Theatre as Voyeurism: the Pleasure of Watching

Chapter 8: Viewing the Pornographic Theatre: Explicit Voyeurism, Artaud, and Ann Liv Young’s Cinderella

 

Editor’s Description (from p. 21 of George Rodosthenous’s Introduction)

The eighth chapter deals with approaches to the naked exhibited body and the pornographic in theatre. Aaron C. Thomas considers the work of Ann Liv Young in ‘Viewing the Pornographic Theatre: Explicit Voyeurism, Artaud and Ann Liv Young’s Cinderella’ and questions the ‘value of the pornographic in the theatre’ and ‘what pornography itself might make possible’. He interrogates Walter Kendrick’s important work on pornography The Secret Museum and invites the reader to imagine its pornographic utility. These theories are cast alongside Hunt’s and Bataille’s notions of gratuitousness and Artaud’s views on the pornographic theatre. He places the body of the viewer within the centre of this critical framework and summarizes Grosz’s proposal that this kind of theatre leads to a pleasure which is ‘kathartic – sexuality of release, orgasm, and ejaculation’. His discussion of Cinderella and its explicit pornographic content is linked to audience reception which can be ‘deep anger, frustration, and horror, as well as embarrassed fascination and lingering unsettlement’. Thomas stresses the significance of pornographic theatre and points out that ‘the most effective way for the theatre to defend itself from Artaud’s accusation that it is nothing more than a brothel, offering only momentary excitement, is, paradoxically, to move even closer towards the pornographic’.

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