Postmodern Canons and De-canonizing Function of Performance

Bahee Hadaegh, Milad Pashaei


This study attempts to investigate the process of canonization that Ionesco’s initial play went through by means of Martin Esslin’s famous work of theater criticism that labeled the unknown plays of the 50’s “absurd”. The present study argues that Esslin’s attempt to canonize these plays under the label of The Theater of the Absurd did not do justice to the ethical perspectives that these plays set forth. By focusing on a postmodern performance by Jean-Luc Lagarce, the study tries to elucidate how his performance of The Bald Soprano challenged the pre-judged attitude of the audience through challenging the previously established beliefs concerning the Theater of the Absurd.  The semiotics as the study of the way meaning is created will be drawn on. In The Semiotics of Theater, Erika Fischer-Lichte outlines the internal theatrical code at three different levels of system, norm, and speech. Here, the emphasis will be on speech to illuminate the staging by Lagarce and explain how a classic work precipitates postmodern production from within the established canon.  


Canonization; The Theater of the Absurd; Semiotics of Theater; Eugene Ionesco; The Bald Soprano; Jean-Luc Lagarce

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