A Semiotic Study Of The
"New" Theatre In
From Alfred Jarry To Antonin Artaud (1896-1938)
Clare Jackson Tufts
Source: DAI, 43, no. 08A, (1982): 2693
The plays under consideration in this dissertation are Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, Guillaume Apollinaire's Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Tristan Tzara's La Premiere adventure celeste de M. Antipyrine, Georges-Ribemont-Dessaignes' Le Serin muet, and Andre Breton's and Philippe Soupault's S'il vous pla(')it. Although these authors have long been called precursors of the playwrights of the post-1950 "new" French theatre, their influence has never been thoroughly analyzed because their works have been approached only from the historical perspective.
This study attempts to determine the exact nature of that influence through analysis of the various sign systems present in the dramatic text and the dramatic performance (speech, tone of voice, facial expression, gesture, movement, make-up, hair style, costume, properties, decor, lighting, music, and sound effects), and their interaction. In our examination of the signs' functions, which elucidates the goals of the authors, we use the basic terminology of the American semiotician Charles S. Peirce: icon, index, and symbol. We consider the referential function of each sign, or what it denotes, and its figurative function, or its possible connotations. The performance in question is the first performance of each play under the direction of the author, and the "recreation" of those performances is based on a variety of documents including contemporary press reviews, programs, photographs, letters, manifestoes, and general statements of principle made by the authors.
Chapter I contains the analysis of Ubu Roi (1896); Les Mamelles de Tiresias (1917) is the subject of Chapter II; and the last three plays, all presented during a dadaist soiree in 1920, are studied in Chapter III. In conclusion we consider the problem of interpretation in this theatre and the insights Antonin Artaud had into this problem. The authors succeeded in provoking their audiences, but their works failed momentarily to bring about significant modifications of the conventions of the genre because of those audiences' inability to decode the dramatic experience.
Descriptor: LITERATURE, ROMANCE
Accession No: AAG8229426