Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Mary Noonan
ADEFFI (irish Association of French Studies) Annual Conference
Dramatic/Post-Dramatic: Contemporary French Theatre in the Light of Beckett and Duras
College des Irlandais, Paris
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields

Samuel Beckett admired the dramatic writing of Marguerite Duras; that much is known.

He was clear too about his own purpose as a playwright: to find a form of speech that would be ‘specifically dramatic’, to create works that would be of the stage, writing that would be made in response to – as a function of – the bodily and spatial conditions of theatre. Throughout his life he resisted requests for stage adaptations of the fiction, or film versions of the plays. And yet, the evidence of the later plays suggests that he was, at the very least, testing the limits of the genre, housing a liminal self in bodies and in spaces that were increasingly difficult of access for actors and spectators.

The sub-title of Marguerite Duras’s play India Song is ‘Texte, théâtre, film’. Throughout her career as a writer and film-maker, she made works that sought to erase generic boundaries, pieces of narrative that would function in a range of media, characters appearing and re-appearing in different settings. What does it mean, therefore, to talk about Marguerite Duras’s theatre? Can we place Beckett at the limit of the dramatic, the last great European writer for the stage? It certainly seems that the new generation of playwrights in France is taking the direction indicated by Duras, eschewing the need for writing that would be specifically or even discernibly ‘dramatic’.

Taking the late theatres of Beckett and Duras as emblematic, this paper will seek to determine the meanings of the dramatic on the contemporary French stage.