How do you make yourself a theatre without organs? Deleuze, Artaud and the concept of differential presence

Laura Cull

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13 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides an exposition of four key concepts emerging in the encounter between the philosophical man of the theatre, Antonin Artaud, and the theatrical philosopher, Gilles Deleuze: the body without organs, the theatre without organs, the destratified voice and differential presence. The article proposes that Artaud's 1947 censored radio play To Have Done with the Judgment of God constitutes an instance of a theatre without organs that uses the destratified voice in a pursuit of differential presence – as a nonrepresentative encounter with difference that forces new thoughts upon us. Drawing from various works by Deleuze, including Difference and Repetition, The Logic of Sense, A Thousand Plateaus and ‘One Less Manifesto’, I conceive differential presence as an encounter with difference, or perpetual variation, as that which exceeds the representational consciousness of a subject, forcing thought through rupture rather than communicating meanings through sameness. Contra the dismissal of Artaud's project as paradoxical or impossible, the article suggests that his nonrepresentational theatre seeks to affirm a new kind of presence as difference, rather than aiming to transcend difference in order to reach the self-identical presence of Western metaphysics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-255
JournalTheatre Research International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

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