An archaeology of soundscapes: The theatre of Noëlle Renaude

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Noonan, Mary
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Taylor & Francis
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In this essay, I will consider French writer Noëlle Renaude's development as a playwright, from The Northern Fox (1988), in which she blends different styles and linguistic registers, to her most recent plays, where she has abandoned virtually all the theatrical conventions and where she enacts a radical experimentation with the movement of words within the frame of the page/stage. In the plays written between 2004 and 2008, Renaude explores the relationship between language and space, between textuality and orality. In the space of memory that is evoked, all the dead voices are summoned out of the earth—excavated—in order to animate a geographical space. The playscripts present themselves as maps to be decoded—words are untethered from syntax and move about the page in unfamiliar patterns, telling stories of characters wandering in a landscape, getting lost, sometimes disappearing. These texts call for, and nurture, new ways of reading and performing plays: we must survey the page/stage, measure distances between words, decode symbols, chart proliferating patterns. We must become cartographers—the mathematical precision of the mapmaker is very much what is required if we are to navigate our way into, and out of, these pages. Using eye and ear, we plot our route through a terrain where the old signposts are no longer of any use.
Noëlle Renaude , Playwriting , Soundscape , Orality , Textuality , Body
Noonan, M. (2010) 'An archaeology of soundscapes: The theatre of Noëlle Renaude', Studies in Theatre and Performance, 30(1), pp. 115-125. doi: 10.1386/stap.30.1.115/1
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