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Gestures of Music TheaterThe Performativity of Song and Dance$
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Dominic Symonds and Millie Taylor

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199997152

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199997152.001.0001

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Acting Operatically

Acting Operatically

Body, Voice, and the Actress in Beckett’s Theater

(p.191) Chapter 12 Acting Operatically
Gestures of Music Theater

Marianne Sharp

Oxford University Press

Focusing on what this chapter terms its “operatic” vocal score, this chapter offers a detailed analysis of Fiona Shaw’s performance as Winnie in Beckett”s Happy Days (1961), in Deborah Warner’s revival production at the Royal National Theatre, London (2007). The analysis focuses on Shaw’s physical and vocal scores and their inter-relation. Utilising Roland Barthes’ work in “The Grain of the Voice” (1977) and Steven Connor’s work on “the sob” (2008), the chapter argues that Shaw’s construction of an “operatic” vocal score eventually produces, at the peak of the “sob,” a moment of pure geno-song which communicates with the individual spectator via a “chora-like” performance energy (see Kristeva 1984). Characterising Shaw’s vocal score as an “extended sob,” the chapter discusses the particular implications of this for the spectator’s experience of the work.

Keywords:   geno-song, Fiona Shaw, Beckett, the sob, Deborah Warner, physical score, vocal score

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