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Scenographic screen space: bearing witness and performing resistance

posted on 2023-05-22, 16:56 authored by Hannah, D
In her 1987 essay 'The Place of Crime the Place of Pardon', French philosopher and playwright Helene Cixous wrote:

In truth we go as little to the theatre as to our heart and what we feel the lack of is going to the heart, our own and that of things. We live exterior to ourselves in a world whose walls are replaced by television screens, which has lost its thickness, its depths, its treasures, and we take the newspaper columns for our thoughts. We are printed daily. We lack even walls, true walls upon which divine messages are written. We lack earth and flesh. (1995: 341).
Although Cixous maintained that our mediated existence was diminishing lived space to a point where we lack the material communality critical for confronting the horrors of this world, she posited the theatre as a place for remedying such etiolation via the substance of earth (stage), flesh (bodies) and true walls (architecture): a site in which to gather and, through storytelling, mutually contact the compassion required to acknowledge, forgive and actively move forward. Three decades on, live performance is still capable of providing a restorative site for re-enacting traumatic events that continue to be played out on the world stage through global media. However, newspaper columns have been replaced by the increasingly perfected thinness of glowing screens - in our hands, on our desks and in the built environment - and theatre has generally left the building; not only challenging screen space but reconfiguring performance space itself as a dispersed multiplicity.


Publication title

Scenography Expanded


J McKinney and S Palmer






School of Creative Arts and Media



Place of publication

United Kingdom



Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Joslin McKinney, Scott Palmer and contributors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

The creative arts

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