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CALL. 15.05.2018: Greek Theatre and Metatheatre: definitions, problems, limits - Basel (Switzerland)


The aim of this conference is to explore the definition(s) of theatre and metatheatre in the Greek world. Confirmed key-note speakers: Anton Bierl (University of Basel); Eric Csapo (University of Sydney)



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Basel (Basel, Switzerland)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Silvia Milanezi (University of Paris-Est Créteil); Elodie Paillard (Universities of Basel and Sydney) ; University of Basel, Swiss National Science Foundation, University of Paris-Est Créteil

INFO: programme - ;


The aim of this conference is to explore the definition(s) of theatre and metatheatre in the Greek world. The conference will take place over two days, with the first one devoted to the question of the definition of ‘theatre’, while the second will focus on ‘metatheatre’. Although in modern languages their meaning is by and large straightforward, both concepts pose a certain number of problems when applied to ancient reality. In fact, ‘theatre’ as well as ‘metatheatre’ are used in many different, sometimes-contradictory, ways by modern scholars.

Do we use ‘theatre’ to designate anything that was performed in a theatre-building? Do we include any non-dramatic entertainment in the definition as well (e.g., musical performances)? Do we exclude theatrical entertainment performed outside proper theatre venues, for example on public places or on the streets? What was particular in having dramatic entertainment performed in theatre buildings as opposed to other venues (temporary or not)? Is dramatic entertainment performed in private house still theatre? How does (or should) the definition of what is considered as theatre evolve from one period to the other, especially for times when Greek theatre is performed in a Roman environment? What changes to the definition of Greek theatre had brought the contacts with ‘Roman genres’ (e.g., pantomime, mimes)? Is recitation of dramatic pieces or excerpts still ‘theatre’?

As for ‘metatheatre’, the discussion will revolve around the interaction between reality and fiction in dramatic pieces of all genres. How and why can the borders between the two shift? The various definitions of the label ‘metatheatre’ should also be explored and explicated. Among other elements, the question of the authorial voice (both direct and indirect) in all dramatic genres will be explored. The performer’s real and fictive identity is also an important point for the definition of theatre and metatheatre: self or ‘masked’? Identity or alterity? Another question that papers could address is the distinction between paratheatre (understood as paratragedy/comedy) and metatheatre: is paratheatre a form of metatheatre?

Proceedings will be published.

Questions and abstracts (no more than half a page) should be sent before the 15th of May 2018 to: AND

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