2009 : Bakhtin and Web : 1. Carnival and 2. Dialogue -- web2.0

web.vtheatre.net -- updates in Webman's diary?

filmplus.org/vtheatre/2009 -- virtual theatre pages.

pomo.vtheatre.net --

filmplus.org/600 2007 - visual glossary

stagematrix.com 2008


anatolant Web-Theatre : director2007

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... BAKHTIN sum

anatoly.vtheatre.net/theory [ old page ]

Rabelais and his world,/a> By Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich Bakhtin [my books.google.com] ***

* amazon.com *

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + american age + space + time + chronotope + direct + event theory + present + sex + past + marxism + shows +
* bakhtin.ru (new)

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text LINKS

I call them "Hard Drive Theatre Files" -- the texts, which came straight from my laptop.

See 12Night directory for Bakhtin's applications to Shakespeare's comedy.


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Webmaster? Help me with the site!

Theatre Theory

2007 Directing class -- google.com/group/directing

[ I had no time to format or comment on the text! The style is even more conversational than my writing! ]

... Other Bakhtin's pages are gone with Netcolony! Read what's left.

There are many references to Bakhtin in "The Book of Spectator"

Several most useful concepts for classes: dialogism and polyphonic principle, carnival theory, genres...

* NEW: goto.txt : AFTER 2009 : LUL pages : teatr.us Go.dot 2006 * * 100 years since Sam Beckett's birth * flickr.com/groups/stage * 2007 : the art of theatre [flickr] * 2008 : Stoppard *

new: 2003 *



Bakhtin Russian
The Possessed 2003
... heteroglossia and hyper-text
* script.vtheatre.net/themes/bakhtin.ru


Theatre Books Master-Page *

2007 dramaturgy room : anatolay.vtheatre.net/dramaturg

Dialogism and Semantic web

bakhtin[W] -- and my pages in Russian?

Lotman and Formalism [ pages ]

W :

Toward a Philosophy of the Act:
Toward a Philosophy of the Act was first published in Russia in 1986 with the title K filosofii postupka. The manuscript of this early work was found in bad condition with pages missing and sections of text that were illegible. It is for this reason that this philosophical essay appears today as a fragment of an unfinished work. Toward a Philosophy of the Act comprises only an introduction, of which the first few pages are missing, and part one of the full text. However, Bakhtin’s intentions for the work were not altogether lost, for he provided an outline in the introduction in which he stated that the essay was to contain four parts.[11] The first part of the essay deals with the analysis of the performed acts or deeds that comprise the actual world; “the world actually experienced, and not the merely thinkable world.” For the three subsequent and unfinished parts of Toward a Philosophy of the Act Bakhtin states the topics he intends to discuss. He outlines that the second part will deal with aesthetic activity and the ethics of artistic creation; the third with the ethics of politics; and the fourth with religion.[12]

Toward a Philosophy of the Act is one of Bakhtin’s early works concerning ethics and aesthetics and it is here that Bakhtin lays out three claims regarding the acknowledgment of the uniqueness of one’s participation in Being:

1. I both actively and passively participate in Being.
2. My uniqueness is given but it simultaneously exists only to the degree to which I actualize this uniqueness (in other words, it is in the performed act and deed that has yet to be achieved).
3. Because I am actual and irreplaceable I must actualize my uniqueness.

Bakhtin further states: “It is in relation to the whole actual unity that my unique ought arises from my unique place in Being”.[13] Bakhtin deals with the concept of morality whereby he attributes the predominating legalistic notion of morality to human moral action. According to Bakhtin, the I cannot maintain neutrality toward moral and ethical demands which manifest themselves as one’s voice of consciousness.[14]

It is here also that Bakhtin introduces an architectonic model of the human psyche which consists of three components: “I-for-myself”, “I-for-the-other”, and “other-for-me”. The I-for-myself is an unreliable source of identity, and Bakhtin argues that it is the I-for-the-other through which human beings develop a sense of identity because it serves as an amalgamation of the way in which others view me. Conversely, other-for-me describes the way in which others incorporate my perceptions of them into their own identities. Identity, as Bakhtin describes it here, does not belong merely to the individual, rather it is shared by all.[15]


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Bakhtin - Script Analysis
BAKHTIN, Mikhail, (1895-1975) Russian linguist and critic who revolutionised de Saussure's linguistics inspiring Valentin Volosinov and Roman Jakobson. He was educated at Petersburg University and worked at Leningrad's Historical Institute (1924), before teaching at the Mordovian Pedagogical Institute (1936) at Saransk, where he was made Head of the department of Russian and World Literature when the institute was made a University in 1957. Bakhtin retired in 1961. He was author of The Dialogical Imagination, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, Rabelais and His World, Speech Genres and Other Late Essays

Bakhtin Page

"Why do we remember the past
but not the future?
" -- Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, Ch. 9, "The Arrow of Time"

Sorry, for this messy page. Anatoly. I use Bakhtin's theories in my classes, but I have only this page for references to his works. For example, many references to chronotope -- The chronotope (from chronos, time, and topos, space) is a mathematical term used in relation to Einstein's theory of relativity, which redescribed time not as the objective absolute of Newtonian physics, but rather as subjective, changeable, multiple, and dependent on the position of the observer.

Unfortunately, Bakhtin's theories are not developed in theatre, which operates with dramatic language. NTL, this drama language is also dialogical, heteroglossic, multivoiced, intertextual, and intonated with the usages of the ordinary and the everyday. In my opinion, the literary langauge is a shadow of dramatic language.

Alas, I have many reservations about Bakhtin's ideas; in my view many of them are marxist takes on old christian ideas, known before as theology.

This prize-winning article is taken from THEATRE RESEARCH IN CANADA/ RECHERCHES TH. TRALES AU CANADA, Vol 15, No. 2 (Fall 1994), pp 136-63 and may be found in its full form there. (In its electronic incarnation, here, the article lacks its "NOTES" section -- due to this 'Web' editor's inability to handle endnote numbering within a HTML text.) The rewards of reading this article in its original, published, format will quickly become obvious to all who take the trouble of chasing it down on their library shelves. Such rewards can be brought to your very door through joining The Association for Canadian Theatre Research (and receiving TRIC as part of your membership) or by subscribing to TRIC, [for $22 Canadian], Graduate Centre for Study of Drama, University of Toronto, 214 College St 3rd Floor, Toronto, Canada M5T 2Z9.




Michael Sidnell has drawn attention to the potential for dramatic monologue to be dialogic in ways that dialogue in the theatre rarely is, and he has pointed to a recent proliferation of dialogic monologue in Canadian theatre. This essay will examine the potentially dialogic function of monologue in some contemporary Canadian plays. Questions central to this examination will be: when is monologue dialogic, and what are the effects of dialogic monologue?

Considering that the actor often stands indexically for an autonomous subject which is easily conflated with the character the actor is playing, we are interested in looking at how the dialogism of the character's monologue might destabilize subjectivity. Looking at monologues from a range of contemporary Canadian scripts and performances, we will consider how the dialogic configuration of subjectivity affects gender, race, and sexuality. And considering that dialogism may be (as Helene Keyssar has argued it was for Bakhtin) "key to the deprivileging of absolute, authoritarian discourses," we are interested in what specific "authoritarian discourses" contemporary Canadian dialogic monologue deprivileges.

Ric: Dialogic Monologue;
Jen: Or, the Mikhail Bakhtin lectures.
Ric: Every time I give an academic paper, a little voice inside me says--
Jen: "You're a fraud."
Ric: "Get off the stage."
Jen: (That's an intertext--very dialogic--from Ken Garnhum's Pants on Fire. Also Surrounded by Water. And from Geoffrey and Jeffrey's Get off the Stage).
Ric: But I continue anyway.

Jen: Dialogism, in its simplest formulation, involves intertext at its most profound--the creation of a textual space in which a variety of voices, styles, languages, or "speech genres"--

Ric: --Todorov's translator calls them "discursive genres"-

Jen: --contest with one another on equal terms, with no single voice dominating. No voice gains authority by being--

Ric: I've got a right to talk too. They only seem--

Jen: --more articulate, more intelligent, more erudite.

Ric: "Erudite."

Jen: As Bakhtin describes it in his discussion of Dostoevsky's

"polyphonic novel," a dialogic text consists of "a plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses, a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices" (Problems 6).

Ric: If they can engage in that sort academic obfuscation--

Jen: --double talk--very dialogic--

Ric: --they can listen to me for half an hour. But the voice never shuts up. I've internalized the judgement

Jen: --voices--

Ric: --I'm anticipating. "Fraud."

Jen: Double talk.

Ric: Very dialogic.

Jen: In 1993, at meetings of the Association for Canadian Theatre Research in Ottawa, Michael Sidnell drew attention to the potential for dramatic monologue to be dialogic in ways that dialogue in the theatre rarely is, and he pointed to a recent proliferation of dialogic monologue in Canadian theatre.

Ric: (Though his observation, like much of our dialogue, is largely Toronto-centric.)

Jen: This paper will examine the potentially dialogic function of monologue in some contemporary Canadian plays, and will ask: when is monologue dialogic? and what are the--

Ric: --political--

Jen: --effects of dialogic monologue?

Ric: According to Bakhtin's "sociolinguistics," all "utterances," as he calls the basic units of communication, which can range from a single non-verbal sound or gesture to a full- length novel, are made up of a heteroglot polyphony of languages drawn from a variety of "speech genres"--social, professional, and cultural communication systems, formal and informal--made unique by the historical/contextual moment of the utterance, which takes place in the historical body of an individual subject in response to and in anticipation of other utterances by other, real or imagined, but in any case specific communicating subjects. (Beat) Whew.

Jen: But some utterances are more dialogic than others. The epic and the lyric poem, according to Bakhtin, aspire to a monologic unity of voice and expression that attempts to rise above the marketplace of historically situated social exchange to a level of pure expression and disembodied, ahistorical authority.

Ric: The novel, on the other hand, at least at its most polyphonic--

Jen: (Bakhtin finds this in Dostoevsky and Rabelais; Kristeva in Qcriture feminine, in which she includes works by Joyce, Artaud, and Bataille, as well as by women.)

Ric: --aspires to the free play--

Jen: --or open contestation--

ic: --of equal and interilluminating voices, in which the authority of author and narrator is invaded by the independent, unmerged voices of the characters, manifesting themselves through indirect discourse, parody, "the word with a loophole"--

Jen: --or a "sideways glance"--

Ric & Jen: --double voicing--

Jen: --"intonational quotation marks"--

Ric: --words spoken with a "cringe"--

Jen: --as if in quotation marks--

Jen (speaks, as Ric mouths the word): --"ventriloquism"--

Ric: --hyperbole--

Jen: --parody--

Ric: --or, not that I'd do this myself--

Jen: (self consciousness)

Ric: --using self-deprecating, overblown speech that repudiates itself in advance.

Jen: There's also "indirect speaking," "quasi-direct speech," and embedding, in which the speech or accents of another person are--

Ric: --inserted--

Jen: --in the speaker's utterance--

Ric: --the voice of the other internalized--

Jen: --but not entirely appropriated--

Ric & Jen:--or "merged."

Ric: So what makes traditional theatrical modes of presentation not dialogic?

Jen: In Bakhtin's view, the freedom and independence of the authorial voice, the politics of speech reported in indirect discourse, and participation--

Ric: --the absence of "footlights," which may be interpreted as anything which "separates the aesthetic event from lived life" (Art and Answerability 217)--

Jen: --are essential for dialogism, but are excluded from drama, which he sees as "alien to genuine polyphony," primarily because it "is almost always constructed out of represented, objectified discourses" (Problems 34, 188).

Ric: He argues that "pure drama strives toward a unitary language, one that is individualized merely through dramatic personae who speak it." "Dramatic dialogue," he insists, "is determined by a collision between individuals who exist within the limits of a single unitary language" (Dialogic Imagination 405).

Jen: It's this conflation in drama of character and unitary voice--the sense that a dramatist represents a subject through the use of an individuated voice--which Michael Sidnell focused on in Ottawa. In counterdistinction to this, he argued, "[Guillermo] Verdecchia's Fronteras Americanas is about a failure of social integration, and, more fundamentally, about the lack of self-coherence that is desired both for its own sake and as the condition of communality. The problem for performance--a problem that Verdecchia's performance confronts head-on--is that these desiderata are conventionally assumed as the very basis of theatre, which may be said to celebrate them" (3-4).

Ric: What, then, makes a monologue in the theatre dialogic?

Jen: According to Paul Castagno, "dialogizing monologue" involves three "dematrixing" techniques:

Ric: His emphasis. His word, too.

Jen: "The actor/character can be de-matrixed if they 1)

Ric: "fracture the mould of a specific character

Jen: "2)

Ric: "directly acknowlege or address the presence of the audience

Jen: [Hello audience]

Ric: "or Jen: "3)

Ric: "foreground the presence of the actor over character" (137).

Jen: We found that useful--

Ric: And we hope you did too.

Jen: Sidnell argued, moreover, that the "dialogism of theatrical monologue is quite different...from the virtuosity of one actor playing many roles.... And...is also distinct from the representation of one character in conflict with himself."

Ric: "It's not," he argued, "a character that the dialogic monologue represents but a fractured, incoherent or self-alienated subject through which various voices are heard" (5).

Jen: Not all monologues, then, are equal: some, again, are more dialogic than others,--

Ric: --even if you don't get into generic distinctions involving story telling, performance art, stand-up--

Jen (cutting him off): --which we won't get into. There are, for example, monologues--or soliloquies--that occur within plays whose central mode is dialogue, and in such plays as Judith Thompson's these are central, and often dialogic, devices. There is also, for economic reasons, a current proliferation of Canadian monologues as plays, in many of which a single character is played throughout by a single actor. Some of these, such as Michael Cook's Terese's Creed, Joan MacLeod's Jewel, Wendy Lill's The Occupation of Heather Rose, Judith Thompson's Pink, and so on, are not notably dialogic, but in the case of work such as Daniel MacIvor's See Bob Run or Wild Abandon, Cook's absurdist monodramas Tiln and Quiller, Tom Cone's Herringbone, or Thompson's Perfect Pie, the single character is fragmented, her "voice" dialogically invaded and fractured.

Ric: Some monodramas, such as Dan Needles' Wingfield Trilogy, involve splitting the link between actor and character by requiring the actor to perform multiple roles. Such performances, nevertheless, remain predominantly monologic-- at least from the point of view of the audience--in that the virtuosity of role switching produces the illusion of dialogue among discrete characters for whom the need to create distinct, unitary voices is felt, for reasons of clarity, to be particularly urgent.

Jen: There are also plays such as Michel Tremblay's Albertine en cinq temps and David Young's Glenn, in which several actors collectively play one character, a potentially dialogic device, but one that is often neutralized, as in these plays, by the fact that the actors represent the character at various stages in his or her life, employing a unitary voice for each distinct role. A more complex, more dialogic variation on this device occurs in Daniel MacIvor's 2-2-Tango: A Two-Man-One-Man-Show, in which the "characters" are named James and Jim, are identically dressed, and interact with one another in the present.

Ric: Finally, there is a sub-genre of "lecture/plays," such as John Palmer's Henrik Ibsen on the Necessity of Producing Norwegian Drama, and Daniel Brooks and Guillermo Verdecchia's The Noam Chomsky Lectures, in this last of which the actor/lecturers--

Jen: --playing "themselves," incorporate--

Ric: --contradictions--

Jen: --disagreements--

Ric: --and fragments from different genres,--

Jen: --in a very sophisticated, assertively, and self-consciously--

Ric: --and therefore dialogically?--

Jen: --monologic dialogue.

Ric: Somewhat like these lectures, in fact.

Jen: Except not...

Ric: (Looks at her) In fact, we considered doing for the ACTR what Brooks and Verdecchia did for Theatre Passe Muraille.

Jen: Rather Ric considered it.

Ric: A sexual flow chart. Complete with little arrows saying "you are here."

Jen: But I vetoed it.

Ric: Too many straight lines?

Jen: What about a line of stars?

Ric: Ok.

Jen: We are most interested here in a particular kind of monologue, plays in which a single character engages in a dialogical accounting for a "life" that is in some sense represented autobiographically. These include Verdecchia's Fronteras Americanas; Monique Mojica's Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots (not, strictly speaking, a monologue); Margo Kane's Moonlodge; Daniel MacIvor's House and Wild Abandon; Ken Garnhum's Beuys, Buoys, Boys, Surrounded by Water, and Pants on Fire (also not strictly a monologue); and three plays that are not notably autobiographical, except perhaps in form: Margaret Hollingsworth's Apple in the Eye and Diving (Willful Acts 17-32, 113-118), and Sharon Pollock's Getting it Straight.

Ric: Each of these reveals the "salient features of novelization" as Bakhtin describes them in "Epic and Novel": "they become... free and flexible, their language renews itself by incorporating extraliterary heteroglossia..., they become dialogized, permeated with laughter, irony, humor, elements of self-parody and finally--this is the most important thing--...an indeterminacy, a certain semantic openendedness, a living contact with unfinished, still-evolving contemporary reality (the openended present)" (Dialogic Imagination 6-7). "In these plays," as Sidnell says, "performance becomes... theory in action" (2).

Jen: This is so because, as a form, autobiography can expose thefalsity of the concept of the single consciousness, by publicly constructing the "life" of the "self." Bakhtin argues, in Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, that "no human events are developed or resolved within the bounds of a single consciousness" (288). When a single consciousness stages her attempt to represent the development and resolution of her life, the fiction that (auto)biography "discloses" a pre-existing character by accounting for its "development" (or its social construction) is made manifest.

Ric: And as Bakhtin says elsewhere, in a different context, this is not merely a matter of the author's image appearing within his own field of representation-- important here is the fact that the underlying, original formal author appears in a new relationship with the represented world. Both find themselves now subject to the same temporally valorized measurements, for the "depicting" authorial language now lies on the same plane as the "depicted" language...and may enter into dialogic relations and hybrid combinations with it (Dialogic Imagination 27-8). This, in a sense, is what happens in Ken Garnhum's Pants on Fire--

Jen: "a one-man show for two people"--

Ric: --when the author and represented autobiographical subject, "Ken" (played by Ken Garnhum), tells the fictional character, "Gabe," (played by Andy Massingham), "that's a stupid thing to say," to which Gabe responds, "you wrote it."

Jen: At the centre of the show, which consists in part of a self-portrait that stitches together a series of self-portraits, is a portrait of the self as the Tower of Babel--

Ric: --which is defined in the show itself as "a confusion of voices."

Jen: The fact that much Canadian autobiographical monodrama-- including Garnhum's plays, Daniel MacIvor's House, See Bob Run, and Wild Abandon, and Sharon Pollock's Getting it Straight--is confessional in form, is a complicating factor (Wilson).

Ric: Confession is problematic for Bakhtin.

Jen: In the 1961 Appendix to Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, he discusses confession as an encounter of the deepest I with another and with others.... But the I in this encounter must be the pure, deep I from within oneself, without any admixture of presumed and forced or naively assimilated points of view and evaluations from another.... Without a mask...without loopholes, without a false ultimate word, that is, without all that is externalizing and false. (Problems 294)

Ric: From anyone else this would seem like romanticism, but Bakhtin is referring to the true, internal, social self.

Jen: And besides, Bakhtin wasn't always very consistent.

Ric: But as Dennis A. Foster says, "introspection is a delusion, since each person has to seek his meaning through the speech of others" (10). "The confessional narrative occurs...between two substantial, unsettled subjects" (3). Foster sees the confessional narrative as a site of struggle between writing and interpreting subjects, which "unsettle[s] the listener's sense of self-possession," and thereby "sets the listener to work" (5). It is this capacity to "set the listener to work" that we are interested in here. At least I am.

Jen: I'm interested in looking at how the dialogism of monologue in the theatre might destabilize subjectivity, given that the actor--

Ric: --particularly the solitary actor--

Jen: --often stands indexically for an autonomous subject, which is easily conflated with the character the actor is playing.

Ric: When this conflation takes place in an autobiographical monologue, written and performed by its subject, the theatrical frisson can be both powerfully effective and representationally confusing. Who, precisely, are we watching, and what are we analysing as a work of theatre when, in Come Good Rain--

Jen: --billed as "a true story, written and performed by George Seremba"--

Ric: --we see the scars on the actor/character's body through which the bullets passed earlier in the life/narrative; or when Ken Garnhum tells us, in Pants on Fire--

Jen: --a play that is largely about representation, including the representation of AIDS--

Ric: --that "he" is HIV positive?

Jen: And who is "he" anyway?

Ric: The question is made even more complicated by the fact that "he" has made it clear earlier in the play that he is a liar, and that theatre is his favourite kind of lying.

Jen: At one point, the stage floor opens, and a "Trojan Cat" enters, bearing on a slip of paper a one-word invasionary force:

Ric: --"liar."

Jen: Fraud.

Ric: Get off the stage.

Jen: One of the functions of Pants on Fire is to interrogate what Ann Wilson calls "the nostalgic belief that theatre involves presence" (35), by drawing attention to the fact that these moments of full confessional presence are rehearsed-- "rQpQtitions"--and that the powerful, "forced" confession that "Ken Garnhum" has AIDS, to which audiences respond with stunned silence, is performed night after night for the length of the run.

Ric: Each of the plays we are considering, then, is in some sense about what Michael Holquist calls "the Bakhtinian just-so-story of subjectivity," or, "how I get myself from the other," since "in order to forge a self, I must do it from outside. In other words I author myself" (Dialogism 28).

Jen: And consequently, as Bakhtin says, "we have no alibi for existence" (quoted in Holquist, Dialogism 29). He insists that "human being is the production of meaning" (Holquist.Dialogism 162), and he is careful, in a passage that goes some distance towards explaining his reticence about dialogism in the theatre, to distinguish between "person"-- which is dialogic, in process, unique, unpredictable, and constructed; and "character"--which is monologic, completed, generalized, and determined.

Ric: As Michael Gardiner puts it, "for Bakhtin, human consciousness is not a unified whole, but always exists in a tensile, conflict-ridden relationship with other consiousnesses, in a constant alterity between self and other.

Jen: "In fact... the very process of acquiring self-consciousness from birth to maturity is, in Bakhtin's eyes, utterly dependent upon discursive interaction with another 'I'" (Gardiner 28).

Ric: "We are, "as Gary Saul Morson puts it, "the voices that inhabit us" (Morson, "Who Speaks" 8).

Jen: Consequently, "since this process [of coming intosubjectivity] is fundamentally historical," "the subject in Bakhtin's eyes is unfinalized

Ric: "(and, yes, 'decentered'),

Jen: "in a perpetual state of 'becoming'" (Gardiner 165).

Ric: What we are witnessing in these monologues, as Wilson says, is "the self-consciousness of the performer producing his identity in the context of a wide range of social forces," a self-consciousness that "disrupts the notion of a coherent self which can be told in a story" (Wilson 37).

Jen: A play such as Daniel MacIvor's House, as Robert Wallace notes, openly and self-consciously presents the construction of a character, Victor, as "the sum of his texts" (8). House "draws attention to...the audience's overt participation in the creation," and nevertheless "resists their interpretation" (Wallace 10), finally drawing attention to the incompleteness and inadequacy of coherent and unified concepts of a stable human identity. By becoming aware that we are watching, not Victor, but "the performance of Victor" (Wallace 13), we are made conscious of both the fragmented, processual nature of subjectivity, and of what Caryl Emerson calls "the indispensibility of otherness" ("The Tolstoy Connection" 155).

Ric: The indispensibility of otherness is, in one sense, what Garnhum's Pants on Fire is about, as the performance artist who writes, designs, and performs his own work faces the onset of an illness that undermines his self-sufficiency. But it also confronts him with the ongoing need for the other as a necessary part of representation, whether that other is allowed onto the stage, as in this play--a self portrait that requires two people--

Jen: --very Bakhtinian--

Ric: --or is merely acknowledged as a necessary part of the construction of the self, requiring the audience's complicity, as in House, or indeed most of the plays under discussion.

Jen: These plays do not shrink, however, from representing the dangers of the fracturing of subjectivity. It is not incidental that Victor is "fucked up," or that Eme, the central character in Sharon Pollock's stream-of-consciousness monologue, Getting it Straight, is represented as schizophrenic, an escapee from her "keepers"--

Ric: --even if those plays might seem to suggest that schizophrenia is an appropriate response, to a world that's "fucked up."

Jen: Ultimately, however, the plays we are looking at exemplify Bakhtin's insistence on the responsibility of the historically situated subject, and what Michael Holquist calls "the need for choice." At all the possible levels of conflict between stasis and change, there is always a situated subject whose specific place is defined precisely by its in-between- ness. To be responsible for the site we occupy in the space of nature and the time of history is a mandate we cannot avoid. (Dialogism 181)

Ric: We are interested, then--

Jen: --in spite of the danger that dialogism, like carnival--or "the degraded carnival of postmodernism," as Michael Gardiner calls it (95)--will turn out to be--

Ric & Jen: --just another liberal humanist form of all-embracing pluralism.

Ric: Ok, ok, not we: I'm interested--in the potential for social change that the dialogic construction of subjectivity makes possible (see O'Connor 201), in the free play of voices which disrupts the

: --internal conflicts," as Caryl Emerson says, "exposing their mechanisms to the light of day. If enough individuals experience the same gap," she argues, "it is resocialized: there develops a political underground, and the potential for revolution" ("The Outer Word" 32).

         Jen: And I want to consider the potential for dialogism to
      "deprivilege," as Helene Keyssar says, "absolute, authoritarian
    discourses" ("Drama and the Dialogic" 89). How, for example, may the
     dialogic configuration of subjectivity affect the construction of
        gender, and can it be used to deprivilege the discourses of
    Ric: Bakhtin did not, in his writings, analyse any texts produced by
     women; he assumed a male readership for his work; and he chose to
   discuss a great deal of overtly sexist writing. As Wayne C. Booth asks
     "is it not remarkable to discover nohint in such a penetrating and
                            exhaustive inquiry--
                   Jen: [--penetrating and exhaustive--]
       Ric: --"into how our various dialects are constituted...of the
   influence of sexual differences, no hint that women talk or have ever
     talked in ways different from men's?" (Booth 154) (Beat. Looks to
                               Jen: Carry on.
    Ric: Nevertheless, as Keyssar says, "there is a striking confluence
     between the attention to the construction of multi-voicedness and
       hybridization in much of contemporary feminist writing and in
            Bakhtin's criticism" ("Drama and the Dialogic" 95).
   Jen: The contributors to Bauer and McKinstry's Feminism, Bakhtin, and
    the Dialogic, addressing "The Dilemmas of a Feminine Dialogic," tend
    to focus on the ways in which dialogism "questions the 'normalcy' of
    monolithic, hierarchical social relations" (Herndl 19), and helps to
        get beyond the "problematical binary opposition 'in here/out
    there'"(Schwab 67). As Dale Bauer says, the feminist struggle is not
    one between a conscious "awakened" or natural voice and the voice of
    patriarchy "out there." Rather precisely because we all internalize
    the authoritative voice of patriarchy, we must struggle to refashion
    inherited social discourses into words which rearticulate intentions
               other than normative or disciplinary ones. (2)
       Ric: Margaret Hollingsworth's The Apple in the Eye and Diving
      illustrate the dissident, as opposed to hegemonic, potential of
       internalizing, refashioning, and ventriloquizing the voice of
    patriarchy, as the central characters, Gemma in Apple and Viveca in
   Diving, assimilate-with-a-twist words, phrases, and constructions that
                      are explicitly external to them.
   Jen: In The Apple in the Eye, Gemma picks up words that she has "never
   heard of" from her husband's crossword puzzle, words like "arcane" and
    "behemoth," and, eschewing his "first order logic" together with his
      "artificial intelligence," she internalizes them in a gesture of
     anti-hegemonic appropriation, recontextualizing them in a dialogic
       play of associative "little funnies," as her off-stage husband
                        condescendingly calls them.
     Ric: Diving does something similar with a voice-over discourse of
     command and obedience appropriated from animal training, athletic
   coaching, and parenting, as Viveca employs a carnivalesque "grotesque
             inversion" to rewrite herself into the discourse--
                   Jen: --as a sort of "Trojan femme"?--
       Ric: --and "capture," on a tape that she herself controls, the
                     instructional voice of authority.
      Jen: Finally, Sharon Pollock's Getting it Straight discursively
   carnivalizes patriarchal languages in a textbook exercise in Qcriture
     feminine. At the end of the play Eme, too, "confesses": "I let the
   briefcase hang from my hand," she says, "as I walk to/ the water I sit
   on the shore and I use the key I tear/the papers to pieces I chew and
    I swallow" (125). Having chewed and swallowed the words contained in
      the throbbing and threatening briefcase, symbol of her husband's
    patriarchal corporate power, she turns to address the audience, "the
    egg talkin' to all members a the female/sex," imagining spinning "a
   gossamer net of women's hands and rapunzel's/ hair," and wondering, in
           the play's final lines, "what would it spell?" (126).
      Ric: Appropriately, then, these monologues can be seen to employ
     Bakhtinian dialogics for feminist ends, deprivileging patriarchal
    discourses, internalizing them antihegemonically, and reconstructing
               them dialogically as wild and whirling words.
     Jen: Dialogism can also be used to deprivilege other authoritarian
      discourses, and in Canadian monologues it has been particularly
   effective recently in deprivileging the discourses of ethnocentricism,
      or, in English Canada, "anglo-conformity," as Donna Bennett has
   recently called it. In Canada, at least, ethnicity itself seems to be
        dialogically constituted, while ethnocentrism is, of course,
                          determinedly monologic.
      Ric: As Bakhtin says (though he wasn't at this point thinking of
      ethnicities), Monologism denies that there exists outside of it
   another consciousness, with the same rights, and capable of responding
      on an equal footing, another andequal I (thou). For a monologic
         outlook...the other remains entirely and only an object of
     consciousness, and cannot constitute another consciousness.... The
    monologue is accomplished and deaf to the other's response; it does
   not await it and does not grant it any decisive force. Monologue makes
    do without the other; that is why to some extent it objectivizes all
              reality. Monologue pretends to be the last word.
   Jen: In doing so it absorbs, assimilates, and colonizes the discourses
    of the other (constructed and objectified as stable and unchanging),
         and thereby reifies existing asymmetrical power relations.
   Ric: Ethnographic theorists see the dialogism of ethnicity itself as a
   potential fissure in ethnocentrist discourse. As Michael Fisher says,
      "a process of assuming an ethnic identity is an insistence on a
    pluralist, multidimensional, or multifaceted concept of self [that]
         can be a crucible for a wider social ethos" (Fischer 196).
     Jen: Though as Bakhtin says, shifting the ground to discourse and
    nation, this "verbal-ideological decentering will occur only when a
    national culture loses its sealed-off and self-sufficient character,
    when it becomes conscious of itself as only one among other cultures
                 and languages" (Dialogic Imagination 23).
     Ric: Bakhtin's thoughts on these and other issues were influenced,
   according to Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist, by his having grown
    up in the multi-ethnicVilnius, "a realized example of heteroglossia"
    (22), and one that in this sense resembled the Toronto of the 1990s,
       where Sidnell's prime example of dialogic monologue, Fronteras
             Americanas, was first produced and is in part set.
           Jen: Written and performed by its Argentinian-Canadian
   autobiographical subject, Guillermo Verdecchia, Fronteras is notable--
   Ric: --quite apart from those things it shares with most of the plays
    under consideration: its use of disruptive laughter, its "linguistic
   carnival" (Spanish and some French as well as various modes of spoken
   English), its disruptions of subjectivity, its mixture of styles, its
       use of parodic exaggeration and inversion, and its Bakhtinian
           employment of a hero, "Wideload McKennah," as jester--
       Jen: --as I was saying, it is notable for its recognition and
     development of the idea that, as Peter Stallybrass and Allon White
   have said, "cultural identity is inseparable from limits, it is always
                       a boundary phenomenon" (200).
      Ric: In fact, the play is an example as well as a discussion of
          cultural production as a boundary, or border phenomenon.
     Jen: When Verdecchia argues that we all must learn to "live on the
   border" (77), he echoes Bakhtin's various arguments that "a person has
      no internal sovereign territory, he is wholly and always on the
       boundary" (Problems 287). The borders, or "fronteras" to which
      Verdecchia refers are also, in a bilingual pun, a new frontier,
      perhaps a "new national culture" such as Bakhtin posited in his
   utopian vision, and in this, too, Verdecchia echoes Bakhtin's position
   that "a cultural domain has no inner territory. It is located entirely
                           upon boundaries....":
    Ric: Every cultural act lives essentially on the boundaries, and it
   derives its seriousness from this fact. Separated by abstraction from
       these boundaries, it loses the ground of its being and becomes
     vacuous, arrogant; it degenerates and dies. (Art and Answerability
      Jen: And when Verdecchia issues his "manifesto"--not a "plea for
    tolerance" but a "summons to begin negotiations, to claim your place
      on the continent" (54), and asks, "will you call off the Border
      Patrol?" (77) because "the border is your home" (74), he evokes
      Bakhtin's call late in life for "benevolent demarcation. Without
                   border disputes" (Speech Genres 137).
   Ric: Finally, near the end of Fronteras, Verdecchia locates himself on
         the border in a way that sounds archetypally Bakhtinian--
               Jen: --isn't that a contradiction in terms?--
     Ric: --yes--in its heteroglossia, its insistence on the processual
           nature of identity as a highway, and its parodic wit:
               Jen: I'm not in Canada; I'm not in Argentina.
                             I'm on the Border.
                                 I'm Home.
    Mais zooot alors, je comprends maintenant, mais oui, merde! Je suis
    Argentin-Canadien! I'm a post-Porteno neo-Latino Canadian! I am the
                   Pan-American highway! (Verdecchia 74)
        Ric: Dialogic monologues can disrupt ethnocentric and other
   authoritarian discourses in a variety of ways, including what I think
      of as the structural, or formal heteroglossia of a play such as
          Monique Mojica's Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots.
   Jen: Princess Pocahontas is not, strictly speaking, a monologue, since
          it includes a musician--Alejandra Nu±ez in the original
         production--who also plays several small supporting roles.
   Ric: Nor is it autobiographical in the same ways as the other plays we
                              are discussing--
    Jen: --though its form is in some sense autobiographical, and as an
   anti-hegemonic revisioning of dominant myths of Native women, written
       and performed by Mojica out of a strong and resisting subject
        position, from which its various characters, historical and
         contemporary, seem to emerge, it can be seen as a kind of
                    spiritual/historical autobiography.
    Ric: On one level, Princess Pocahontas, like Margo Kane's Moonlodge,
     would seem to function counter- rather than anti-hegemonically, in
    that, like Moonlodge, with its transhistorical and perhaps nostalgic
    mission of recovering a lost sense of self, it posits and asserts a
         strong, stable, and empowering community of Native women--
                        Jen: --a counter-hegemony--
     Ric: --who share what seems to be an essentialist identity as both
                       Native-Canadians and as women.
   Jen: Princess Pocahontas explicitly ties this essentialist identity to
   the biological marker of the "blue spot at the base of the spine--the
       sign of Indian blood" (Mojica 20). Even as this authenticating
                           signifier functions--
                  Ric: --like post-colonial nationalisms--
   Jen: --as an empowering device for a marginalized group, however, the
       play simultaneously cuts across the boundary lines and "border
    patrols" of the colonizing dominant, emphasizing that even though it
       is counter- rather than anti-hegemonic, it is nevertheless not
        normative. Princess Pocahontas does not reinscribe, or even
     acknowledge the geo-political divisions that Fronteras Americanas
   confronts; the myths of Native identity that it attacks or constructs
      are indiscriminately drawn from all of North, Central, and South
     America; and the hybrid nature of Native and other ethnicities is
    asserted at every turn, as well as embodied in the author-performer.
     Mojica's heritage as a Native-Canadian half-breed born in New York
    City to a Kuna-Rappahanock mother and Jewish father positions her as
            an embodiment of Bakhtin's hybridization, and of the
                   Bakhtin/Verdecchia border phenomenon.
      Ric: Princess Pocahontas uses a truly carnivalesque blending of
           musical and performance styles, including what Bakhtin
     calls"extraliterary" (Dialogic Imagination 411) and "proclamatory"
     genres (Speech Genres 132), together with parodic exaggeration and
       inversion, to deprivilege both ethnocentric and phallocentric
   Jen: It also explicitly employs a structural principle thatKeyssar has
             articulated as being both Bakhtinian and feminist.
   Ric: Mojica includes in the prefatory material to the published script
                      an explanation of its structure:
     Jen: There are 13 transformations, one for each moon in the lunar
     year.... There are 4 sections where there is a transfiguration of
   three women or entities who are one.... 13 moons, 4 directions; it is
     not a linear structure but it is the form and the basis from which
                  these stories must be told. (Mojica 16)
    Ric: The playwright, then, explicitly rejects what Keyssar describes
         as the "resistance to [polyphony]" of traditional western
   dramaturgical structures, adopting one based on Native mythologies and
   "transformation," which "requires not that we remove...disguises that
   conceal us from our 'true' selves," as in Aristotelian "recognition,"
   "but that we imagine men and women in a continual process of becoming
    Jen: "It is becoming other, not finding oneself, that is the crux of
                        the drama," Keyssar argues--
    Ric: --and she argues further that such "transformational strategies
       go hand in hand with the dialogic imagination" ("Drama and the
                              Dialogic" 92-3).
   Jen: Like all of the plays under discussion, then, Princess Pocahontas
        functions in a variety of formal ways as dialogic monologue,
       emphasizing not simply heterogeneity but "'social/ideological'
   contradictions" (Yaeger 244), to destabilize, subvert, or carnivalize
      authoritarian discourses, and to open the way for effective and
                           ongoing social change.
    Jen: As with all utopian visions, there are problems withBakhtin's.
   The most apparent of these have to do with how to construct a space in
    which dialogue can take place--an arena of free contestation between
     equal voices--when hegemony dictates that the consciousnesses and
      voices of marginalized groups are inevitably inflected with the
                        discourses of the dominant.
                         Ric: Can voices be equal?
      Jen: Who, and what, controls the construction of dialogic space?
   Ric: This problem reveals itself clearly in Bakhtin's construction of
    carnival and carnival laughter as healthy and socially disruptive--
   Jen: --when in practice both frequently reinforce social stereotypes,
    and therefore aid social control of ethnic minorities, women, gays,
         lesbians, and others. Heard any good Newfie jokes lately?
   Ric: At the heart of this is the question of power, and the fact that
   "communication is by nature more coercive and disproportionate than we
      think," as Aaron Fogel notes, "when we sentimentalize terms like
    dialogue and communication" (195)--and as Deborah Jacobs points out,
                  when we "romanticise marginality" (73).
      Jen: And as Ken Hirschkop says, "dialogue" must be understood to
    include "not only the liberal exchange of views but alsoquestions of
                   cultural oppression and power" (75)--
    Ric: --an understanding that will inevitably--and especially in the
   Stalinist context of Bakhtin's own historical place and time--include
   coercion, interrogation, force, and unequal societal, grammatical, and
                    rhetorical forms and relationships.
                             Jen: Shut up, Ric.
       Ric: Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the ACTR?
    Jen: Finally, as Michael Andre Bernstein points out, it is important
       not to sentimentalize the potential for genuinely unstructured
   polyphony to trap the individual in an "intolerable babble of voices"
      that is akin to madness or neurosis, as represented in House and
      Getting it Straight, or that can produce a reactionary monologic
               attempt to shout down and control the "noise."
     Ric: The voices of polyphony, Bakhtin would argue, must be firmly
   grounded in the utterances of an individual and historicized subject.
   Jen: In spite of these concerns, and of Bakhtin's own awareness of the
      fragility of "the dialogic sphere" (Speech Genres 150), there is
     surely hope, as well as trepidation, in a model in which dialogic
      questioning has the potential to"change the consciousness of the
       individual" (Speech Genres 136), and therefore of the culture.
   Ric: Even acknowledging the possibility of abuse deriving from unequal
   power relations in the theatre and in the world, the monologues we've
   looked at, as historical utterances in the context of Canadian theatre
    today, when initiated and controlled by the societally disempowered,
    can provide a tentative model of contesting and unmerged voices with
      the ongoing and open-ended potential to change consciousnesses,
                     societies, and social structures.
   Jen: The potential provided by dialogism lies, then, in its ability to
     change, structurally, the ways in which we perceive the world, as
   Bakhtin believed that Dostoevsky and Rabelais did and continue to do,
   and as we believe plays such as the Canadian dialogic monologues that
                  we have been discussing are able to do.
    Ric: For as Michael Holquist points out, "we experience the world in
      all its most common and frequent occasions as forms" (Holquist,
                              Dialogism 151).
   Jen: Perhaps it's appropriate here to give the last but hopefully not
                 closing words of this dialogue to Bakhtin.
   Ric: And perhaps appropriately, they constitute Bakhtin's last but not
                             closing writings.
   Jen: There is no first or last discourse, and dialogical context knows
    no limits (it disappears into an unlimited past and in our unlimited
     future). Even past meanings, that is those that have arisen in the
     dialogue of past centuries, can never be stable...they will always
        change (renewing themselves) in the course of the dialogue's
   subsequent development.... At every moment of the dialogue, there are
      immense and unlimited masses of forgotten meanings...th[at] will
   return to memory and live in renewed form (in a new context). Nothing
     is absolutely dead: every meaning will celebrate its rebirth. The
         problem of the great temporality. (Quoted in Todorov 110)
We would like to acknowledge the writers whose work we cite, together with those
whose work and voices we have dialogically and unconsciously internalized. We
quote extensively, and employ extensive footnotes, in an attempt to create a
kind of critical polyphony--to admit as many voices, positions, and genres as
possible into the text. A version of this dialogue was presented at the meetings
of the Association for Canadian Theatre Research / Association de la recherche
theatrale au Canada in Calgary, 5 June 1994.
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     ---. Rabelais and His World. Trans. HQlFne Iswolsky. Bloomington:
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      ---. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Ed. Caryl Emerson and
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   Chronicles and Fefu and her Friends." Modern Drama 34.1 (March 1991):
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   McKinnie, Michael. "Calling off the Border Patrol: Bhabha's 'The Other
    Question' and Guillermo Verdecchia's Fronteras Americanas." Cultural
          Studies in Canada Conference, U of Toronto, 12 May 1994.
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            ---. "Who Speaks for Bakhtin?" Morson, Bakhtin 1-19.
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   and the Canadian Stage, Toronto, at 26 Berkeley Street, Upstairs, 8-26
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     Sidnell, Michael. "Fronteras Theatrales." Unpublished typescript.
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                  Transgression. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1986.
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    ---. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Trans. Ladislav Matejka
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                         MacIvor, House/Humans 7-14
        Wilson, Ann. "Bored to Distraction: Auto-Performance and the
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         This page has been edited for the 'Web' by Edward Mullaly.
                               mullaly@unb.ca  August 1996
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