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Architectonics of Theatricality

Theatre Performance in a Semiotic Perspective

Ivaylo Alexandroff

The cultural discourse of theatrical performance defines the theatre sign interaction as an active semiosis. This, in turn, specifies the main objective of the study – the formulation of the basic parameters of this architectonics as a fundament of théâtralité. Since the time of Antiquity the theatre has always been discussing general aesthetic, philosophical, ethical and social issues in the context of a visual image of the specific objects of an intellectual discourse. The book takes a close look at this process of signification, formation of meanings, presentation and interpretation on stage: a theatre performance is a product of an intense sign environment and a major symbol of theatricality.
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Actors in the stage space - semantics of interpretation


In his study “The Prague School Concept of the Stage Figure” [1989]137 Quinn defines the ideas of Aristotle and Diderot as a starting point for a radical understanding of theatre as a semiotic sign system. Of course, here he refers primarily to the theories of the Prague structuralists on stage figure, but presupposes a solid impact on these theories coming from the aforementioned authors in a purely semiotic perspective. As Quinn points out, both “Poetics” of Aristotle and “The Paradox of Acting” of Diderot should completely informally be seen as a supra-semiotic theory of acting (pre-semiotic acting theories), which deeply focus on the issue of actor’s representation as a character on the stage from a position of a detached approach to the creation of any work of art.138 Here we might note that the definition of actor’s sign by Mukarovsky also corresponds successfully with the ideas set by Aristotle in “Poetics”: “… for the structure of any given work [of art] it is very important to know whether it treats its subject as a ‘real’ (perhaps even documentary) one or a ‘fictitious’ one whether it oscillates between these two poles”139. Aristotle himself did not, in particular, review the actor’s performance separately from the theory of drama. But his attitude to the language, as a principle of expression, could be seen as an idea for a formal theory of actors’ interpretation:

“Aristotle comes closer to a distinction between diction, the medium of language (the actor – emphasis mine), and...

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