Patrice Pavis[1]


We are all spectators. Granted! But do we know exactly what we are doing when we “watch theatre”? Is there a new, postmodern or postdramatic “spectator”? Is s/he smarter than we used to be? Is there an ideal spectator, or should we rather just enjoy the event, sit back, not thinking of anything but our own pleasure? Are we content to experience an immersive piece and to be called “witness,” “voyeur,” “participant observer,” “participant,” or “accomplice”?

These are a few questions which Critical Stages did not ask the authors of this Special Topics section, but which they have nevertheless answered, each of them from a different perspective.
At a time when the spectator has become an object of our concern and inquiry around the world, let us hope that Critical Stages can offer an initial orientation and incite all of us to rethink the position of the spectator. For better or worse.

[1] Patrice Pavis was professor of theatre studies at the University of Paris (1976-2007) and the University of Kent at Canterbury. Educated in the Ecole normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud (1968-1972), where he studied German and French literature, he has published a Dictionary of theatre (translated into thirty languages), and books on Performance analysis, Contemporary French dramatists and Contemporary mise-en-scène. He is an Honorary Fellow at the University of London (Queen Mary) and Honoris Causa Doctor at the University of Bratislava. His most recent publication is La Mise en scène contemporaine, Armand Colin, 2007; English translation by Routledge, 2012. In 2011-2012, he is a visiting professor at the Korea National University of the Arts, Seoul.

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