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It's about Time: The Temporal Evolution of Order


This article borrows its methodology from physics in order to analyse time in the theatre as evolution of order. Two set designs (both designed by Roni Toren for the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem) are portrayed through this perspective, representing inverse examples. In Measure for Measure, directed by Gadi Roll, the temporal evolution of space is from order to disorder, obeying the second law of thermodynamics. On the other hand, in The Seagull, directed by Ofira Henig, the evolution contradicts that law. The problem of depicting disorder on stage, the possibility of such a contradiction, the implication of the two different perceptions and their ethical values are discussed to prove the effectiveness of a methodology adopted from physics.

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1 ‘We arrange it. It collapses. / We rearrange it, and collapse ourselves’. Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Ellegies, tr. J. B. Leishman and Stephen Spender (London: The Hogarth Press, 1968) pp. 80–1.

2 St Augustine, Confessions, tr. William Watts (London: William Heinemann, 1912) Book XI.14, p. 239.

4 Price, Huw, Time's Arrow and Archimedes’ Point: New Directions for the physics of Time (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

5 As in the title of the first chapter of Price's book, ‘The View from Nowhen’. It refers to the title of another philosophical book, Nagel, Thomas, The View from Nowhere (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).

6 St Augustine, Book XI.18, p. 251.

7 Ibid., Book XI.14, p. 239.

8 For example, Lorand, Ruth, Aesthetic Order: A Philosophy of Order, Beauty and Art (London and New York: Routledge, 2000).

9 Just two examples from many: Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (London: Tavistock, 1970; translation of Les Mots et les choses); Butler, Judith, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990).

10 William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act I, sc. iii.

11 Bohm, David and Peat, F. David, Science, Order, and Creativity (London: Routledge, 1987), p. 116.

12 Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977).

13 Measure for Measure, Act V, sc. i.

14 The Bible (New King James Version), Exodus 21:23–5.

15 Bohm and Peat, Science, Order, and Creativity, p. 145.

16 Measure for Measure, Act V, sc. i.

18 Foucault, Michel, L'Ordre du discourse (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), p. 14.

19 Chekhov, Anton, The Seagull, in Plays (New York: The Illustrated Editions Company, 1935), 365 here p. 64.

20 Ibid, p. 62.

21 Ibid, p. 5.

22 Ibid, p. 7.

23 Ibid, p. 22.

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Theatre Research International
  • ISSN: 0307-8833
  • EISSN: 1474-0672
  • URL: /core/journals/theatre-research-international
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