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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines a fundamental formal and phenomenological dimension to theatrical experience—time—and notes that the essence of theatre is ‘now you see it, now you don’t’. Building on the foundational work of Antonin Artaud, the chapter rethinks the problem of theatrical occasionality and argues that the temporal unit favoured by Performance Studies—the presentness of the ‘now’— must be abandoned in favour of an alternative idea of temporality that is at once as old as Parmenides and Zeno and as new as Albert Einstein and string theory. It considers the character of Time in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale as a singular and strange choric figure, granting us a metaphysical view of time and of life beyond what we know from our mundane, earthly, individual human existences. It argues that The Winter’s Tale amounts to nothing less than a theatrical experiment in the nature of time itself as at once a perceived, represented, and actualized series of events.

Keywords: time, theatre, Antonin Artaud, theatrical occasionality, Performance Studies, temporality, William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, life

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