Despite the many publications discussing Gao Xingjian's theatre, his engagement with tragedy in the 1990 play Escape [Taowang] has not generated a substantial critical enquiry. Departing from the concept of "infra-tragedy," briefly used by Izabella Łabędzka in Gao Xingjian's Idea of Theatre to categorize Gao's pre- and post-exile plays, this paper will investigate the relationship between Gao's notion of "tragic modernity" and its concrete dramatization, thereby embracing Hans-Thies Lehmann's proposition in Tragedy and Dramatic Theatre that "no tragic experience can exist without theatrical experience." By expanding on Gao's remarks on tragedy and his stage directions in Escape, and by engaging contemporary reconceptualizations of tragedy–both as a field of simultaneously cohesive and divisive forces (William Storm, After Dionysus) and as a religious communitarian experience (Georges Bataille, "Nietzschean Chronicle")–this article demonstrates that Escape can be categorized as a metatragedy in post-classical form, possibly one of a vast multiplicity of forms of "postdramatic tragedy" in Lehmann's terms and certainly a most idiosyncratic one.


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pp. 567-584
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