The Theatre of Death: The Uncanny in Mimesis Tadeusz Kantor, Aby Warburg, and an Iconography of the Actor; Or, must one die to be dead.
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The aim of this thesis is to explore an heuristic analogy as proposed in its very title: how does a concept of the “uncanny in mimesis” and of the “theatre of death” give content to each other – historically and theoretically – as distinct from the one providing either a description of, or even a metaphor for, the other? Thus, while the title for this concept of theatre derives from an eponymous manifesto of Tadeusz Kantor’s, the thesis does not aim to explain what the concept might mean in this historically specific instance only. Rather, it aims to develop a comparative analysis, through the question of mimesis, allowing for different theatre artists to be related within what will be proposed as a “minor” tradition of modernist art theatre (that “of death”). This comparative enquiry – into theatre practices conceived of in terms of the relation between abstraction and empathy, in which the “model” for the actor is seen in mannequins, puppets, or effigies – is developed through such questions as the following: What difference does it make to the concept of “theatre” when thought of in terms “of death”? What thought of mimesis do the dead admit of? How has this been figured, historically, in aesthetics? How does an art of theatre participate in the anthropological history of relations between the living and the dead? In this history, how have actors been thought to represent the dead – not in the interpretation of fictional “characters” (from the dramatic canon), but in their very appearance, before an audience, as actors? How might (a minor history of) modernist theatre practice be considered in terms of an iconography of such appearances – as distinct from a question of actor training, still less as a question of written drama?
- Theses