Reading Theatre

By Anne Ubersfeld, Jean-Patrick Debbeche, Paul J. Perron, and Frank Collins

© 1999

First published in France in 1976, Anne Ubersfeld's three-volume work, Lire le theatre, has made a resounding impact on the semiological study of drama. Reading Theatre is a long-awaited translation of the first volume.

Clear and systematic in its approach, the book covers all the basic elements of theatrical text and performance. Ubersfeld begins by refuting the view of performance as the simple 'translation' of a dramatic text, and outlines a much more complex dynamic. In subsequent chapters she similarly begins with a brief critique of simplistic models and then teases out the complexities of action, character, space, time, and dialogue. A range of specific examples brings substance and clarity to her points.

Ubersfeld shows how such formal analysis can enrich the work of theatre practitioners, offering a fruitful reading of the symbolic structures of stage space and time, and opening up multiple possibilities for interpreting a play's lines of action. Though firmly grounded in formalist and semiotic studies, the book exhibits a refreshing scepticism about scientific positivism, stressing the fundamental ambiguity of any dramatic text as well as the sociohistorical grounding of particular text and performance styles.

A pioneering work, this contemporary classic continues to inform debates in theatre semiotics. Addressed as much to actors and directors as to students and scholars, it will be read widely in theatre circles throughout the English-speaking world.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP001124

  • PUBLISHED SEP 1999

    From: $28.46

    Regular Price: $37.95

    ISBN 9780802082404
  • PUBLISHED AUG 1999

    From: $70.50

    Regular Price: $94.00

Quick Overview

Ubersfeld show how formal analysis can enrich the work of theatre practioners and offers a reading of the symbolic structures of stage space and time as well as opening up mulitple possibilities for interpreting a play's line of action.

Reading Theatre

By Anne Ubersfeld, Jean-Patrick Debbeche, Paul J. Perron, and Frank Collins

© 1999

First published in France in 1976, Anne Ubersfeld's three-volume work, Lire le theatre, has made a resounding impact on the semiological study of drama. Reading Theatre is a long-awaited translation of the first volume.

Clear and systematic in its approach, the book covers all the basic elements of theatrical text and performance. Ubersfeld begins by refuting the view of performance as the simple 'translation' of a dramatic text, and outlines a much more complex dynamic. In subsequent chapters she similarly begins with a brief critique of simplistic models and then teases out the complexities of action, character, space, time, and dialogue. A range of specific examples brings substance and clarity to her points.

Ubersfeld shows how such formal analysis can enrich the work of theatre practitioners, offering a fruitful reading of the symbolic structures of stage space and time, and opening up multiple possibilities for interpreting a play's lines of action. Though firmly grounded in formalist and semiotic studies, the book exhibits a refreshing scepticism about scientific positivism, stressing the fundamental ambiguity of any dramatic text as well as the sociohistorical grounding of particular text and performance styles.

A pioneering work, this contemporary classic continues to inform debates in theatre semiotics. Addressed as much to actors and directors as to students and scholars, it will be read widely in theatre circles throughout the English-speaking world.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    'Ubersfeld's book was one of the first attempts to study the dramatic text semiotically as a basis for performance. It is thus indispensable for any courses dealing with performance theory.'


    Pia Kleber, Director, University College Drama Program, University of Toronto

    'Reading Theatre is a pioneering work from arguably the most eminent drama critic in France today.'


    Marcel Danesi, University of Toronto
  • Author Information

    Anne Ubersfeld is Professor Emeritus and former Director of the Institut d'études théâtrales at the University of Paris-Sorbonne.



    Jean-Patrick Debbèche has a PhD in Semiotics and French Literature and is a researcher at the University of Toronto.



    Paul Perron is former Chair of the Department of French Studies at the University of Toronto and Principal emeritus of University College.



    Frank Collins is Associate Professor of French and Medieval Studies, University of Toronto.

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