The term “metatheatre” now so casually bandied about, and sometimes with little acknowledgement of its origins, was first coined by Lionel Abel in “Metatheatre” is a convenient name for the quality or force in a play which These remarks by Lionel Abel seek to establish “metatheatre” as a dramatic. Julian Markels; Lionel Abel: Metatheatre, Shakespeare Quarterly, Volume 15, Issue 4, 1 October , Pages –,

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It not only contained this mechanism– given free rein by letting the other actors in the play think Hamlet was mad, leaving Hamlet to essentially do what he liked– but was also metaphorized by the play-within-a-play Hamlet stages to uncover the treachery of his stepfather. The phrase “breaking the fourth wall” is used to describe such effects in those media.

The primary critical attraction of this collection lies in moments scattered amongst the main tragedy-versus-metatheatre argument. Greek meta-beside, after. Therefore, if one proceeds in accordance with this wider approach and substitutes the aesthetic for the poetic function, the result is the following chart of artistic—not only linguistic—functions:. It behooves me, therefore, to briefly consider Abel’s legacy in light of current scholarship, reflecting back across the intervening four decades.

Darstellung presentationAusdruck expressionand Appell appeal. I recommend it to readers who are deeply interested in both theater and philosophies of life. Abel’s persistent focus on the generic contrast of tragedy with metatheatre as historically sequential and mutually exclusive limits the potential influence of the book in two ways. Unlike most works of theatrical criticism– I’m not a big stage fan, so I find most of it way above my head– Abel’s little work is readable, understandable, and finishable by the average joe on the street with more than an eighth-grade education.

Abel’s basic premise is that “tragedy is difficult if not altogether impossible for the modern dramatist. For how could any theatre not know, somehow, and show that it knows, somehow, what it means to be theatre” Then, when he returns to literary studies inhe is convinced of the existence of an empirical criterion that demonstrates the existence of the poetic function.


In fact, “it is almost impossible for theatre not to become metatheatre. I did enact Julius Caesar. In this sense, the “fourth wall” is a convention of actingrather than of set design. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. Please try again later.

Such plays have truth in them, not because they convince us of real occurrences or existing persons, but because they show the reality of the dramatic imagination, instanced by the playwright’s and also by that of his characters. It may, on the other hand, break the frame of the “fourth wall” of conventional theatre, reaching out to assault the audience or to draw it into the abl of the play. Now, from a certain point of view, only that life agel has acknowledged its inherent theatricality can be made interesting on the stage.

Indeed, to insiders the very word ‘metatheatre’, coined by Lionel Abel, has become as familiar as the plays the author uses to exemplify his theory.


Learn more about Amazon Prime. This is something that goes well beyond the limits of the present essay. Since “pseudo-tragedy” is a mouthful and Abel is a contemporary of those critics whose life’s work, it would seem, meatheatre to add “meta-” to everything, Abel decided to call this new kind of drama “metatheatre.

Of such plays, it may be said: Essays on Dramatic Form. The device of the play within a play, so important in the Baroque, is present in works such as Hamlet or Life is a Dreamyet Abel indicates that the concept of metatheatre goes beyond the use of this specific device:.

Metatheatre – Wikipedia

These remarks by Lionel Abel seek to establish “metatheatre” as a dramatic category or kind. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Ann Arbor, Ardis, English Choose a language for shopping.

This act of drawing attention to a play’s performance conventions is metatheatrical. If you liionel a jetatheatre for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Through the reissue of this historical artifact, Abel’s conception of metatheatre is restored to our collective attention with an invitation to assess its continuing impact. From inside the book. Contact Contact Us Help. From liobel same modern view, events, when interesting, will have the quality of having been thought, rather than of having simply occurred.


In early modern English theatrecharacters often adopt a downstage position in close contact with the audience and comment on the actions of others sarcastically or critically, while the other actors assume the convention that the first remains unheard and unseen while so doing. The goal of his system of acting is, precisely, the correction of this anomalous situation.

A fine little achievement that I hope is still in print.

Metatheatre; a new view of dramatic form

It may present action so alien, improbable, stylized, or absurd that we are forced to acknowledge the estranging frame that encloses a whole play. Amazon Inspire Digital Educational Resources. According to Lionel Abel, classic tragedy died with Macbeth, and a new kind of pseudo-tragedy rose with Hamlet. Having extensively surveyed the literature of metatheatrical theory and criticism for my dissertation, I am inclined to agree with this assessment.

The device of the play within a play, so important in the Baroque, is present in works such as Hamlet or Life is a Dreamyet Abel indicates that the concept of metatheatre goes beyond the use of this specific device: Learn more abep Amazon Giveaway. Views Read Edit View history.

Tragedy and Metatheatre aims “to reconnect metatheatre to its originator and thus to use Abel’s work as a point of departure for lioenl the term metatheatre as a powerful tool for understanding the history of theatre” 1.

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