Xuefeng Zhu


The stage design of traditional European and American theatre belongs to the “visual field,” while the perceptual revolution of contemporary scenography aims to break the visual dominance and devise multi-sensory experiences. Behind the traditional scenography dominated mostly by vision and secondly by hearing is the perceptual hierarchy of Western civilization, hammered in especially by rationalism in modern times. Since the 1990s, however, contemporary theatre has turned to touch, smell and taste to provide embodied experiences that are inaccessible through virtual media such as film, television and the Internet. Considering the recent revival of “lower senses,” this article focuses on the perceiving body’s sensory experiences of touch, smell, taste and synaesthesia in contemporary theatre environments. Exploring tactile/haptic experiences from human touch to post-human touch, relating olfactory experiences to emotion, memory and urban smellscape, staging gustatory experiences through taste, cooking and rasaesthetics, and devising synaesthetic experiences to understand (syn)aestheticsand the “weather world,” contemporary theatre has effectively appealed to “lower senses” in both theory and practice through its expanded multi-sensory scenography.


scenography, touch, smell, taste, synaesthesia

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