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Theatre, Linguistics, and Two Productions of ‘No Man's Land’

  • Susan Melrose

Abstract

Pursuing the theme of the preceding article, on possible approaches to the teaching of theatre analysis. Susan Melrose here suggests that contemporary linguistics offers a methodology which may help us to look at dramatic texts in such a way as to discover a semantics which transcends the merely verbal. The author proceeds to test her suggested method in a comparative examination of two actual productions – a French and an English version of Pinter's No Man's Land – and looks in detail at the opening scene of Julius Caesar. She concludes that in both cases what the actor often senses intuitively may also be analyzed ‘in process’ in terms of the language and rhetoric of the text. Susan Melrose is presently a Lecturer in Theatre Studies in the University of Tunis. She presented an earlier version of this paper to the Conference on Theatre Analysis held in May 1984 at the University of Warwick, after completing her doctorate at the Sorbonne Nouvelle.

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Notes and References

1. Pavis, P., ‘Towards a Semiology of the Mise en scene?’ in Languages of the Stage: Essays in the Semiology of the Theatre (New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982).

2. Kristeva's, Julia work has been translated as Desire in Language: a Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, ed. Roudiez, L. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979).

3. See in particular Halliday's Language as Social Semiotic: the Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning (London: Edward Arnold, 1979).

4. Fawcett, R., Cognitive Linguistics and Social Interaction (Heidelberg and Exeter, 1980).

5. Pavis, P., ‘Problèmes d'une sémiologie du geste théâtral’, in Voix et images de la scène: essais de sémiologie théâtrale (Presses Universitaires de Lille, 1982).

6. Jakobson, R., ‘Linguistics and Poetics’, in Sebeok, T., ed., Style in Language (Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1960).

7. Serpieri, A. et al. , ‘Towards a Segmentation of the Dramatic Text’, in Poetics Today: Drama, Theater, Performance: a Semiotic Perspective, II, 3 (Spring 1981).

8. Ariane Mnouchkine's text is available from the Théâtre du Soleil, Vincennes, France. The production was first performed in 1982, and is part of a Shakespeare cycle performed by the Théâtre du Soleil.

9. Pinter, H., No Man's Land (London: Eyre Methuen, 1975).

10. Pinter, H., No Man's Land, suivi d'autres pièces, adaptation française d'Eric Kahane (Paris: Gallimard, 1979).

Theatre, Linguistics, and Two Productions of ‘No Man's Land’

  • Susan Melrose

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