Beyond borders: David Greig's transpersonal dramaturgy

Book chapter

Thompson, C. 2011. Beyond borders: David Greig's transpersonal dramaturgy. in: Muller, A. and Wallace, C. (ed.) Cosmotopia: transnational identities in David Greig's theatre Litteraria Pragensia. pp. 103-117
Chapter titleBeyond borders: David Greig's transpersonal dramaturgy
AuthorsThompson, C.

David Greig’s transgressive dramaturgies articulate, I suggest, a refusal to privilege a single discourse; in unfixing the audience’s traditional positionality, he opens up something beyond, a space where new apprehensions of those frequently considered Other, may be possible. In working to unfix and blur boundaries of spatiality, temporality and individuality, Greig’s dramaturgies refuse to authorise appropriation; refuse to claim imagined others as fixable, ‘known’ or ‘knowable’. Simultaneously, resonances extend across his transient spatialities and temporalities, opening up a transpersonal space, even he undermines any tendency to speak ‘of’ or ‘for’ Others. I relate this to Luce Irigaray’s claim that a potential meeting with the Other may only lie in “a Threshold between two worlds” (2006, p.43); in highlighting the existence of unknown and possibly unknowable Others, while insisting on transpersonal resonances extending time and space, I suggest Greig articulates the potential for such a threshold or meeting-point.
Here I interrogate specific formal strategies in terms of how they are likely to affect the ways in which an audience can engage with Greig's work. Greig’s dramaturgies, I suggest, undermine individualist engagements (referring to Murray Smith’s useful theory of audience engagement to film). In transgressing traditional dramaturgical parameters, the work may be seen to encourage plural and shifting engagements with multiple and merging characters, thereby dissolving boundaries of ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender and class, and opening up space for transnational encounters, beyond specificity.
With examples from work as diverse as Mainstream, Casanova (both with Suspect Culture), The Cosmonaut’s Last Message..., The Architect, Europe, and San Diego, among others, I discuss recurring transgressive strategies which thread through Greig’s work. Such dramaturgies open up transnational encounters within the theatre-texts, but in destabilising audience positionality, also open up space for new, transnational empathic encounters with imagined others. I discuss the physical doublings and other imagistic, linguistic, behavioural and dynamic echoes that thread through Greig’s plays, as well as his fragmentation of traditional character ‘wholeness’ through opening up disjunctions between character subjectivity and behaviour. A certain fleetness within and between scenes, characters, temporalities and spatialities further enables Greig’s plural discourse (related to Barthes’ ‘plural’ text, 1975).
In the patterning of his temporal roamings, fragmenting identities, physical and spatial pairings and linguistic echoes then, Greig may be seen to open up a transnational threshold. The gaps, echoes and links embedded in his dramaturgies connect disparate locations, time zones and seemingly ‘different’ (Other) characters, and open a chink in the discourse of traditional dramaturgy. In doing so Greig’s work suggests a new way of constructing our relationship with others, both those imagined others within dramaturgies, and ‘real-world’ others. Here imagined Others are not denied, nor are they appropriated: we are, Greig seems to suggest, undeniably related as well as disjunct from the global community.
(author's abstract)

Research GroupTheatre Arts group
Page range103-117
Book titleCosmotopia: transnational identities in David Greig's theatre
EditorsMuller, A. and Wallace, C.
PublisherLitteraria Pragensia
Publication dates
Publication process dates
Deposited14 Aug 2013
Output statusPublished
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