The architectural correspondence of space and speech in tragedy

Vozani, Ariadni (2003). The architectural correspondence of space and speech in tragedy. PhD thesis The Open University.



The main motive for undertaking this thesis was the exploration of the special relation between space and word, a relation which has recently concerned architectural theory from various aspects. However it was for us important to explore this relation inside the framework of a special system, a system which allows the production of 'real' three dimensional space; drama. Our choice to deal with classical drama was based in its attributeof producing organised space in co-existence and interdependence with articulated speech. It was for us significant that we are not dealing with an internal imaginary space but with a space which is generated and materialised during performance on stage. This thesis's claim that its analysis takes its bearings from aspects of architectural theory requires clarification since it may set up in the mind of a reader from classical studies that the object of the thesisis purely architectural or relates to the physical fabric of the theatre. This is emphatically not the case. The aspect of architectural theory which we are concerned with, concerns the evolution of the analysis of space and spatial relationships. This type of analysis, which gradually achieved an almost autonomous field by the end of the twentieth century, is one which is not so much concerned with the physical or geometrical relations of space but of the experience of space as it is synthesised in the subject.

In the first of our chapters we deal with those different readings attempting a critical presentation of the existing scholarship. Obviously it is the performance and all the conventions which govern it that fully define the space of drama. It is the 'event' (of architectural theories) - as this is realised through the characters of drama that make space exist. That space cannot be equated or reduced to the space of the theatre building. It was through this perspective that in the second chapter of our thesis we were concerned to identify the role and action of the main 'subjects' (or the main participants, as we use to call them) of drama. Thus it was necessary to investigate the role of the poet, the actor and the audience, not so much in order to understand how they experience theatrical space, but in reverse, in order to explore the way they influence the production of theatrical space.

In order to understand performance, we need to confront the issues of representation in antiquity through the notion of mimesis and the possible application of the term eidolon to the theatrical space. One further target is then to reveal the importance of theatrical space as an innovative genre of space- the first representational space - the analysis of which could contribute to the understanding of the different notions of space in antiquity, especially the Platonic Khora. Those issues are confronted in the third chapter of this thesis where we argue that what we call the 'space in drama' depends upon a combination of different types of representations; representations that their referents can not be identified as they belong to the domain of myth. Thus our positive reason for using the resources of Greek philosophy to render the mechanisms of dramatic representation intelligible rests upon our wish to find material which would validate the proposition that these mechanisms were thinkable.

Clearly a central question in the investigation of theatrical space in terms of the arguments put forward above is the relationship between space and language. In the fourth and last of our chapters we attempt to investigate the nature of what we call dramatic speech and its ability to create three- dimensional space on stage, in any of its forms (dialogue, monologue,direct, indirect). Recent theories of architecture have been preoccupied with the exploration of the interrelation of architecture with different disciplines mainly with language itself.The relation of architecture with language becomes more complex in two main ways which concisely refer on the one hand to the influence the analysis of the structure of language has on the development of architectural discourse and on the other, to the influence architectural discourse has on architectural practice. We see then that recent architecture criticism is not limited to the reading of buildings and the marking off of historical periods, but contributes to the development of architecture practice itself.

The investigation of theatrical space's relation with word would have never been complete without the study of certain examples from the trilogy Oresteia. Those examples, dealt within the last part of the fourth chapter gave us the opportunity to validate our approach and enrich our conclusions concerning the issues which this thesis intended to clarify

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