tenth part, called “what is theatre? X,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

What is theatre?

To the line of artifice we can add the line of exaggeration which has been there from the start. The stage draws a line under events. The line of exaggeration is the height or thickness of that line.

It too calls into question what is represented. But not by being crossed to show that what is represented is produced, a product of art or artifice. The line of exaggeration calls into question what is represented not by showing the representation to be no more than show but by showing it to be show and nothing else, the nothing of the stage.

Some artifice surely exaggerates and exaggeration relies on artifice but the two are as different as cross-dressing and clowning. And so artifice is considered to be the more serious, having the theatricality of camp. While exaggeration is the badge or mark of the not serious: You were out-rage-ous last night, darling. And now you belong to me, it says. While the lies we let each other tell spell the truth, they show the truth to be all puff and blow.

Is then the stage nothing? the line of the stage we have been following. The line of exaggeration would seem to say that it adds nothing to nothing, with a wink to artifice, because it seems like nothing. But only to those who have no hearts. For those who have, we know it’s all for nothing, which makes us care all the more.

You might say the line of exaggeration erases the work done by the line of artifice, but we know it’s all in the undoing: that this is where life is, in the continua between dimensions. And in the blacked out theatre before a thing is built we stare into the dark mouth of it… but what is it exactly? What is it between life and nothing?

Whatever is on its surface. The minimum for the line to be there. The minimum for the line to be there now assumes its status. Nothing under it, this the line of exaggeration shows.

Less than a physical framework and more fake than real: the appearance of the rear curtains now motivated by the absence of anything else. Or the scintilla of sand we cannot sweep away from the acting area. In the lines of the stage, on its line: an undoing that preserves its undoing inside itself, like a fold or a pattern repeated, then repeating inside itself. Yes, we can see how this could be thought, because it has the abstraction of thought. Because it abstracts from the physical what is no more than its support. Its screen.

And is it for this we see it as a subject? Is it for this reason we see as being the principal function of the stage to produce the subject? Not the image, no. The image, produced on the line of exaggeration, adds nothing. Not the person. And not (yet) the individual. Then if the stage is material support and so is the screen, what’s the thinking bit?

Isn’t it, rather than the line of the stage, and the thought which belongs to it, that encircles the stage and burrows into its depths, and covers the edges of the screen, isn’t it the thought of the stage? or screen? Then isn’t it the thought of this thought? And the thought of that thought? And beyond that thought the one that thinks it, and so on, an en abîme that only seems to go outwards to the material and physical but really goes inwards, inside and inside itself again. This I would say is what theatre is: a way in.

note: source references available on request–these will be part of the book, if it should come to pass.

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