Appearing and Exiting, Stage and Offstage. Bettine Menke

With respect to theatre, the issue of appearance (and disappearance) is primarily addressed in terms of entering (and exiting) the stage. It is an operation that is as concrete as it is physical and symbolic, and it generates and shapes realities. Entering means emerging over the threshold of the stage. It relates (as does exiting) to the border between onstage and backstage, and it tries to make us forget both this border and the relation to the offstage by establishing dramatic characters, a homogenous scenic space, etc. Entries enable processes of self-exhibition and of perception in the relationship between theatrical presentation and its framing (which makes such a presentation possible), and in its con­stitutive relation between visibility and invisibility, which is brought into play by entering the stage and exiting. In this sense entering the stage is itself to be regarded as a risky and unstable event – that is undecidable between emergence and disappearance. Appearing on the stage, which must figure what is showing itself so that this is not something incomprehensible, remains bound up with the diffuse background: that which is shapeless (or unshaped). Contemporary theatrical presentations often make back­stage visible via (supposedly) live video broadcasts from offstage. In this way the theatrical site is referred elsewhere, and the visible is presented as doubled and divided within itself. Pollesch’s Liebe ist kälter als das Kapital (Love is Colder than Capital) enacts this disposition of visibility: upon leaving the stage through the doors the actors end up on a film set where a film is being shot, called (inter alia) CDU – unsere Welt ist die Richtige (Christian Democratic Union of Germany – Our World is the Right One). «Once, traditionally, you left the stage and then you were in reality.»

BIO/BIB – Bettine Menke is Professor for Comparative Lit­erature at the University of Erfurt. Her research is focused on the areas of literary and text theory, deconstruction, gender, rhetoric, memory, poetic and sacral symbolic order, allegory, humour, the media of writing, image, sound, and on theatre (stage and performance): «On/Off» and «Suspendierung des Auftritts», in: They have their Exits and their Entries. Verkehrsformen in Drama und Theater, eds. Juliane Vogel, Christopher Wild. Berlin: Theater der Zeit (Recherchen) 2014, 182-190, 249-275. «Suspensionen des Auftritts (Lulu – Pollesch)», in: Auftritte. Strategien des In-Erscheinung-Tretens in den Künsten und Medien, eds. Juliane Hahn, Ulf Otto. Bielefeld: transcript (March) 2015 (in print), 3-29. Bettine Menke’s publications include Sprachfiguren. Name – Allegorie – Bild nach Walter Benjamin (1991 u. 2001); Prosopopoiia. Stimme und Text bei Brentano, Hoffmann, Kleist und Kafka (2000); Das Trauerspiel-Buch. Der Souverän – das Trauerspiel – Konstellationen – Ruinen (2010); Literatur als Philosophie. Philosophie als Literatur (with E. Horn und C. Menke) (2006); Tragödie. Trauerspiel. Spektakel (with C. Menke) (2007); Das Melodram: ein Medienbastard (with D. Eschkötter u. A. Schäfer) (2013); Experimentalanordnungen der Bildung: Exteriorität – Theatralität – Literarizität (with T. Glaser) (2014).