ELAM, KEIR. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. London and New York,. Metheun, pages. Now and then a book comes out which opens a new . : The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama (New Accents) ( ): Keir Elam: Books. KEIR ELAM. The Semiotics o/Theatre and Drama. London and New York: Methuen. In a previous article published in (Sub-stance, 18/19), Keir Elam.

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London and New York: One of the chief handicaps was the confusion between vrama and performance that was often perpetuated by researchers in the field.

Elam tries to avoid this confusion right from the beginning of his book by positing the two distinct notions of “theatre” and “drama,” “Drama” refers to that “mode of fiction designed for stage representation and constructed according to particular dramatic conventions” p. Elam’s entire book is based on dlam fundamental theoretical difference; its two srama axes according to the amount ofspace and importance assigned to them are: Between the two is a chapteron dramatic logic ch.

The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama

From the brief historical overview in his first two chapters. J that semiotics has long been in search of a minimal theatrical unity patterned after the semmiotics model, which it would bave liked to define as the theatrical sign.

In fact, all such attempts have so far proved inadequate. Book Reviews 2 that if it is possible to envisage a theatrical semiotics, it is most certainly by examining the signifying systems, systems of signs and codes which make any aemiotics a coherent whole and assure communication between the audience and the perfonners.


Elam devotes considerable space to this second point in his third chapter, no longer dealing with the theatrical sign, but tackling the much broader issue of theatrical communication. Is there such a thing?

And if so, how does it take place?

These are the two essential questions which have occupied a whole school of semioticians who following the work of Birdwhistell. Theatrf also attempts to provide a model, based on Umberto EcO’5 communications model in A Theory of Semiotics, which can be applied to the theatre pp. Once again it becomes clear that it is absolutely necessary for the theatre to be continually evolving.

Nor can it be made to repeat itself in order for us to understand its subtleties and structures more easily. From what he has defined as “dramatic and theatrical sub-codes” the same distinction he had made at the beginning of the book.

The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama by Keir Elam

Elam draws up an impressive chart of all of the possible levels on which a play may be understood: The advantage of this table is that it shows us the extremely complex networks which a simple perfonnance sets up in the theatre. The theatrical event is constantly shifting and changing, and for anyone who tries to comprehend it in its totality, it turns out to be the crossing-point of multiple systems, codes, and signs, all impossible to isolate, continually influenced by various factors, originating both within and beyond the petfonnance.


It is a mechanism which can be grasped only while it is in motion, and falls apart as soon as it stops.

Elam next turns his attention to the dramatic text, as indicated If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click ‘Authenticate’. View freely available titles: Book titles OR Journal titles.

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The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama – Keir Elam – Google Books

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