Noëlle Renaude has been writing plays for 25 years now; her work is staged regularly in France, and has been translated into many languages. She is one of the most experimental and innovatory writers for the contemporary French stage. In her most recent plays, she attempts to stage the writing body and the body of writing by experimenting with the page framed on the computer screen, testing all the possibilities of what can happen within the space of the frame, and questioning what happens when the frame is transgressed, when words – and characters – disappear over the edge. By staging words untethered from characters and by drawing on the resources of a range of genres within the space of the play text – cinema, novel, poem – Renaude questions what it means to inhabit language. The plays present significant challenges to actors and directors, dispensing as they do with all the conventions of character distribution, plot and setting. It is only by getting to work on the text with the breath, the voice, the body, that the reader/actor will discover the secret diary of the writing process inscribed in the text – its moods, its tones, its breakdowns, its exultations.
On Renaude’s stage, we wander in unfamiliar landscapes and feel (again) the terror of the threshold, the in-between of sound and sense, orality and textuality. In this essay I will question whether this is theatre on the run from the new technologies, attempting to develop the stage as the last bastion of the living voice as a vehicle for creativity, or whether Renaude is in fact attempting to bring about an explosive collision of the computer screen and the space of the stage. If that is the case, what is the role of the embodied voice in this new space?