The New Soundscape of Global Culture: Editorial Note

Octavian Saiu*

This special topic of Critical Stages/Scènes critiques feels genuinely . . . special, as it reflects the deep, eternal relationship between two artforms that share so much, yet remain fundamentally independent. What they share is not only an elementary reliance on sound and presence; they share the same belief in emotional communication, as an intrinsic dimension of human existence. What separates them, however, is a set of creative principles, so obviously different that they do not need any further clarification. The relation between theatre and music, therefore, is one of “intrigue and love,” of constant alliance and unbated rivalry, of mutual nourishment and radical disparity.

When this special topic was formulated, it was with such aesthetic and anthropological narratives in mind. It was meant as an invitation to explore the metamorphoses of the theatre–music dynamics, an attempt to map the present state of a relationship with such a rich, strenuous past.

In a world that continues to be called postmodern, a world that can equally be called supermodern, hypermodern, transmodern or perhaps left without any label at all, a world in which almost everything is hybrid and hardly anything pure, music and theatre are continuously redefining themselves through each other.

From a record number of submissions covering as wide a historical span as that between ancient Greek spectacle and contemporary soundscape, only the following few have been selected. They illustrate a series of perspectives from as many cultural and geographical backgrounds.

Regarded separately, they are a conglomerate of viewpoints and approaches, linked by the same thread: the theatricality of music, the musicality of theatre. Understood together, they are a valuable scrutiny of this theme at a crucial moment in time, when we realise not only how much we all long for live theatre and live music, but how essential they are to our own spiritual survival in the digital age.

This selection of critical contributions would not have looked and read as well as they do, if it was not for the sharp eye and acumen of Savas Patsalidis, the indefatigable Editor-in-Chief of this publication. My gratitude is sincere, and so is my faith in the quality and the meaning of the textual selection available here for everyone to discover and enjoy in the global public sphere. 

*Octavian Saiu, Adjunct Secretary General of IATC and President of the Romanian Section of IATC – Theatre Studies, holds a PhD in Theatre Studies and another one in Comparative Literature. He has published articles in several international journals, as well as eleven books on theatre. Actively involved in various international festivals around the world, he has chaired and given talks mainly at Edinburgh International Festival and Sibiu International Theatre Festival. He has taught, coordinated workshops and offered master classes at universities in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as the Grotowski Institute. He received the Critics’ Award in 2010, the Award of the Union of Theatre Artists (UNITER) in 2013, and was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit by the President of Romania in 2020.

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