M. Heidegger and language concealment in postmodern theatre

  • Lina Klusaitė
Keywords: Martin Heidegger, phenomenology, postmodern theatre, nonrepresentational language


The aim of the article is to reveal that Heidegger’s philosophy established the conception ofnonrepresentational language, which is close to No theatre and the postmodern scene where dialogue as such disappears. Rejecting the traditional concept of Logos, Heidegger conceptualizes the language from the perspective of oriental indeterminateness. As No theatre gesture does not match with referential reality, language does not match with a natural expression and thus it primarily opens what it is said. It is such a poetic language which not having a clear speaking but only “contours sketching utterance” is expressed by the openness for the world, at the same time leaving some space for silentness. This particular moment of openness enabled Gerald Bruns to compare Heidegger’s language conception with Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance. Unlike the latter, Heidegger’s différance refers not to an empty space but to another dimension of existence where consciousness, language and meaning veil. Their place is taken by sound, rhythm, tonality, voices and vibrations that do not require understanding – all the things that are dissociated from a specific signification and manifest the being itself. From this point of view, Heidegger’s conception of language is compared with such postmodern theatre which manifests itself as a poetic message. What is being said here is understood as what is revealed (reality) and what veils (signification), and that is no longer a referential meaning of dramaturgical text “grasped” by understanding. In this type of theatre, language is free from rational logic explanations and is usually created lively on the scene, allowing it to flow freely, following its very course, emphasizing the transcendent birth of language or its negative sides – boredom, emptiness, inability to express the meaning, impossibility of significance. Naming Antonin Ataud’s theatre of cruelty as the predecessor of such an expression, theatre critics’ discussions about reality in modern and postmodern theatre that rose in the context of Jacque Derrida’s criticism of metaphysical Western tradition have been presented. It is argued that postmodern performances do not seek for reality but they create it through the energetic interactions of objects and performers. As examples of such an expression in the Lithuanian theatre, Eimuntas Nekrošius’s productions “Genesis. Donelaitis. The Seasons”, “Song of Songs” and also performances of Edmundas Leonavičius, Skaidra Jančaitė, Benas Šarka have been analysed.