The Art of Theatre in Nineteenth-Century America: George L. Fox, Pantomime and Artaud.
Literature Compass, 7
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2010.00746.x
This article argues that, through specific stagings orchestrated in the pantomimist’s art, George Lafayette Fox demonstrates a consciousness of staging and of theatricality that presages the blatant theatricalities of twentieth-century theatre and theatre theory. The Theatre and Its Double is essential to assessing theatre’s response to theatricality, specifically in its awareness of non-verbal strategies. My discussion of pantomime founds itself on a critical engagement with the concept of a total theatre, of gestures, physicality, movement and the performance of a theatrical ‘language’ beyond words. I argue that the theatrical language of Fox’s pantomime exhibits dramatic dimensions that appealed to the edgy rebellious urges of their audiences, the performances of the white-face clown articulating an awareness of cultural anxieties, responding to and participating in the formation of the social response to political agenda and debate. Pantomime, with its glory in excess, its incipient display of anti-establishmentarianism, its fluidity and emphasis on show, contributed to the development of American theatre as a dynamic form. Providing a concrete space with its ‘concrete language, intended for the senses and independent of speech,’ (Artaud, p.37), Fox’s gestural theatre can shed additional light on theoretical approaches to mime.
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