Malséance : la mort et l'image dans le (méta)théâtre de Samuel Beckett et de Jean Genet
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Both ludic and macabre, the theatrical works of Samuel Beckett and Jean Genet are a paradox to behold. Indeed, as this thesis seeks to illustrate, despite their vastly differing aesthetics, at the core of each playwright’s stage productions is a tension between the characters’ yearning for silence and invisibility, and the continual creation of an often humorous, chaotic, exaggerated or theatrical image that depicts this very longing. Seeking an impossible intersection between their image and their death, they are trapped in a double bind that guarantees aesthetic failure. In order to grasp the close, yet delicate, relationship between the image of death and the death of the image, as presented in the plays of Beckett and Genet, we will explore how the characters’ creative processes deflate the very images — both visual and auditory — that they create. More specifically, we will examine how mimesis both liberates and confines the characters; while the symbolic realm provides the only means of self-representation, it is also a source of profound alienation and powerlessness, for it never adequately conveys meaning. Thus, body, gesture, language and voice are each the site of simultaneous and ceaseless reappearance and disappearance, for which death remains the only (aporetic) cure. Struggling against theatrical form, which demands the actors’ and the audience’s physical presence, both playwrights make shrewd use of metatheatre to slowly empty the stage and thereby suggest the impending, yet impossible, erasure of their characters.