Article Title

On Theatricality


Ke Shi


The concept of theatricality is one of the core notions of theatre studies and the theory of arts. It has been discussed and debated for a long time in Chinese and Western contexts. Drawing on the works of Wang Yuli and others, this article examines the evolution of this concept in the Western context, especially in the second half of the twentieth century. This article provides a comparative review of the definitions of theatricality from different perspectives by Josette Féral, Ragnhild Tronstad, Samuel Weber, etc., which are important but less introduced in Chinese. The most pivotal issue in the concept is the dialectical unification of semiotic methods and autonomic aesthetics. Then this article analyzes the notion in detail on four levels: first, theatricality as the categorical feature of theatre as art; second, theatricality as appeared in other art disciplines; third, theatricality as a notion in relevant humanities; fourth, theatricality as a term to describe the nature of life and society in general. Using these theoretical discussions to analyze the practical problems reflected by the theatrical-literary conflict, I argue that it is inappropriate to prescribe theatricality in literary terms.


theatricality, theatre semiology, performativity, literariness

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