The Play within the Play – Le Théâtre dans le Théâtre – Spiel im Spiel
The Sydney Symposium 2004
The Sydney Symposium 2004 will be devoted to an exploration of "The Play within the Play". It is planned as an international, intercultural and interdisciplinary scholarly forum. The main aim of the conference is to present a comprehensive account of the peculiar structural and thematic features of this theatrical motive, or convention, to analyze the theoretical dimensions of the pPlay within the Play (including related issues and questions in anthropology, philosophy, psychology), and to provide a comparative basis for discussion of this literary/theatrical phenomenon on an international scale. The participants of the Symposium will essentially be scholars specialising in the comparative study of drama and theatre, specialists in performance studies, as well as cultural theorists, anthropologists and/or sociologists with an interest in questions related to representation, play and performance as rehearsed social action, the relationship between role, identity and play, etc.
The Play within the Play can be briefly characterized as a strategy of constructing play texts that contain, within the perimeter of their fictional reality, a second or internal theatrical performance, in which actors appear as actors who play yet another role. Souch doubling of the theatrical reality is often re-inforced by providing an "internal audience" which acts as a double to the actual audience. In analogy to the terminology employed in theories of narrativity, the terms "frame play" or "outer play" (Rahmenstück, pièce cadre) and "interior" or "internal play" (Binnenstück, pièce intérieure) have been used to describe to two components of the play within the play. Its most characteristic feature is that it doubles an aesthetic experience which already presents a double reality: the actor, who appears on stage both in his physical presence and in the part he or she portrays, assumes and plays yet another role, thus adding a third identity which itself is constructed in the context of a third level of time, space, character and action.
This semantic correlation of play, acting and performing (for example in English "play" and German "Spiel") comes as no surprise. Both playing and performing are closely related inasmuch as both seem to be anthropological constants involving acts of symbolic mimesis and representation; both are activities that are essentially and characteristically human. It is the proximity to play and to playing that makes the theatre such a universal cultural phenomenon which indeed appears common to all of humanity throughout the ages. It is thus assumed that a convention like The Play within the Play, or something similar to it, may exist in perhaps all dramatic literatures, and we are particularly interested in exploring examples outside the established canon of Western, European Theatre.
Modern Language Studies
University of New South Wales
Sydney 2052 Australia
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)