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ThingsReligion and the Question of Materiality$
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Dick Houtman and Birgit Meyer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823239450

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.001.0001

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“Has this thing appeared again tonight?”: Deus Ex Machina and Other Theatrical Interventions of the Supernatural

“Has this thing appeared again tonight?”: Deus Ex Machina and Other Theatrical Interventions of the Supernatural

Chapter:
(p.127) “Has this thing appeared again tonight?”: Deus Ex Machina and Other Theatrical Interventions of the Supernatural
Source:
Things
Author(s):

Freddie Rokem

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.003.0008

The appearance of the supernatural on the theatrical stage as well as on the movie screen, in particular through a deus ex machina, but also in the form of ghosts or dybbuks, is still, even after the declaration of God's death a frequent phenomenon in modern and contemporary art. The stage can be seen as a utopian site, an aesthetic ‘no-place’, where the supernatural can appear, even if the audience does not necessarily ascribe to the religious belief-systems this kind of appearance implies. The chapter explores the interactions between the ‘language’ of performance, through which a certain dynamics is activated in the space we call the stage, on the one hand, and religious discursive practices or belief-systems, on the other, creating a discursive encounter where the religious things (alluding to the ghost in Shakespeare's Hamlet as the thing that appears again tonight) enter and even invade the aesthetic sphere of the performance.

Keywords:   Supernatural in theatre, performance and film, Deus ex machina, Ghosts, Dybbuk, Mimesis, Religious belief-systems, Aesthetic practices

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