Semiotics can provide the student of theatre with both a methodology and a vocabulary for dealing with the interrelated tasks of the director, actor, scene designer, costume designer, and lighting and sound technicians in creating a performance text from a written text. Tadeusz Kowzan offers one of the clearest statements on the direct application of semiotic principles to theatre studies. He attempts to identify and define the principal signifying systems which interact in a theatrical performance, providing a preliminary and approximate typology of some thirteen. His classification affords a useful structure within which to examine how the various visual and auditory elements of theatre interact with the text in order to recreate—however imperfectly—the experience of a single performance of José Luis Gómez's 1983 production of Calderón's Los cabellos de Absalón. Nevertheless, it is essential to bear in mind Robert Scholes' corrective with regard to extreme versions of formalist and structuralist theory: meaning is not only a matter of purely formal systems but also a function of experience. It is important to consider the possibilities and limitations of critical theory as applied to live performance, that is to say, the distinctive approaches of theatrical practitioners and academic theorists.


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pp. 225-242
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