Visualizing Theatrical and Novelistic Discourse with Bakhtin

Visualizing Theatrical and Novelistic Discourse with Bakhtin

Susan Petrilli (University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Bari, Italy)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/IJSVR.2019010102

Abstract

A constant vision in Mikhail Bakhtin's works: polyphonic dialogue, this above all in the novel, but his love for theatre should not be neglected. Consequently, a central focus in Bakhtin's reflections is the polyphonic novel which he first identifies in Dostoevsky's novels. Bakhtin establishes a close relation between the novel, popular culture and carnival, evidencing the carnival component of novelistic discourse, therefore of life. Moreover, as he recounts in his 1973 conversations with Victor Duvakin, his interest in the novel overlapped with theatre, in particular the Moscow Art Theatre. In Bakhtin and Theatre, Dick McCaw relates Bakhtin's vision of art and life to theatre as visualized by Stanislavksy, Meyerhold and Grotowski, each of whom operated a “revolution” in their own original terms comparable to the so-called “Bakhtinian revolution” in philosophy of language and literary criticism. With the difficult socio-political events of the time on the background, this essay explores important aspects of the real dialogue between these three masters of the theatre and of the ideal dialogue established between the latter and Bakhtin, thereby creating a special perspective on theatre with special reference to the Bakhtinian concepts of “polyphony” and “dramatization”. Overall are evidenced, for the quality of life, the importance of such values as dialogism, otherness, participative unindifference, creativity which also emerge as characteristics that specify the artwork, whether novelistic or theatrical, thereby showing how art and life are vitally interrelated and capable of enhancing each other.
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2. Bakhtin And Theatre, A Book By Dick Mccaw

In Bakhtin and Theatre. Dialogues with Stanislavsky, Meyerhold and Grotowski, published in 2016, the author Dick McCaw relates Bakhtin (see Figure 1) to the theatre directors, Konstantin Stanislavsky (see Figure 2), Vsevolod E. Meyerhold (1874-1940) (see Figure 3) and Jerzy Marian Grotowski (1933-1999) (see Figure 4), creating a special perspective on theatre which we will now explore.

The word “dialogues” in the subtitle of this book alludes to the dialogue that effectively took place in real life between the three masters of the theatre, Stanislavsky, Meyerhold and Grotowski. But “dialogue” can also be interpreted as alluding to the imaginary dialogue and ideal relation established between the latter and Bakhtin. McCaw relates the architectonics of Bakhtin’s thought system to theatre as visualized by these masters, with insights that are noteworthy. Stanislavsky, Meyerhold and Grotowski each operate a sort of “revolution” in their own original terms, comparable to Bakhtin’s revolution in philosophy of language and literary criticism, the “Bakhtinian revolution” (see Ponzio, 1997, 2015; Petrilli, 1996, 2012a; Petrilli & Ponzio, 2005).

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