The Reality of Doing

Real Speech Acts in the Theatre
  • David Z. Saltz


Theatre scholar Bernard Beckerman defines theatre as a show of “illusion” that displays “people pretending to do something. Whatever they do is a representation of some other action.”1 This definition makes explicit a view that many theatre and performance theorists take for granted. In particular, the dichotomy between stage action and “real” action is integral to semiotic theories of theatre, according to which stage action stands to real action as a signifier to a signified. As theatre semiotician Keir Elam writes: “What converts objects, people and action into signs on stage … is the removal of the performance from praxis. This may seem self-evident and commonplace, but upon this simple act of severance rests the whole power of theatrical semiosis, indeed its very existence.”2


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Copyright information

© David Krasner 2000

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  • David Z. Saltz

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