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Time on the Stage

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Time on the Stage - in its most pedestrian sense, the interval between an actor's entrance and exit - has also had a long history as a metaphor for an individual human life. More broadly, the theatre's imaginative conflation with the world at large, a notion of the "theatre of the world," was prevalent to the point of cliché from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century. Apart from well-worn analogy, does the detached time/space of performance have any salient relationship with quotidian experience? This study engages two moments in Western theatre history, Greece in the seventh to the fifth centuries B.C.E. when theatre first appeared, and the Middle Ages, when it reappeared in the practices of the Catholic Church after several centuries of ostensible absence. The analysis suggests that theatrical praxis emerges in response to psychic needs engendered by profound changes in notions of time and space and that performance itself, is ultimately a chronotopic technology which is mensural in nature. In the historicized stage setting and in the temporally coded body of the actor, time is found to be very much on the stage.


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