Rhapsody For The Theatre
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For Alain Badiou, theatre—unlike cinema—is the place for the staging of a truly emancipatory collective subject. In this sense theatre is, of all the arts, the one strictly homologous to politics: both theatre and politics depend on a limited set of texts or statements, collectively enacted by a group of actors or militants, which put a limit on the excessive power of the state. This explains why the history of theatre has always been inseparable from a history of state repression and censorship.
This definitive collection includes not only Badiou’s pamphlet Rhapsody for the Theatre but also essays on Jean-Paul Sartre, on the political destiny of contemporary theatre, and on Badiou’s own work as a playwright, as author of the Ahmed Tetralogy.
musicians, organ players? Would the right to discuss in the great halls the merit of the stars have to be limited, in the eyes of these atemporal and cantankerous authors, to the comparison between Bossuet and Bourdaloue?25 LV Today we can return to this irritating question with calm: the play of the mass is performed only convivially with the decor of prestressed concrete surrounding a white wooden family table on which an ironmonger’s ciborium is placed with negligence. The central
when the ethical virtuality of play is achieved, that an actor or an actress can excel. But the stage event in turn demands the conjunction of two artists: the theatre writer and the stage director. An actor or actress is, in the end, the ethical in-between of two artistic propositions. LXIV Finally, what the church abhors in theatre and especially in the play is the fact that to the natural ethics whose spectacle it organizes, theatre opposes an ethics of the event and of singularity. For
always, by desire. Theatre would be: philosophy seized by debauchery, the Idea on the auction block of sex, the intelligible dressed up in costume at the fair. Thus, on the side of philosophy (the Idea, the intelligible), it would rival with the master, and on the side of debauchery (sex, the street fair), it would be the accomplice of psychoanalysis. Theatre: the putting-into-bodies of the Idea. From the point of desire, it is its life; from the point of the Idea, it is its tomb. Whence the
the dialectics of theatre. The stage director is the regent of objectivity, he or she signs the spectacle, and besides he or she is also often the ‘boss’ of the theatre in question. The actor, as we saw, is the body of subjectivity. And the spectator occupies the position of Absolute Knowledge. There are also financial relations to these instances, because in the world as we know it every dialectic traces its outline against the background of the general equivalent of money. The financial point
beyond the reach of meaning. Now, theatre shows that any real measure of time involves a presentation of the atemporal. It exhibits the maximal conjunction, that of the instant and eternity. It constructs its own time, whereas we endure the time of banality. Theatre indicates to us that in order for us to know who we are, where we stand and what our time is worth, we need Hamlet, Antigone, Solness the builder, Bérénice and Galileo, who exist atemporally only in the experimental and singular time