The Macaronic Stage

  • Marvin Carlson


One of the first books on theatre semiotics published in English was a collection of essays by Patrice Pavis entitled Languages of the Stage.1 The title referred to the observation, central to theatre semiotics, that the theatre speaks many languages, often simultaneously, not only in the dialogue but in costume, gesture, movement, setting, lighting, and so on. Rarely if ever has spoken language been the theatre’s only channel of communication, and often it has not even been the most important. Much of the alternative and avant-garde theatre of the twentieth century has emphasized this multichannel aspect of theatrical art, and a very wide variety of contemporary experimental work continues this tradition. A number of major artists have emphasized visual images over the spoken text. Robert Wilson provides a particularly striking example of this, and one might also cite the entire Tanztheater movement in Germany, the closely related work of Maguy Marin in France and Martha Clarke in the United States, or companies like Barcelona’s Fura dels Baus, or Amsterdam’s Dogtroep. Mixing film and video with live action extends the multichannel aspect of theatrical production still further, and again one might cite many important recent experimental artists and companies that have worked in this direction: Robert Lepage in Canada, Peter Greenaway in England, and in the United States most of the leading experimental groups in recent years, including the Mabou Mines, Reza Abdoh’s company, the Wooster Group, and most recently the Builder’s Company.


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Copyright information

© Claire Sponsler and Xiaomei Chen 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marvin Carlson

There are no affiliations available

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