97) While new perspectives are being called for in evaluation of Brecht’s alleged assimilation into postmodernism and despite the fact that we can neither fully ignore nor whole-heartedly accept the validity of his limitless faith in objective truth— any more than we can painlessly sum-up or resolve notions of “survival” in today’s art-satiated world—the axiomatic split between the social and the aesthetic function of art remains.

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