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Thematic polarities in the major plays of Jean Genet Raghunathan, Vaijayanthi 1976

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THEMATIC POLARITIES IN THE MAJOR PLAYS OF JEAN GENET by VAIJAYANTHI RAGHUNATHAN M.A., University of Madras, 1966 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Theatre) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1976 (c^ Vaijayanthi Raghunathan, 1976 In presenting th i s thes is in pa r t i a l fu l f i lment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L ibrary sha l l make it f ree ly ava i lab le for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of th i s thesis for scho lar ly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representat ives. It is understood that copying or pub l i ca t ion of this thes is for f inanc ia l gain sha l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 D a t e Pi^A^V J T . \°\1L i ABSTRACT The characters of Genet's drama l i ve in a world which is inadequate to certain basic emotional needs. The shortcomings of this world can be compensated for only in imagination, and so Genet's characters fantasize modes of l iv ing and social roles and gestures denied to them in real l i f e . The identit ies and attitudes they create in fantasy are therefore the opposites of the same factors in l i f e . Thus a l l the polar i t ies in Genet's drama stem from the basic dichotomy between rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . The average man tr ies to keep rea l i ty and i l l u s ion d i s t inct , but Genet deliberately confounds the two so that the identit ies he creates are continuously i n a state of f lux. When these ident i t ies become indefinable, contraries coincide. Genet's s ignif icant contribution to modern drama i s accomplished in his deft exploitation of the interchange-ab i l i t y of rea l i ty and i l l u s ion by which he gives theatrical expression to his view of the unity of opposites. This thesis i s a study of four of the most closely related sets of polar i t ies i n Genet's drama: the central duality of rea l i t y and i l l u s i on and the three related dual it ies of l i f e and death, love and hate and anarchy and order. It i s demonstrated that while Genet recognizes these conf l ict ing absolutes as unalterable facts of existence, he also shows them as providing the equilibrium necessary in turbulent human relations. The three major plays of Genet - The Balcony, The Blacks, and The Screens -are analysed from both a dramatic and a theatrical perspective. Although the examination of these plays in chronological order does not reveal any remarkable change in Genet's outlook as a dramatist, we do see a marked progress in his crafsmanship from The Balcony to The  Screens. In the course of these three plays he develops and refines the dr&matic and theatrical expression of his fundamental concern with the dialectic of dualities, moving closer to this ultimate resolution of these dualities into a philosophy of nothingness. TABLE OF CONTENTS Page INTRODUCTION 1 Notes 10 CHAPTER I Living and Dying 11 Notes 37 CHAPTER II Reality and I l lus ion AO Notes 72 CHAPTER III Love and Hate 74 Notes 106 CHAPTER IV Anarchy and Order 108 Notes 137 CONCLUSION 138 SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 143 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I am very much indebted to Professor Donald E. Soule for having guided my work with much patience, and Dr. Peter Loeffler for some very useful discussions. I also acknowledge the award of the Tina and Morris Wagner Foundation Fellowship during my graduate studies. 1 INTRODUCTION Drama has frequently been described as character in action. It i s an art that i s concerned with the relationship of human action to human character. Since every human i s d ist inct ive as as Individual, he has to be distinguished from others. Hence, i n a play, each character i s a tota l i ty of characteristics which distinguishes him from each of the other characters. Thus In i t s very use of the dramatic agents of character, a play emphasizes differences rather than s imi lar i t ies . The interrelat ion of these characters who epitomize oppositional t ra i t s i s naturally a conf l ictual one. I f drama --'can: be described as character i n action, the essence of drama i s conf l ict* Confl ict i s created by the tension of opposites and i t i s the element that makes the inter-action of characters dynamic. In br ie f , the action of a play becomes potential ly dramatic with the introduction of conf l i c t . It i s obvious, therefore, that the polarization of some of i t s elements Is basic to the creation of drama. In the Poetics, Ar i s tot le distinguishes the dramatic art from the epic and the l y r i c by saying that although a l l three imitate men, the dramatic mode of Imitation has a l l the persons who are performing the Imitation, acting. Three factors emerge as signif icant in drama from this def in i t ion: imitation, action, and, indirect ly, performance. Drama 2 presupposes performance. The presence of an audience i s a prerequisite. Secondly, the action performed i s an imitation and not a rea l happening. Thirdly, Ar i s to t le ' s reference to the acting reminds one of the physicality of the actor, his posture, voice, and movements. In other words, a play does not become a drama unt i l It has been realized in performance on a stage. The duality of the dramatic and the theatrical elements i s inherent In drama and operates at a l l levels. The principle of duality i s important i n the experience of the theatre. There are two angles to this experience - the actor 's and the spectator'8 - and each enjoys a double perspective. The actor experiences the action on stage as both real and make-believe. As Harold Clurman puts i t , The actor ' forgets 1 himself i n his ro le, yet always knows that he i s playing, and that the object of his performance i s to entertain. 1 A good performer functions at once as both actor and character. His double vis ion i s matched by that of the spectator whose b i foca l i ty enables him to Immerse himself i n the experience on the stage and yet detach himself suf f ic ient ly to assess i t as a work of art . He derives grat i f icat ion both from the empathy he can establish with the actor as a momentarily rea l person i n a l i f e - l i k e action and from a c r i t i c a l observation of the feat of acting. Within the play '8 structure, we have already seen how conf l ict emerges from a tension of po lar i t ies . It i s important to examine how the ideas of dual ity, polar ity, and conf l ict are interrelated. The 3 relationship hinges on the dist inct ion we can make between the twin factors of a dual pr inc ip le. (It goes without saying that a d ist inct ion i s possible, as otherwise there i s no jus t i f i ca t ion for the existence of the duality.) Now, any dist inct ion i s l i ab le to sharpen into a contrast; and, as the contrast intens i f ies , the dual factors emerge as the absolutes of a polarity,and conf l ict arises. This, i n short, i s what i s achieved by d ia lec t i ca l speculation. But In drama the dia lect ics i s given a c ircular form by the operation of irony,which reveals the self-contradictory nature of the conf l i c t . In his book Irony and Drama. Bert 0. States discusses the ro le of irony i n causing the convergence of opposed courses: In the world of drama, acts do not simply produce further acts (or history); they tend to produce counteracts; as Hamlet, i n slaying Polonlus, inadvertently sets up the conditions for his own death by provoking an avenger who i s precisely lacking i n his own scruples. Thus, the extreme potential i ty of the dramatic situation Is the promise of a paradox in the making, and the secret of drama'8 appeal l ies precisely in the unfolding of this paradox. The creation of a dramatist l i ke Genet i s i t s e l f a paradoxical process. The ar t i s t wishes to secure his identity In l i f e and creates his work for this purpose. But i n choosing an art form that ref lects his views, he i s moving from the dynamism of rea l l i f e to i t s opposite, the f i x i t y of art , which i s a kind of death. Again, i n integrating the theatrical element with the dramatic, the playwright exploits the se l f -contradictory aspects of the opposition of rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . Genet, for instance, remarks on the indist ingulshabi l ity of rea l i ty and I l lus ion i n The Balconyjwhere real l i f e i s declared to be as false as stage i l l u s i on . 4 At the highest level of d i f ferent iat ion, the opposites of a polarity lose their identit ies and merge. Genet's masterly use of dramatic i l l u s i on re l ies on this quality of dual-polar elements. The action of duality and polarity in a play i s pervasive. Their significance i n plot i s seen as peripety or a reversal i n situation which, according to Ar i s tot le , i s a necessary feature of a good, complex plot. The shift i n the action i s usually in a direction opposite to the orig inal and the dramatic potential of this has already figured in the discussion of irony. The idea of polar ity i s also i n evidence i n the characterization as in the action since i t i s central to conf l i c t , external or internal. This could be a conf l ict of opposing wi l l s or the conf l ict between the protagonist's w i l l and the environment. Again, i n the characterization, duality and polarity enable the dramatist to achieve complementation and contrast. Characters could be distinguished as opposites or a l l i e s on the basis of b io log ica l t ra i t s which establish their ident i t ies as male or female; by physical t ra i t s which refer to fac ia l features, mannerisms, etc; by dispositional t ra i t s which indicate their emotional propensities*, and by their motivations. Since the theme of a play i s organically related to i t s action, the idea of polarity which engenders the conf l ict of the action enters the theme also. The theme of the play takes into condideration the forces in conf l i c t , views them as value po lar i t ies , and examines which force wins and why. In Genet's plays the themes often establish a d ia lect ica l relationship between opposites, revealing them as mutually dependent or inclusive. 5 As a play gains the stature of drama only after i t i s realized in performance, the staging deserves special mention. Duality and polarity are incorporated i n the staging by several means - by means of contrasting actors and their performance; by the physical levels of the stage on which the action takes place; through contrasting and complement-ary costumes; by the contrast between masked and unmasked characters; by contrasted l ighting of different characters or areas of the stage and a variety of sound effects, either the human voice contrasted with animal or Instrumental sounds or variations within each category. Duality and polarity function in the language of drama through differences i n the vocabulary of the characters, contrasting images, tonal dist inct ions, and different speeds and pitches of enunciation. Polar i t ies evolve in Genet's plays often in the Hegelian pattern of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Duality and polarity are underlying features of Genet's thought. As drama of revolt, his plays condemn middle ways and deal in extremes. They accept no compromise with the bourgeois world they attack. Consequently, they picture the conf l ict of po lar i t ies -the bourgeois world and Genet's. Genet's revolt consists not merely in rejecting the aesthetics and ethics of the world around him but also in setting up his own system of values. But the world order he projects i s not entirely new, being a mirror image of the order he condemns. Neither i s i t possible for him to conceal the established set of values from which his own originates. And so we have the duality of his creative v is ion which pictures the two conf l ict ing aspects of every issue in l i f e . Genet would l ike to reject 6 the society whose restr ict ions he hates, but he i s also fascinated by i t and, as an a r t i s t , he has to confront i t and describe i t to others. I ronical ly, the society he defied in his vocations of thieving and writing has heaped i t s honours upon him. The love-hate relationship he has towards society Is reflected in the similar polarity of his rebel heroes' attitudes. Genet's theatre of doubles depicts the conf l ict between dominative and defensive characters, between male and female, i l lusion.and rea l i t y and other opposed principles. But a l l these conf l ict ing elements are contained i n the duality of the human psyche and in the theatre which i s i t s metaphor. This i s the schism between the conscious and the unconscious levels of human existence. The f i r s t , also known as the Self, i s that aspect of ourselves which we show to the world and of which we are ourselves aware. It i s i n harmonjr with the social order. The Unconscious level of our existence i s fascinated by those regions of experience which are taboo, by the elements which are considered ugly and ev i l by the world. Genet explores the innermost depths of the Self and comes up with the entirely opposite features of the Other, which i s deliberately repressed because i t epitomizes the traits that violate accepted social values. His contention i s that the Other i s part of the Self, i n fact i t i s the rea l Self, while the familiar Self i s only an i l l u s ion . The concept of duality and polarity In this context i s central to Genet's imagination. This thesis purports, f i r s t of a l l , to study the use of duality and polarity as dramatic and theatrical strategy i n Genet's major plays. It Is interesting to consider the function of duality and polarity i n 7 contributing to the a r t i s t i c composition of the plays and in e l i c i t i n g audience response to situations and characters. Secondly, the thesis investigates the establishment of the synaesthesis between the opposites and thereby tr ies to resolve the meaning of the plays. Lastly, i t considers the social and ethical implications of the conf l ict of opposites that have a bearing on the l i f e of the Individual, the family and society at large. With these objectives in mind, I have l i s ted four polar i t ies which i t i s my intention to study. The reason for choosing only four i s that^ although dual and polar principles prol i ferate endlessly in Genet's plays, these four dominate his thought as the basic polar i t ies that govern human existence. They are (1) l iv ing and dying, (2) I l lus ion and rea l i ty , (3) love and hate, and (4) anarchy and order. Only the three major plays of Genet - The Balcony, The Blacks , and The Screens - have been selected for analysis. The reason i s that there i s a fu l le r dramatic development i n these which i s absent in the early plays. They show evidence of the mature Genet who has formulated his ideas with more conviction. The frame of reference for the action, too, i s more comparable in the last plays, being a p o l i t i c a l revolution in each case. An analysis of the elements of action, characterization, theme, language and staging has been done in each play in order to examine the treatment of each set of polar it ies as completely as possible. The aim i s to establish the correlation between the concept and execution of Genet's ideas by studying how these ideas have been translated in every aspect of the play's structure. It i s also to investigate the dramatic and theatrical potentials of the conf l ict of opposites and to study 8 actor-spectator relations. Each set of opposites has been dealt with i n a separate chapter. The organization of the theses posed a number of problems. F i r s t l y , there was the problem of overlapping. It has not been possible always to separate the different elements of the plays' structures t i d i l y . At certain points, for instance, the action i s character. Again, the polar i t ies themselves are so closely linked that the grounds they cover overlap frequently. At some point, the discussion of each set of polar i t ies returns to the basic conf l ict between i l l u s i on and rea l i t y . To take the example of a specif ic play, the central action of the Blacks i s very closely t ied up with two seta of po lar i t ies , l i v ing and dying as well as i l l u s i on and rea l i t y , which themselves bear close a f f i n i t i e s . In order to avoid the tedium of repetit ion, the f i r s t chapter mentions the fact that i n The  Blacks both l iv ing and dying are i l lusions,but their i l lusory qualify has been accorded detailed treatment only i n Chapter II. A second problem has been the geometry of opposition, for the polar i t ies are not diametrically opposed always. The opposites in each set envelop each ohher. Consequently, they have been defined as principles with oppositional functions,but their complementary nature, and, where possible, their oneness, have been pointed out. Lastly, the text of the plays and Genet's letters written in connection with their production gave r i se to the question whether the orig inal French texts or their translations i n English should be used for quotes. The arrangement of ideas in this work requires frequent quotes from Genet's plays and I was rather reluctant to use so many French passages in a thesis written in English. For this reason, and also because I 9 cannot claim a very deep scholarship i n the French language, I have used the translations of the plays by Bernard Frechtman, which are very close to the or ig ina l . However, the French has bean retained in Genet's letters and in the excerpts from the c r i t i c a l reviews of his plays. The choice of Frechtman's translations was made easier by the fact that they retain the essential poetic beauty of Genet's language. The theatre of Genet,which restores drama to i t s or ig inal roots of r i t u a l , achieves the reconci l iat ion of discordant elements by means of the dual factors of language and spectacle. This thesis endeavours to study the contribution of both these elements i n the performance of ceremony and r i t u a l . The plays of Genet def in i te ly reveal his awareness of the duality of the dramatic experience and his s k i l l i n integrating i t s twin facets. NOTES  INTRODUCTION Quoted by John Gassner, Directions in Modern Theatre and Drama ( New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston 1967) p. 208. Bert 0. States, Irony and Drama (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press*, 1971) p. 227. 11 CHAPTER I  LIVING AMD DYING A l l the plays of Genet reveal a preoccupation with l i f e and death, so i t i s logical to begin a work of this kind with a discussion of these facts pertaining to the human condition. In his treatment of the phenomena of l i f e and death, Genet depicts them both as integrated factors and even goes so far as to say that the seeming opposites are rea l ly one and the same. While making this paradoxical revelation, he also equates this set of opposites with another set whose components are similarly indistinguishable: rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . The development from separation to synthesis of the opposites occurs in clear stages in the structure of The Balcony and The Blacks. The action of these plays depicts the l i f e and death struggle of r i v a l camps. Living and dying seem to be very dist inct and opposed processes. At the same time the spurious nature of the dist inct ion i s suggested by placing the action on the tenuous ground between rea l i ty and i l l u s ion . Hence, In the f i na l analysis, l i v ing and dying seem to be as indistinguishable as rea l i ty and i l l u s ion . The next step i s from the ambiguity of the two opposites to their integration,which Is spec i f ica l ly achieved in the characterization. In both The Balcony and The Blacks, there are characters who are personifications of the l i fe-death synthesis. In the Screens, however, the technique i s s l ight ly di f ferent, the characterization as well as the staging being 12 aimed at showing the location of the opposites in each other's terr i tory. Thus the l iv ing bear the paraphernalia and accoutrements of the dead and vice versa. The themes of the plays elucidate the Interrelation of • l iv ing and dying by viewing death as a continuity rather than as a cessation. Related themes l ike procreation and regeneration are also incorporated into the actions of the plays. The language of the plays l inks diverse phenomena such as l i f e , death, power and glory. In The Balcony, dying i s g lor i f ied as an act superior to l i v ing . It i s a phase of c i v i l i z a t i on alternating with l iv ing In The Blacks.Dying i s an inescapable condition of matter,as i s l i v ing , in The Screens. As bef i ts this variety of delineations of l i f e and death, the imagery of the twin subjects ranges from the splendid to the squalid. The Balcony, which i s the f i r s t of the three major plays of Genet, has the l i fe-death polarity functioning at a l l levels of i t s structure. Its action la set in the po l i t i c a l framework of a revolution. The rebels are out to destroy the established order which i s represented by The Grand Balcony, Madame Irma's brothel. The Balcony i s a "storehouse 1 of mummeries", turning out the images of the Establishment in great numbers, as men from different walks of l i f e here act out their fantasies of being high ranking off icers of the state. Such ardent imitation denotes acceptance. Hence, by creating these images of power, the Balcony serves the Establishment. The revolutionaries, on the other hand, have vowed to destroy the society bui l t on sham elements and symbols and this means the breaking 13 of the images created by the Balcony. The kernel of the play's action i s thus a l i f e and death struggle between the Balcony and the rebels. The situation, when we look at i t closely, i s fraught with irony. Images, being fixed and stat ic things, are the very opposite of the dynamic forces of l i f e . The actions of the Balcony's clients,who change themselves into images temporarily, could therefore be interpreted as a constant str iv ing for death. In the secret recesses of the bordello, men act but their fantasies of dying. In every studio of the Grand Balcony, there i s an impersonation of death. We see the victorious General who 'd ies ' on his 'war horse'; the brave legionnaire who 'd ies ' on a sand dune; and the res t , l i ke the Bishop and the Judge,who consider themselves dead when they play their roles. As the whore, Carmen, informs the rebel leader, Roger, later in the play, the scenarios of the Balcony are a l l reducible to one major theme, which i s death. I ronical ly, i t i s the revolutionaries who desire change and progress, although they appear to be death-bringers by their having precipitated a c i v i l war. The essence of l iv ing i s the dynamism of change and, by this token, the rebels become symbols of l i f e . The main conf l ict of the play, that between the Balcony and the rebels, i s highlighted by two subsidiary courses of action. Chantal, one of the prostitutes at Irma's House of I l lus ions, rebels against her status as an erotic symbol. Seeking to escape the passivity of an Image, she plunges into the active l i f e of the revolution, only to be trapped in inaction again. The rebels make her a singer at the barricades and transform her into yet another kind of image, a fet ish to boost their morale. Chantal's l i f e i s thus a progression from one death-like state to another un t i l she i s k i l l e d , and then her image i s perpetuated as a sa int ' s . As a contrast to Chanta1, the Chief of Police , who i s the real man of action in the play, wishes to exchange his position with that of an image. His one ambition in l i f e i s to have his function imitated in the bordello, but for a long time he i s disappointed. When, f i na l l y , Roger asks...to imitate him in Irma's studio, the Chief of Police i s elated. But Roger, b i t ter at the fa i lure of the Revolution, castrates himself i n a gesture of se l f punishment and thereby symbolically punishes the Chief of Pol ice. Yet the latter exults that he i s now "larger than large, stronger than strong, deader than dead (the emphasis i s mine)". Unlike Chantal, he more than real izes his dream by claiming the castration as his apotheosis. As Robert Brustein puts i t , "Mutilation i s the destiny of the Man-God, whether he be Christ, Osir is or Dionysius." By remaining whole while his image i s mutilated, the Chief of Police appears as the figure who unites within him the forces of l i f e and death. In passing, we have to consider the rea l deaths in the play, Arthur's and Chantal '8. Both are theatr ical ly very effective moments in the play. Arthur, who has been sent to contact the Chief of Pol ice, returns dishevelled after an unsuccessful attempt to reach the Police headquarters. He finds the Chief already with Irma and starts describing the general destruction and confusion in the c i t y , when a shot i s heard. A window pane and a mirror i n the room are shattered and Arthur f a l l s , h i t In the forehead by a bullet which has come through the window. It i s a tense moment for the audience,which remembers Arthur's ear l ier fear of going out in the streets where the fighting was thick. A person being k i l l ed suddenly i s a sensational incident on the stage and the audience tensely awaits the rest of the action. But in The  Balcony : i t i s a moment of anticlimax, as those around Arthur react to his death in the most- unemotional way possible. The Chief of Police does not even seem to notice that Arthur i s dead and goes on planning what he should do from within the brothel to crush the rebels. Carmen i s worried about her Saint Theresa's costume, in the event of the house being blown up next. Irma is the only one who i s a l i t t l e shaken,but even she i s concerned only with the safety of her studios and jewels. She orders Carmen to.remove the body, as she i s about to receive the Envoy. The incident shows that the pimp i s a dispensable cog in the machinery of the brothel. It also shows that a real death does not move these >« characters who are accustomed to the i l lus ions of death in the bordello on a dai ly basis. The same characters are profoundly disturbed when they talk of their symbolic deaths - when, for instance, the Chief of Police talks of his becoming an image in the Balcony.,when Carmen talks of her transformation for the bank clerk', and Irma, of her becoming the Queen. But the audience, which has sat back l istening to these inte l lectual accounts of their false deaths, i s startled by the real death on the stage, possibly because of the sheer physicality of the scene - the sound of the shot, of broken glass and the posture of the dead man. Chantal's death produces a similar effect on the audience. The scene i t s e l f Is very br ie f and Genet sets i t up careful ly, a r i s i n g the expectations of the spectators. We see the Balcony f i r s t and the closed shutters of the brothel. The shutters open suddenly and, through the windows, we see the Judge, Bishop and the General getting ready for their public, appearance. The french windows are then flung open and the three men, followed by the Hero or the Chief of Police step out on to the balcony. Madame Irma, now dressed as the Queen, enters, and she and the others show themselves to an imaginary crowd. Then a beggar enters below them, greets the Queen and goes away. Chantal next makes a striking entry and things happen rapidly after that: (F inal ly, a strong wind s t i r s the curtains. Chantal appears. The Queen bows to her. A shot. Chantal f a l l s . The General and the Queen carry her away dead.) (p.70) The whole action takes place as a dumb show. Suspense i s bu i l t up in the sudden opening of windows before the Queen and the others enter the balcony, and then again by the wind ruf f l ing the curtains before Chantal appears. The ringing sound of the shot cuts through the silence e lec t r i ca l l y and the tension of the spectators reaches a peak. Then, as in the case of Arthur's death, they see no v i s ib le signs of distress on the part of the other characters. Those on the balcony are gigantic and look unreal. They are s i lent and only make the gestures of l iv ing persons - mechanical gestures at that. The only spoken words are those of the beggar who i s seen immediately before Chantal, and, i ron ica l ly , his words are a blessing .af long l i f e for the Queen. Later on, we learn the po l i t i c a l implications of Chantal's death when we are told that i t was planned in advance by the Bishop, but at the moment our reaction Is almost wholly physical. What strikes us in the visual detai ls of the scene i s the proximity of death to l i f e . Genet's characterization in The Balcony makes ample use of -psychological obsessions about death. The death-wish of the cl ients who v i s i t the brothel i s mainly rooted in the desire for glory and the aspiration to immortality. Nearly a l l the customers of the brothel are insignif icant o f f i c i a l s drudging away at petty off ices. These men, who have no status in real l i f e , covet glory in a faked death. Thus the fake General envisages a grand death on the bat t le f ie ld : In a l i t t l e while, to the blare of trumpets, we Otthall descend - I on your back - to death and glory, for I am about to die. (p.26) The stasis of death i s equated with immortality. The Queen's Envoy who has come to ask Irma's help in projecting the Images of power to the populace comments on this when she shows him the corpse of her pimp, Arthur, who has been k i l l ed by gunfire: IRMA: His entire being i s speeding towards immobility. THE ENVOY: He was therefore meant for grandeur. THE CHIEF OF POLICE: Him? He was a spineless dummy. THE ENVOY: He was, l ike us, haunted by a quest of immobility. By what we c a l l the h ierat ic* . . . . (p.61) The Chief of Police himself dreams of attaining "providential f i x i ty ' 1 (p.65) within the nomenclature and he desires a tomb to be erected i n his honour, where he would "keep v i g i l over his entire death." (p.69) So great i s the number of men who play at being dead that Irma has a special Mausoleum Studio bu i l t in the brothel. Dying i s an ever renewed drama in the house of i l lus ions and yet. the Balcony i s a place where love-making, which Is a v i t a l affirmation of l i v ing , i s a f u l l time occupation. 18 The irony i s directed against whores and customers a l ike. The men come to assrt their v i r i l i t y but fantasize themselves into images of power and become "dead" beings. The whores who minister to them are referred to as Irma's "long, s ter i le g i r l s " (p.31).They, too, are dead i n the figurative sense, since they do not f u l f i l the essential l i f e -giving function of the female, that of procreation. One remembers i n this context that Roger,who rescued Chantal from the whorehouse,talks of having snatched her from a grave. The l i f e style of the characters of The Balcony follows two motif8. Irma*8 g i r l s and her "v i s i to r s " are engaged in a pursuit of death in l i f e , while the Chief of Pol ice, wishing d iv in i ty , pursues his goal of everlasting l i f e in death. The central theme we arrive at after grasping the interchangeablllty of the two opposite processes of l i v ing and dying i s that l i v ing i s dying. This Is the message implied by a l l the masquerades in the house of I l lusions. Living Is a process of constant role-playing, and as such, i s a mode of dying to ones true Identity and continuing i n terms of the image one creates. Benjamin Nelson^, commenting on the nature of ro le-playing, suggests that a l i fe-death union Is implied by i t . To assume a role i s to undergo a mortif ication since we have to suppress our true feelings. And yet, according to Genet, the only way we know to be rea l Is to assume one role after another. Nelson sums up the anomaly Inherent i n the process: Every role i s a release of v i t a l i t y ; yet every ro le, ?^ l ike every Image, i s a mortif ication. 5 Our most genuine attempts at l i v ing , then, are nothing more than an elimination of our true identit ies or, i n other words, a pursuit of tr ^ ' death. The second theme we discover by applying the l i fe-death polarity to the action of the play concerns the mortality of the individual as opposed to the permanence of the inst i tut ion he serves. This i s an elaboration of one aspect of the preceding theme, namely, the image. The individual attains permanence only when he becomes an image, the transformation into which may be effected by his physical death. The individual Is dispensable, but the Institution he represents, which, i s a symbol, i s not. The Queen may d ie, but the Crown l ives on. The Envoy, who understands the absolute rea l i ty of the Crown, i s not shattered by her majesty's death. "That phoenix, when dead, can r i se up from the ashes of the royal palace " (p.165) i s his prediction, and he declares that the Queen attains her rea l i ty when she absents herself or dies. The Balcony's theme also defines Art and L i fe as po lar i t ies . Genet preference of death over l i f e i n The Balcony i s rea l ly a matter of aesthetic judgement. Art , according to him, i s death, since i t is concerned with the creation of images which are s tat ic . The whore i s , for Genet, the ar t i s t par excellence since she l ives solely by appearances, constantly projecting images of herself and of her customers. Her function i s non-uti l itarian,as she i s neither a housewife nor a mother. As Roger points out to Carmen, the whore i s purely ornamental. She thus embodies the principles of Art (or beauty) of i l l u s ion and of death at once. Irma's House of I l lusions perpetuates Images, and, therefore, i s a museum of Art. S ignif icantly, i t i s also a house of death. I f Art i s death, i t s opposite, naturally, i s l i f e . L i fe i s dynamic while Art i s s tat ic and i t i s pract ical while Art i s aesthetic. But i f the superiority of a principle rests in the hardship encountered i n practising i t , then Art wins over l i f e . The slave In Irma's Mausoleum Studio sums It up when he t e l l s Roger, "we try hard just to stand and rot. And, believe me, i t ' s not always easy. L i fe t r ies to p reva i l . . . " (pp. 90-91). In the f ina l round of the contest between L i fe and Art, Art i s the v ictor. Irma reverts to her role as brothel madame after .a br ie f experience of the po l i t i c i an ' s active l i f e arid the Balcony's studios are once again prepared for the production of new Images. It i s Genet's plea for the acceptance of Art as superior to L i fe . In the staging of the play, the image of death i s careful ly reinforced. Both in the costumes and decor, there i s a touch of the austerity that one associates with a funereal atmosphere. Irma, at the beginning of the play, l a a severe figure dressed in black. In his notes 'Comment jouer Le Balcon', Genet even indicates that she could be in mourning: II va de sol que le costume d'Irma doit etre au bout de la piece, tres austere. On peut meme la supposer en deul l . C'est dans la scene avec Carmen qu 'e l le s ' a t t i fe ra , portera cette robe longue qui, dans la scene du Balcon deviendra, grace a quelques decorations, la robe de la Reine. The colours used i n the set are dark, again giving a serious i f not gloomy touch to the decor. In the scenes with the fake Bishop, Judge and General at the beginning of the play, the walls of the room are blood 21 red, brown, and dark green, respectively. One Is reminded of the works of the Dutch school of painting in the seventeenth century, where the s e colours predominate. The visual impact of the set Is l ike that of a Rembrandt painting in which the same colours are used to give a contrasted effect of l ight and shadow. At least in one scene, a real corpse, that of Arthur, i s la id out on a fake tomb of black marble. The aura of death i s complete i n the Mausoleum Studio Into which the Chief of Police descends to l i ve in death for two thousand years. The c ircular wall of the studio resembles a well i n the centre of which there i s another wel l . The impression of a vault or tomb Is emphasized by the laurel wreaths and crepe hung on the wal l . Thus austerity characterizes the scenery throughout, as we are taken through the solemnity of the Bishop's sacristy to the magnificent desolation of the Mausoleum. Contrasted with the sober detai ls associated with death are those that evoke thoughts of sumptuous l iv ing and carnal pleasures. Juxtaposed with the corpse and the tomb are Irma's laces, s i lks and crystal chandelier8. While the walls and the furniture of the studio in the f i r s t four scenes lend a note of decorum, the unmade bed reflected in the mirror in the same room proclaims the prostitute's trade. A similar effect i s achieved in the cc£rast between words and actions. While Irma talks to Carmen and Arthur about the war and people dying on the streets, she gets ready to greet her lover, the Chief of Pol ice. We get a v iv id Impression of sensuous l iv ing as she pirouettes slowly in front of the mirror, the pimp,on his knees, spraying her with perfume. 22 But overriding the visual impact of such scenes i s the sound effect produced by machine gun f i r e . It i s the rat- tat - tat of the guns at frequent intervals that sets the mood of the play. The sound functions organically in producing the total effect of the play, establishing death as the dominant principle i n the l i fe-death polarity scheme. In the st i l lness of the mauseleum, the sound of a cock crowing and a hammer % striking an anvil start les Roger who exclaims that l i f e i s so near the tomb. But i t i s only he who feels the proximity of l i f e . For the audience, the sounds only serve to underline the silence of the tomb. It i s the burst of gunfire that has the greater impact, reminding them constantly of the imminence and physical rea l i ty of death. The language of The Balcony i s another element that sets in r e l i e f the two principles of l i f e and death. The subject of death i s treated i n a l y r i c a l vein. Dying i s described as a sensuous experience, superior to l i v ing . While a prosaic and practical language characterizes the everyday act iv i t ies that constitute l i v ing , one i s struck by the poetic beauty of the descriptions of death. There i s a tremendous variety of adjectives and nouns employed in the language. "We'l l have a lovely death, Carmen," says Irma, and continues: It w i l l be terr ib le and sumptuous.... We have our cohorts, our armies, our hosts, legions, battalions, vessels, heralds, clarions, trumpets, our colours, streamers, standards, banners.... to lead us to catastrophe! Death? I t ' s certain death, but with what speed and with what dash!.. (p.39) In the second half of the play, the language dealing with the issues of l i f e and death becomes increasingly obscure and metaphorical. The 23 l i fe-death union in one's image i s spoken of repeatedly. The Envoy describes i t i n the form of riddles about the Queen and her embroidery. Carmen sums i t up more simply to Roger: H e ' l l (the slave) t e l l . . . the truth; that you're dead, or rather that you don't stop dying and and that your image, l ike your name, reverberates to i n f in i t y . (p. 92) In short, a review of a l l the aspects of The Balcony shows that observations on l iv ing and dying permeate the play; the dramatic technique shows the conf l ict of the opposites and then their coincidence. Coming to the second play, The Blacks, the treatment of the afore-mentioned opposites i s symbolic. Like the brothel 's customers in The  Balcony, the blacks fantasize a death, but their fantasy has the s inister import of murder. The main action of the play i s the supposed rape-murder of a white woman reenacted by Vi l lage, a black, with the help of fellow blacks. While he recounts his actions, another group of blacks executes a tra i tor to their cause off stage and the news i s brought to those on stage. It i s said that the enacting of the rape-murder i s a coverup for the ' r e a l ' action off stage. However, as spectators in a theatre, we know that the term ' r e a l ' i s suspect and that the dying on and off stage are both play acting by a group of actors. The on stage action of dying also has i t s corol lar ies of procreation and resurrection. Diouf, the black minister who i s transvested into Vi l lage 's white victim, gives ' b i r th ' to f ive dol ls which are seen to be the representatives of the white community. The action i s contra-dictory in I t se l f , since procreation i s the functional aspect of l i v ing 24 and yet the objects procreated are l i f e le s s . Soon after this extraordinary conception and delivery, Diouf i s k i l l e d by Vi l lage and, subsequently, he i s resurrected and ascends to the white 'heaven* - an event which comments on the f u t i l i t y of V i l lage ' s action. If Vi l lage hopes to eradicate the white race by his symbolic murder, the resurrection of Diouf s ignif ies the unattainabil ity of such a goal. The central action of V i l lage ' s murder has far reaching consequences. It escalates the opposition between the blacks and the whites and the stronger group wins the right to l i ve . The white Court comes down to the blacks' land to ' t r y ' them for the murder of the white woman. They come with the intent to k i l l but the tables are turned on them as the blacks assume control and summarily execute a l l the whites. Like the other deaths in the play, the death of the white Court i s also make-;:y© believe. It gives a cyc l i ca l form to the drama,as immediately afterwards the characters arrange themselves as they were at the beginning of the play and the whole episode starts afresh. The characters in The Blacks evince, by and large, archetypal qual it ies of the race they belong to. As a broad c lass i f i cat ion, we could consider the blacks as embodiments of energy and by extension, of l i f e , while the whites evincing lethargy are embodiments of death. But inl;the case of a few characters, the opposing principles of l i f e and death combine, as they do In the Chief of Police in The Balcony.^Diouf, by his act of producing progeny before his death, i s one such. He also unites in him-self the male and female principles. It i s the dominant female figure who holds in equilibrium the 25 conf l ict ing forces of l i f e and death. Lewis Cetta talks of the assertion of the matriarchal principle in The Blacks by Genet. 7 Attributes of the Mother figure whom Cetta ident i f ies with Earth are detected in three women in the play, F e l i c i t y , Virtue and the Queen. Of the three, i t i s Fe l i c i t y who typif ies the unity of l i f e and death ins istently. She describes herself as "Darkness i n person. Not the darkness which i s absence of l i ght , but the generous and terr ib le mother who embodies l ight a and deeds" (p.105). It i s Fe l i c i t y who, by her sorcery, ca l l s up the hordes of Blacks and sustains the fa i l ing courage of Vi l lage and the others, inc i t ing them to k i l l . She has already offered grains of corn for the white victims' sustenance. Signif icantly, i t i s she who nominates Diouf as V i l lage ' s victim and presides over his r i tua l dying. Fe l i c i t y thus personifies the l i fe-death integration seen as the propensity at once for preservation and destruction in the Mother figure. While the blacks are represented as a dynamic group, the whites are Identified with the stasis of death. They are the l iv ing dead, "the race without animal odours" (p.20) whose whiteness i s seen as the paHour of death. ' I t ' s not time that corrodes me,1 says the Queen to F e l i c i t y , ' i t ' s not fatigue that makes me forsake myself, i t ' s death that's shaping me...' FELICITY: I f you're death I tsel f , then why, why do you reproach me for k i l l i n g you? THE QUEEN: And i f I'm dead, why do you go on and on k i l l i n g me, murdering me oyer and over In my colour? Isn't my sublime corpse - which s t i l l moves enough ?:for you? Do you need the corpse of a corpse? (Emphasis mine) (p.103) The theme unfolded by the conf l ict of such complex characters i s f i t t i ng l y intr icate. The Blacks deals extensively with the l i fe-death 26 d ia lect ic of Time. T i m is relentless and destroys everything, consuming i t s e l f i n i t s passage, and i t s tyranny can be arrested only by Death. But as Time i s c yc l i c a l , i t also renews i t s e l f and phases of destruction are followed by regeneration in this never ending cycle. It i s the certainty of regeneration after destruction that gives the Queen the last word. As she i s being led to her death she prophesies that the whites would " l i e torpid in the earth l ike larvae or moles" (p.126) and r i se again in ten thousand years, when the fight for their, freedom would begin. Yet another theme dealt with in the play i s the indestruct ib i l i ty of rac ia l attributes. Diouf, by his social position and behaviour, has shown himself to be the white man's protege' - a fact that earns for him the role of the whites' Mother. But he i s resurrected after death, which shows that the effort to k i l l white attributes or to exterminate the entire race i s of no ava i l . Again, even after the corporeal death of the whites effected by execution, the blacks cannot erase their influence, as reflected by Vi l lage 's inab i l i ty to invent a 'black' language of love instead of copying the words and gestures of the whites. Genet re-emphasizes in The Blacks a point he has already made in The Balcony, namely, that the social institutions continue to l i ve while men may come and go. A theatrical dimension has been added! to the idea in the mock b i r th Diouf gives to f ive wooden dol ls which are the repl ica in miniature of the white Court above him. Soon after th i s , Diouf i s raped and k i l l ed by Vi l lage. The dol ls remain on the stage during the rest of the play, thereby intimating to the audience that 27 while Vi l lage may have massacred the whites symbolically, the domination of the inst itut ions organized by the whites w i l l be a l i v ing force i n black society. It should be remembered that in the wooden dol l s , as well as in the Court, the figures of the Queen, Governer, Bishop and Judge whom we have already seen in The Balcony reappear. The staging techniques used in The Blacks produce contrapuntal reflections on l iv ing and dying. Both at the beginning and at the end of the play the sombre visual impact of the catafalque with i t s association of death i s lightened by Mozart minuets. In the second Instance, the music Is the opening measures of the minuet from Don Giovanni. The choice i s very apt as one remembers the hero's love of sensual l i v ing -the minuet i t s e l f i s from the seduction scene which i l lustrates th is -and that death comes to the great sensualist i n the form of a terr ib le vengeance. In his choice of the Don Giovanni minuet, Genet shows an ingenious application of the law of opposites, as the form and content of the music i l l u s t ra te opposite processes involving the principles of 9 l i f e and death. As a contrast to th i s , Immediately before the r i t ua l murder, which i s the Blacks' vengeance on the Whites, a l l the characters around the victim intone their words to the stately measures of the Dies Irae - the Day of Wrath - which creates fearsome images of death. Again, when Diouf i s about to 'de l iver ' the f ive do l l s , Vi l lage ca l l s upon a member of the audience to come and hold the vict im's knitt ing. The spectator i s dismissed after the ' b i r t h ' , soon after which Diouf i s murdered. Since Genet intends the play to be performed spec i f i ca l ly for 28 a white audience, there i s already a subtle ident i f icat ion of the audience with the white Court whom the dol ls in turn resemble. The presence of the spectator on the stage ensures that a surrogate of the l iv ing audience i s present to witness the b ir th of the community's representatives and then the death of the race I tself. The perpetration of psychological cruelty, believed by Artaud to be the essence of theatre, i s complete.*® The execution of the Court by the Blacks is a piece of transparent play-acting. The ' k i l l i n g ' i s accompanied by the crowing of cocks, which presages the dawn of a new era^or the l i v ing . However, both k i l l i n g and dying are shown as mere 'stage business' by Vi l lage 's explanation to the dying Coutt about the exigencies of the script and the 'dead' whites promptly r i s ing to bow and acknowledge Diouf as their Mother. In keeping with the mood of the characters engaged In the r i t u a l , the language used by them i s also extremely powerful, suggesting an explosive energy which i s barely repressed. The whites, on the other hand, are repeatedly referred to as paleeand transparent and their language correspondingly i s almost anaemic. The imagery recal l s things of a l ight colour or ethereal quality. In response to F e l i c i t y ' s c a l l to her cruel hordes, the white Queen4ummons the guardians of her race: To the rescue, angel of the flaming sword, Virgins of the Parthenon, stained-glass of Chartres, Lord i - . / - . " Byron, Chopin, French cooking, The Unknown Soldier, Tyrolean Songs, Ar istotel ian principles, heroic couplets.... (p. 47) The c a l l seems to indicate that the achievements of the whites are a l l In the dead past. 29 The language employed by the blacks for the r i t ua l i s that of Incantation rather than spoken words. Dark images of death are invoked by Virtue and Snow in their chant and F e l i c i t y ' s c a l l to the African tribes i s strongly reminiscent of the language of exorcism: Tribes covered with gold and mud. r i se up from my hQ-body, emerge! . . . Conquered soldiers, enter. Conquering soldiers, enter.. . . Tou, too, who dig up corpses to suck the brains from skul l s , enter unashamedly. You tangled brother-sister, walking melancholy Incest, come in . Barbarians, barbarians, barbarians, come along. I can't describe you a l l , nor even name you a l l , nor name your dead, your arms, your ploughs, but enter. (pp. 76-77) The words conjure i» ; up very v iv id pictures of death. It i s language removed from day to day l i v ing , powerful enough to reach the dead in their realm. A noteworthy feature of the language of The Blacks i s i t s tremendous emotive potential. The blacks re ly heavily on the hypnotic effect of words to bring about the dissolution of their enemies. By ins istently repeating words related to physical exhaustion they brainwash the whites into believing that they are a dying clan. The whites, for their part, talk of the sense of physical oppression they get from a contact with the blacks. Thus the Queen talks of the blacks' odour 'choking' her, and when Fe l i c i t y describes the blacks' crime as a tree in bloom, she replies that the odour of the flowers spreads into her country and destroys her. The language which describes the reaction of the whites to the blacks i s thus very physical. While the whites show that they are mentally prepared for death, 30 the blacks identify themselves strongly with energy, growth and with things pertaining to l i f e . Even their potential for e v i l i s described as a l i v ing , growing force: . . . . i t ' 8 sprouting, sprouting, my beauty, i t ' s growing, bright and green, i t ' s bursting into bloom, into perfume, and that lovely tree, that crime of mine, i s a l l A f r ica ! Birds have nested in i t , and night dwells i n i t s branches. (p. 102) Both in the sheer beauty of the language and i t s emotive appeal, the blacks emerge superior to the whites. As the r i f t between them widens with the murder, the language ref lects the tension increasingly and sharpens the contrast as between the l iv ing and the dying. Aurally and pictorially,C%he language of The Blacks i s a match for the turbulent emotions of i t s characters. Turning from The Blacks to the Screens we come to a play where the conf l ict i s largely internal and concerns the mental states of the characters. The conf l ict assumes a sp i r i tua l or metaphysical dimension as both the l iv ing and the dead struggle to claim as their own. Said, the ascetic hero, who rejects them both i n his journey from Being to Non-being. This being the main l ine of action In the play, there Is much interaction between the l iv ing and the dead. Said and his wife Le i la between them commit a variety of crimes ranging from theft to treason which cuts them off from their fellow men. They then undertake a journey to 'the land of the monster'. In short, the two reject l i f e and court death. But death i s a goal only insofar as i t removes them from the bonds of the l i v ing . When It appears that the dead would impose their 31 norms of behaviour on Said, he defies them, preferring to enter a state of Non-being. The dead and the l iv ing display the same possessive attitude towards the anti-hero. Genet exploits, for dramatic effect, the spectators' awareness of l i f e and death as opposites. We carry this conventional notion regarding the two processes into the theatre. But, as we watch the dead in The  Screens revealing passions and weaknesses that are identical to those of the l i v ing , the real izat ion dawns on us that, far from being di f ferent, l i f e and death are similar. The main plot of The Screens thus u t i l i ze s the unity of opposites which i s Genet's tour de force. In the sub-plot of the brothel, Wardar the whore submits to death when she real izes that she i s no longer a unique being in society. Her professional pride i s destroyed when, after the war, prostitution Is recognized as a legal trade, thus stripping her vocation of Its mystery. For her, dying i s the answer when l iv ing becomes a problem. Genet uses the old technique of framing the entire action In a war, this time the French-Algerian war. The business of any war i s , of course, destruction and survival. Genet's emphasis, however, i s on the aesthetics of death which inspires the French. Urged by their mi l i tary commanders to shed blood, the men derive a physical pleasure from the act of k i l l i n g . As they get carried away i n considering the means of dying on the f i e l d , the outcome of the war i t s e l f becomes irrelevant to them. The irony of the mechanics of death distracting the instinct of survival i s Inherent in any war. Although the characters In The Screens are separated into the regions of the l iv ing and of the dead, there i s not too much of a difference between the two worlds. Here, again, the opposites perform a comple-mentary function. To the Arabs, death i s nothing uhusual but part of the general decay in which they l i ve their l ives. In the scene where the v i l lage women mourn the death of the rebel, Si Slimane, we see that the act of mourning i s a;matter of course with them. Said's mother comes to Join them but they chase her away as she i s the mother of a th ief . The selection of mourners i s thus a simple matter of social status. The Mother decides to ask for the dead man's approval. Speaking through Madani the Arab, who acts as his Mouth, Si Slimane- too rejects her. Such unusual occurrences as a dead man 'possessing' a l iv ing person and speaking through him are also accepted as part of the workaday world's routine. Kadidja, the leader of the v i l lage women, exhibits on the point of her death the same matter-of-fact attitude. She calmly gives ;i-.-. instructions as to how her body should be prepared for bur ia l . Living in the midst of p o l i t i c a l and economic erosion as they do, death seems nothing more to the Arabs than an extension of that erosion to their bodies. Said alone appears as the character who transcends l i f e and death. Poised between the l iv ing and the dead, he i s neither attracted by l i f e nor does he fear death. His strength i s his isolat ion and his freedom from emotional t ies . Compared with him, the l iv ing and the dead are both weak, unable to assess him objectively due to their affection for him. The dead come to adore him as do the l i v ing . He i s "larger than l i f e . . . Your brow in the nebulae and your feet on the ocean..." 1 1 The Screens outlines a rather unusual theme. The hero, Said, i s bent on self-destruction. By a deliberate choice of criminality he isolates himself from the l i v ing , and by pursuing negativity to i t s utmost and not for approval, even from the dead, he estranges himself from them. too. Such absolute freedom in l i f e ensures his l iberation into Nothingness in death, for, while the other characters are i n a kind of limbo after death, Said just disappears. 'L'Impossible n u l l i t e ' , which i s Genet's Utopia, Is a rea l i t y , he seems to say, only to those who i n their i so lat ion are absolutely free from conventions. The play also makes the statement that for others the social Inhibitions in which they were bound i n l i f e continue after death. In the famous scene where characters emerge through the white screens into the world of the dead, the Arabs and the French k i l l e d in the fighting below meet face to face. The Arabs tremble v io lent ly on seeing the Frenchcmen and i t takes them quite a while to rea l ize that Death i s the great equalizer. Spectacular devices i n staging transmit Genet's ideas on l i f e and death. The dead enter their world by breaking through white paper screens which s ignif ies that the transit ion from l i f e to death Is rea l ly simple. Genet wants the unity of the two opposites, l i f e and death, suggested in the costume and make-up. In his letter to Roger B l in , he stipulates, Je crois que les morts seront tres maquilles-mais le vert dondnera. Les vetements blancs, evoquant le sualre. Leur dict ion aura change7. E l l e sera plus proche du langage quot id ien 1 3 . 34 In juxtaposition to the white clothes of the dead, which are suggestive of the winding-sheet, their heavily made-up faces are to show predominantly green, the colour of l i f e and growing things. Their speech, too, i s closer to every day language. At the same time, i n theatrical tradit ion, the green colour evokes associations of death. The green on the actors' faces absorbs the colour of blood and dehumanizes them. The use of make-up thus has opposite effects in the tradit ional contexts of drama and theatre. The difference between the realms of the l iv ing and the dead i s made evident in the dead deliberately ignoring the log ical relations of time and space which are so important to the l i v ing . .The stage directions specify that the dead look up_ at things happening below them and look down when they see things happening above them. Since l i v ing and dying are seen as phenomena of the f lesh, they are described i n terms associated with the body. There i s a deliberate dwelling on images of f i l t h , decay and of the excremental aspects of the body. The pictures of death are often repulsive or v iolent. We hear of f l i e s swarming about a corpse , of the f luids from the corpse seeping away into the earth or of the blood and guts of those k i l l e d in battle drying in the sun. The same f l i e s and f i l t h are part of the Arabs' every day existence. What i s unusual about the language of The Screens i s that descriptions of anatomical decay and f i l t h are spoken with great r e l i s h , as though the speakers r o l l the words round their tongues. Acts of defecation and the neglect of the body are described in minute deta i l . Here i s a 35 typical example of the latter: And what's meant by going into mourning, gentlemen, i f not to make oneself ugly? To cover oneself with crape, with ashes, with mud, with f l i e s , with cow dung, to let one's beard grow, to let f i l t h accumulate in the folds of the skin, to pluck out one'8 eyes, to scrape one's fingers, what's meant by going into mourning, gentlemen? (p.133) Apart from the shock value of such descriptions, the language of The Screens aims at showing the ugly and repugnant aspects of l i f e as inescapable. Man's physical nature includes the excretary function which i s a necessary part of l i v ing and anatomical decay i s inevitable in his death. While the tradit ional attitude i s to ignore the unpleasant aspects of l i f e and death, Genet not only aims at an acceptance of them, but $, even exalts them by his use of language. In the last three plays of Genet, the theme of l i f e and death intertwines with that of i l l u s i on and rea l i t y , which w i l l be dealt with i n deta i l i n the next chapter. A l l three plays stress the oneness of l i f e and death. Both The Balcony and The Screens present the idea that death i s the continuity of l i f e while The Blacks pictures death as the or ig in of l i f e . The l i fe-death duality controls human existence, yet the ordinary man chooses to al ign himself with the f i r s t of these principles alone, because he looks upon the second, death, as something unpleasant. Genet tr ies to grant recognition to this important but neglected principle by stressing i t s unity with l i f e . This much for the ordinary man. But Genet's super man l i ke Said divests himself of a l l human associations, including consciousness of l i f e and death. His v is ion i s i n f i n i t e , since i t sees beyond l i f e and death and, i n Genet's scheme of opposites, It i s also nothing. That Is why Genet refers to The  Screens as " l a celebration de r i e n " 1 * , a celebration of nothing. NOTES CHAPTER I 1. The phrase i s Benjamin Nelson's. See B. Nelson,'The Balcony and Parisian Existential ism!, Tulane Drama Review. Spring 1963, p.72. 2. This and other passages from the play quoted in the Thesis are taken from The Balcony, translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman( New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1960). Pagination of the quoted passages w i l l be given hereafter parenthetically, i n the body of the text. 3. Robert Brustein, The Theatre of Revolt (Boston: L i t t l e , Brown & Co.J 1964) p.401. 4. A function can become a symbol only when i t i s detached from the l iv ing identity which defines i t . In other words, the symbol i s dead which makes i t sacred. The Bishop admits that his dignity i s not the result of his personal endeavour but the sanction of a long l ine of bishops who preceded him and who are now dead. 5. Benjamin Nelson, 'The Balcony and Parisian Existential ism', Tulane  Drama Review. Spring 1963, p. 61. 6. Jean Genet, 'Comment Jouer Le Balcon', Le Balcon (Edition def in i t ive L'arbalete,1960), p.8. 7. Lewis T. Cetta, Profane Play. Ritual and Jean Genet ( University of Alabama Press, 1974), pp. 62-69. 8. This and subsequent passages quoted from The Blacks are from the translation into English by Bernard Frechtman (Hew York: Grove Press Inc., 1960). 9. It i s the statue of his foe -an image- that comes a l ive to k i l l Bon Juan. The process of i t s transformation from death to l i f e i s the opposite of the one described by Genet as the function of Art - the change from l i f e to death. A l l the whores and power symbols in his plays who shape themselves into images are caught up in this process. 10. Roger B l in differentiates between Artaud's cruelty and Genet's by comparing the former with the rel igious cruelty of the Aztec Indians and the latter with the c lass ica l cruelty of the Greek theatre. This d ist inct ion seems to be too f ine. Artaud's outlook i s influenced by a l l ancient cults and his concept of cruelty as ' a kind of r i g id control and submission to necessity' i s closer theatre to the Greek/than to anything else. Genet shares Artaud's contempt towards tradit ional western drama and his admiration of Oriental theatre. Both men relate their myths t o a world of dark, sexual freedom. Both believe that the sens ib i l i ty of the spectator should be attacked on a l l sides , but there i s one essential difference between them. Artaud claims a therapeutic value for his r i t u a l exorcism of the spectator's fantasies. He does not advocate Sadism or violence in dal ly l i f e . Genet, on the other hand, not merely shows but exalts crime in his theatre and jus t i f ie s his own.perversions. His cruelty, therefore, does not turn - as Artaud puts i t - 'on the preoccupation of the great mass of men' and seems to be a vicarious indulgence of his personal d i s l ike of the bourgeois world in which he is an outcast. 11. This and subsequent passages quoted from The Screens are from the translation inte English by Bernard Frechtman ( Mew York: Grove Press. Inc., 1962). 12. See Robert Brustein, The Theatre of Revolt ( Boston: L i t t l e , Brown & Co. 1964), p. 384. 13. Genet, Lettres a Roger B l in (Editions Gallimard, 1966),p. 20. 14. Genet, Ibid., p. 15. 40 CHAPTER II  REALITY AMD ILLUSION The three last plays of Genet orchestrate a theme which has persistently fascinated him: the ambivalence of rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . At different levels in these plays, the opposites confront each other as essence and appearance, figure and image or identity and function. The Balcony, for instance, treats the relat ion between rea l i ty and i l l u s ion in terms of image, function and identity. Both in the action and characterization of this play, every step of the d ia lect ic between rea l i ty and i l l u s i on i s argued out. The events, characters, and the language of the play i l l u s t ra te the separable nature of a person's identity and function and then show the lnterpenetratlon of the two aspects. But the d ia lect ic i s developed on the l ines of an inte l lectua l debate and appears very complex. I n The Blacks, on the other hand, the complex inter-re lat ion of rea l i ty and i l l u s i on i s so blended into the play's structure that i t i s automatically implied by the action and the characters, and this works better. Here, the action, characterization and staging techniques strike a balance between the subjective dichotomy of essence and appearance and the external interplay of i l l u s i on and rea l i ty . The Screens treats the opposites in the metaphysical context and focuses on yet another facet of their conf l ic t - the relat ion between the conscious and the unconscious regions of existence referred to as the Self and the Other. The tension of these opposites i s present in 41 the other plays as well but It i s exp l i c i t l y formulated i n action and characterization only in The Screens, A l l the plays deal with characters who are caught in a rea l i t y -oriented world and who escape i t s insufficiency in fantasy. Thus the petty o f f i c i a l s of The Balcony play at being the "grands bourgeois", 1 the blacks play at being powerful whites and the abject poor of The  Screens pretend to be farm owners. But the dividing l ine between i l l u s i on and rea l i ty i s so fine that i t i s quite d i f f i c u l t to say where exactly one ends and the other begins in the plays. The staging and language of these plays are also designed to reinforce the spectator's sense of ambiguity concerning the i l lusory world of the theatre and his world of rea l i ty outside.. At the outset of the action of The Balcony we are made aware of the interpenetratlon of rea l i ty and i l l u s ion . The Grand Balcony i s the "most a r t f u l , yet the most decent house of i l l u s i ons . " (p.39) By means of the impersonations within i t s walls, i t preserves the social inst i tut ions. The revolutionaries, on the other hand, are enemies of a l l that i s i l lusory and wish to found a society based on absolute truth. Hence, at a f i r s t glance, the war between the Balcony and the rebels seems to be the war between I l lus ion and rea l i ty . But the Balcony's business Is the creation of images and Genet's argument i s that a function gains authenticity only when i t i s elevated to the status of a symbol. It Is for.this reason that the Chief of Police who has the power of action seeks to transform himself Into an Image. The rebels, too, who had believed that they could do without the I l lus ion of grand symbols and gestures, 42 find that they need a supreme symbol to win the war. Their dependence on Chantal, the whore turned saint, proves the indispensability of i l lus ions . As the paradox prol iferates through the play's action, i t becomes increas-ingly d i f f i c u l t to discern which of the camps represents rea l i ty and which I l lus ion. The barriers between the two worlds dissolve when, according to the instructions of the Queen's Envoy, Irma assumes the of f ice of the Queen and the fake Bishop, Judge and General of the brothel accept the places of their namesakes i n the real world. Once these people become the power figures whose mere appearances they had taken previously, the insurrection i s quickly put down. The populace needs to see a Queen, a Bishop and a Judge. The fact that the real Queen and her off icers are dead and that these are impostors does not penetrate i t s cognizance. The whole episode, elucidating, the interpenetration of rea l i ty and I l lus ion, makes the point that in the social context., power i s based on i l l u s i on . Once Irma's c l ients become power symbols, they are faced with a dilemma. They are symbolic figures and automatically go through the gestures and poses that are associated with such symbols. This i s what they do in the ceremonial procession. But they are also symbols of power and power must act. The i l lu s ion ' of action ( i . e . , movement which suggests l i f e ) which emanates from the image has to give place to the rea l i t y of the p o l i t i c a l responsibi l i ty. The Bishop, Judge and General now start wielding power in earnest, each introducing reforms in his specif ic f i e l d of act iv i ty . The Bishop voices the concern of the three power figures when he moans to the Chief of Police: 43 ...We're now tied up with human beings, t ied to you, and forced to go on with this adventure according to the laws of v i s i b i l i t y . (p. 79) The only way to stem the terr ib le power of a symbol which stops being a stat ic i l l u s i on and starts acting in rea l i t y i s to withdraw i t from the eyes of the populace and make i t a pure image reflected ad infinitum i n a mirror in solitude. As Richard Goe puts i t , The ultimate perfection of a power symbol i s one which has only the appearance of a purpose, and has f i na l l y abandoned i t s vocation to function i n rea l i ty . It i s a power symbol which i s s ter i le . . . which brings us back to the Grand Balcony, the Brothel, with i t s s te r i l e whores and i t s s te r i l e mirrors, to which, amid the devastation of the play's end, the various characters return. 1 2 The performancesat the bordello take the form of r i tua l s . The ceremonies range from a confession to the coronation of the King of France. In this connection, mention must be made of Genet's bel ief i n the efficacy of r i t ua l and ceremony as a means of communion. For him, the highest form of ceremony i s the Mass: Beneath the familiar appearances - a crust of bread - a god Is devoured. I know of nothing more theatr ical ly effective than the elevation of the host. 3 Neither the experience of the believer who sees only the body of Christ i n the Eucharist nor that of the sceptic who sees only a piece of wafer i s complete. The former grasps only the symbol and the latter only the substance. The truly profound experience i s to be aware of both at once and believe i n the rea l i ty of each separately. Genet's mysticism derives basical ly from this rel igious experience. It i s also, according to him, 44 the principle of a l l true theatre. Actor and spectator share a moment of communion when both are aware of the transformation of actor into character. Just as the wil led susceptibi l i ty of the believer transforms the piece of bread into the symbol of a more hallowed thing, the wi l l ing suspension of d isbel ief on the part of the spectator accords to the character i t s contextual rea l i ty . According to Richard Coe, such a transformation by fa i th (both in a rel igious sense and in dramatic terminology) can take place only in an atmosphere of Intense emotion - of hatred in particular. The three elements that trigger off vast reserves of hatred are, according to Coe, sex. po l i t i c s and rac ia l antagonism. The Blacks uses a l l the three elements in an interrelated fashion and i s therefore e lectr ic in i t s appeal. The Balcony confines i t s e l f to the f i r s t two. The principle of mystic experience operates within the structure of the action as wel l , in the r i tua l s of the Balcony. Each of the impersonators believes in the transcendental rea l i ty of the Figure he imitates or def i les . Yet each i s also aware that his own connection with that Figure i s an i l l u s i on . For the I l lus ion to be perfect, Irma never permits her g i r l s to smile, for "a smile means doubt" (p. 30). The dual impact of the r i t ua l explains the c l ients ' insistence on the one authentic and the one spurious deta i l i n the scenario. The action of the play pushes the characters from i l l u s i on into rea l i t y and back again into i l l u s i on . It i s interesting to note that as the Bishop, Judge and General step out of their fantasy world into the rea l one, their images are etched on f i lm indel ib ly. The mirrors of the House of I l lusions which dominate the scene at the beginning of the play are replaced by photographs which are supposed to record rea l i ty . But the young men who take the photographs are special ists in i l l u s i on . They suggest to the Three Figures the c lass ica l poses and fac ia l expressions which they should adopt in order to appear as models of devotion, righteousness or authority as the case may be. The f i r s t photographer settles the Bishop in an attitude of prayer; the second one asks the Judge to be "horselike and sul len" (p. 73) and the third man Improvises a paper baton for the General to strike the pose of Wellington. Photographic rea l i ty thus requires a lot of i l lus ions . As the second photographer t e l l s the Judge, "A good photographer i s one who gives a def in i t ive image." (p. 73) A l l the characters in The Balcony are faced with a choice between i l l u s i on and rea l i ty . Right at the beginning, the customers at the brothel f ind in i t s i l lus ions the t h r i l l s they miss in rea l l i f e . The characterization reveals psychological insight, for i t i s the small men of the world l ike the gas man, the bank clerk and the plumber who impersonate the big figures of the social inst i tut ions. While to i l ing at their insignif icant of f ices , they, l ike Walter Mltty, have dreams of power, which are b r ie f l y realized in the House of I l lusions. While the masquerades of the customers are a periodic escape from rea l i t y , those of the whores i s a total rejection of the same. Carmen, who i s Irma's confidante, i s torn between her affection for her daughter and her l i f e as a prostitute. Playing the Immaculate Virgin for the bank clerk, she has experienced, in the i l l u s i on , a state of 46 purity unattainable to her. I f she decided to go back to her daughter, she would have to give up such beautiful i l lus ions and resume contact with rea l i t y . Carmen's l i f e i s so rooted in appearances that the serious implications of real l i f e simply elude her grasp. Irma te l l s her that the rebels might bring about a reform in the l ives of the harlots. IRMA.: . . . . They' 11 marry you off. Would you l ike to get married? CARMEN: Orange blossoms, t u l l e . . . . IRMA: Wonderful. To you getting married means masquerading. Darling, you certainly are one of us. (p. 39) We are not surprised when Carmen :chooses the l i f e of i l lus ions and remains with Irma. Two of the characters figure as opposites In the choice between rea l i t y and i l l u s i on . For the Chief of Police i t i s a choice between his identity as a man exercising power and his function detached from that identity, which would be a symbol. He wishes to dissolve his identity in the symbol, but i ron ica l ly his wish comes true only when Roger, the avowed enemy of a l l symbols, i s defeated in his quest of rea l i ty and plays the role of the Chief of Pol ice. But Roger punishes himself for elevating the function of his adversary by castrating himself. The act Is a symbolic destruction of his own identity as well as his enemy's. Thematlcally, the d ia lect ic between i l l u s ion and rea l i t y could be amplified into several statements. F i r s t l y , i l l u s i on and rea l i ty in thier oppositional characteristics are Identified with the polarity of l i f e and death. It Is significant that Irma's House of I l lusions i s also a mausoleum. The characters' preference for i l l u s ion over rea l i ty i s 47 tantamount to a preference of death over l i f e . In choosing to be images of the Balcony, they opt for a death-like stasis in the place of movement and l i f e . This explains why Irma herself, when she i s about to play the role of the Queen, takes leave of the Chief of Police, her lover, as though she i s going to her death. The d ia lect ic brings into sharp r e l i e f the frightening aspect of rea l i ty as opposed to the pleasing effects of i l l u s i on , when the Bishop and his peers of the Balcony have to accept the responsibi l i ty of their off ices in earnest, they mourn the loss of "the delicious untroubled" state of i l l u s i on (pp. 79-80). Fantasy affords pleasure only because, for a l l i t s appearance of rea l i t y , i t remains make-believe. While the customers at the bordello act out their fantasies with the props necessary to furnish the scenes with an a i r of authenticity, they ins ist on the one false deta i l i n the scene which would reassure them that the roles they play are assumed and not rea l . Thus, while the gas man would have the studio furnished l ike a Bishop's sacristy, he also has his working clothes in the room to remind him of the I l lusory nature of his ro le. "If your sins were r e a l " , he t e l l s the harlot who poses as the penitent, "they would be crimes, and I'd be in a fine mess." (p. 10) The disparity between i l l u s i on and rea l i ty i s also that between identity and function, as mentioned ear l ier . Function, isolated from identity, i s only an appearance. Irma voices a l l the characters' preference for undiluted i l l u s i on over rea l i ty when she te l l s Carmen what a judge, general and bishop are in real l i f e : 48 l a rea l l i f e they're props of a display that they have to drag in the mud of the real and commonplace. Here, Comedy and Appearance remain pure, and the Revels intact. (p. 36) That, i n the social context, power i s based on i l lus ions i s elucidated i n the scene with the photographers. The three dignitaries are made to assume poses and gestures intended for mass-consumption and the photographers have no qualms in deluding the public. Thus, the 'host' which the Bishop i s seen receiving in the picture i s , i n rea l i t y , the General's monocle, borrowed for the occasion , and the General's baton i s only a piece of paper ro l led up. Both the decor and the costumes used in the play direct our attention to the contiguity of rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . The costume incorporates ideas from Greek tragedy. An i l l u s i on of grandeur i s created by the impersonators at the brothel who wear cothurni to give them extra height and padded shoulders to exaggerate their g i r th. Stripped of these aids at the end of the scenes, they appear as very ordinary, run-of-the-mil l actors. As for the decor, mirrors and movable screens are used to convey a sense of unreality. In the f i r s t three scenes, a large mirror in the room ref lects an unmade bed "which, i f the room were arranged log ica l ly , would be in the f i r s t rows of the orchestra" (p. 7). The walls of the room are movable cloth screens which, with different colours, represent different studios in the brothel. A further level of unreality i s reached i n the fourth scene and our attention i s more ins istently drawn to the ambiguity of the two states of rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . The stage directions 49 indicate that the three walls of the room are three mirrors. The occupant of the room i s a l i t t l e old man, dressed as a tramp, whose actions reveal his nervousness. The stage directions at this point are: A l l the gestures of the l i t t l e old man are reflected in the three mirrors. (Three actors are needed to play .the roles of the reflections.) (p. 28) The mirror8, which are symbols of i l l u s i on , are doubly i l lusory here, as they are not mirrors, at a l l . By rejecting the more convenient method of employing rea l mirrors and by substituting actors for the mirror-reflections, Genet strengthens our sense of ambivalence between rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . The use of the mirrors makes voyeurs of us a l l . i n addition, as we watch the play-acting in each room along with Irma,who watches i t through her special viewing apparatus. Just In case we feel smug about watching a false spectacle from the security of our real world, we are told by Irma , as she turns off the l ights, that our world i s more unreal than the theatre: ....You must now go home, where everything -you -v-M' can be quite sure- w i l l be falser than here. . . . (p. 96) Even the actors, according to Genet's instructions, are not to keep the two states of i l l u s i on and rea l i t y d i s t inct . The audience i s to be l e f t in a state of uncertainty concerning the genuineness or fakery of the feelings of the characters and the precise locale of the action: Les sentiments des protagonistes, inspire's par l a s ituation, sont- l l s fe ints , sont- i l s reels? La colere,^vers la f i n de la piece, du Chef de l a Police a l'egard des Trois Figures, est -e l le feinte, est -e l le reelle? L*existence des revoltes est dans le bordel, ou au dehors? II faut tenir 1'equivoque jusqu'a la f in* * In keeping with this general sense of ambivalence, the language, too, i s deliberately equivocal frequently, conveying two opposite ideas in the same proposition. The Envoy's comments on the whereabouts of the Queen are examples of practised equivocation. THE ENVOY: Her majesty i s occupying herself i n becoming entirely what she must be: the Queen. (He looks at the (Arthur's) corpse.) She, too, Is moving rapidly towards immobility. IRMA: And she's embroidering. THE ENVOY: No, Madame. I say the Queen Is embroidering a hand kerchief, for though i t i s my duty to describe her, i t i s also my duty to conceal her. IRMA: Do you mean she's not embroidering? THE ENVOY: I mean that the Queen i s embroidering and that she i s not embroidering. She picks her nose, examines the pickings and l ie s down again. Then, she dries the dishes. (p. 62) There i s suff ic ient mention of movement in the Envoy's words to indicate that the Queen i s a l ive and yet at the same time there i s also a veiled suggestion in the reference to immobility and her meaningless act iv i ty , that she i s dead. As Irma and the Chief of Police ponder over the Envoy's words to f ind out If the Queen i s a l ive or dead, we have a strong suspicion that while the Queen's o f f i ce may be rea l , her majesty herself i n the play could be an i l l u s i on . Two dist inct styles of language can be traced in the speeches of the characters. The play-acting in the bordello i s accompanied by a highly rhetor ica l , grandiloquent style of speech which reveals the 51 narcissism of the men. The Bishop, for instance, declaims when he beholds himself i n the mirror: Ornaments! Mitres! Laces! You, above a l l , oh gilded cope, you protect me from the world... Under your scalloped, lustrous f laps, what have {» my hands been doing? F i t only for f lutter ing gestures, they're become mere stumps of wings-not of angels, but of partridges! (p. 13) Irma, too, uses an ornate manner of speech when she i s playing a ro le , as, for Instance, when she tempts Carmen to stay with her by hinting at a lesbian attachment between them. When she i s haggling with her c l ients or talking business with Arthur, however, she adopts a curt and more rea l i s t i c tone. Essence and appearance thus express themselves in different modes of speech. As bef i ts the dreamlike atmosphere of the second half of the play, the language becomes less simple. There are obscure metaphors as i n the?/ speeches of the Envoy , and contrapuntal phrases abound as in " . . . a true image born of a false spectacle" (p. 75), "the taste of the b i t ter delight of respons ib i l i ty . . . " (p. 80). As the characters move away from r e a l i s t i c , everyday language, the l ines become more ponderous and slow moving. The Balcony's approach to p o l i t i c a l problems i s cerebral, unlike The Blacks' which i s emotional. In the numerous platitudes of the later scenes, Genet seems to caricature the Po l i t i c i an whose words build up an appearance instead of revealing the real person. In summing up, i t could be said that the d ia lect ic of i l l u s i on and rea l i ty i s established in The Balcony at every turn - in the Impersonations at the bordello, the bel iefs of the revolutionaries, in the aspiration of the Chief of Police and in the ascendancy of the Three Great Figures. 52 Taking the second play, The Blacks, we find that i l l u s i on i s again at the heart of the action. Here, Genet resorts to the device of a play within a play in which he e l i c i t s the complicity of the audience cunningly so that the stage world of i l l u s i on and the rea l world of the spectator meet. In the inner play, a group of blacks enacts before a jury of white-masked blacks, i t s murder of a white woman. Right at the beginning, we see a catafalque in the middle of the stage which i s said to contain the 'corpse'. Near the end, when the 'white' court prepares to try the blacks for their crime, the sheet over the catafalque i s removed and i t i s seen that i t had been represented by a pair of chairs over which a sheet had been draped. The corpse and the cof f in are both discovered to be i l lus ions and the performance aspect of the whole thing i s stressed by Archibald, the blacks' master of ceremonies, who te l l s the court, "We are actors and organized an evening's entertainment for you" (p. 99). Archibald's words are rea l ly meant for the audience,which i s made to believe that the r i t u a l murder on stage had been a cover-up for the rea l k i l l i n g off-stage, the execution of a black t ra i tor . But the off-stage action i s again part of the i l l u s i on of performance, since the explosion the audience hears, supposed to be the shot which k i l l ed the t ra i tor , i s , i n ' rea l i t y ' , the noise of a f i r e cracker and the sparks of fireworks are d i s t inct ly seen against the black velvet of the set. Thus the sudden revelation of a play-outside-the-play intimates to us the existence of a new and unsuspected dimension of i l l u s i on . The masked whites of the court f u l f i l the functions of a chorus and also of the antagonists in the action. Seated in the gallery above the blacks who 53 perform the r i t u a l murder, they are also an audience, l i stening, applauding, and reacting to those on the main stage. But we, the rea l audience, know that they are only actors playing at being an audience. With the arr iva l of Newport News,who brings the news of the t r a i to r ' s death, their play acting comes to a halt and they reveal themselves to be the members of a militant Black Movement. The man who played the valet seems to be their leader, and, after questioning Newport News closely, he orders the court to resume their play-roles and continue the performance. The rea l audience,which has seen actors playing audience, now sees actors playing actors. The element of surprise, which causes dramatic tension , i s impl ic it i n the convoluted structure of the play's action. The idea of duality inherent i n a r i t u a l i s exploited in the ceremonious incarnation of Diouf. The transformation of the vicar into V i l lage ' s victim occurs in the presence of witnesses. Diouf dons the blonde wig and mask representing a white woman and 'becomes' Marie. In this guise, he later produces f ive wooden dol ls as his offspring. The man i s thus transformed thrice - f i r s t as an actor, then as a white and, las t ly , as a procreating female. The symbolic identity of Diouf owes i t s acceptance not to the blatantly theatrical transvestism i t s e l f but to an emotional preparedness on the part of the audience which, as mentioned ear l ier , i s brought to a head by the simultaneous presence in the play of the elements of sex, po l i t i c s , and rac ia l antagonism. The 'feminising' of Diouf takes into account the awareness of the spectators that i t i s an i l l u s i on , as well as a readiness to transcend the dimension of i l l u s i on 54 and seek the truth of the symbol. After the rape-murder of the representative white victim, the court descends to the main stage,which i s "A f r i ca " , to try the blacks for their crime and to punish them. But the accusers become the accused and the blacks symbolically execute each member of the court. Here, again, the make-believe nature of the execution i s underlined by the characters, who hold bul let less pistols and k i l l by merely clapping their hands. "We're actors, our massacre w i l l be l y r i c a l " announces the Queen (p.115). The mock execution of the^court then proceeds to the crowing of cocks. Characterization in The Blacks i s more simple but more effective than in The Balcony.Genet views his characters in The Blacks as personifications of r ac i a l attributes and blackness and whiteness are, i n his view, warring absolutes. Since both whites and blacks are played by black actors, their motivation i s the same - hatred of the whites. The cast of characters consists of a cook, a medical student, a vicar and others who indulge in play-acting as a means of wish fulf i lment. They inform us that they play their roles as the whites Imagine them. The r i t u a l i s t i c murder and mock execution are dramatic expressions of their repressed longing for revenge on the whites. The conf l ic t of these opposites precludes any meaningful re lat ion-ship between them. Each group deludes i t s e l f i n the be l ie f that the other does not exist i n any signif icant sense of the term. Quoting stock market figures to each other, the whites try to ignore the blacks who perform before them, as the blacks in their turn ignore the whites who interrupt their remarks by continuing their speeches as though no interruption has occurred. The only meeting point they w i l l have Is the I l lus ion of theatre where they can destroy one another with immunuty. "At last t h e y ' l l know the only dramatic relationships we can have with them," says the Queen (p. 114), as the whites in the play are about to be k i l l e d . Neither group keeps i t s hold on rea l i ty when dealing with the other. While the blacks see everything that i s despicable as whiter the whites suffer from the i l l u s i on that anything that i s good has to be white. Genet points out the absurdity of their i l l u s i on in a humorous l i t t l e scene. The blacks show their disrespect for the dead woman by l ighting their cigarettes around the catafalque in order to "smoke her out" (p. 23). The Queen then begins to weep and the Missionary comforts her with his views on God's colour and dal ly habits which would convince her that He i s on the whites' side. Have confidence, Majesty. God i s white. . . .For two thousand years God has been white. He eats on a white table cloth. He wipes his white mouth with a white napkin. He picks at white meat with a white fork. (A pause.) He watches the snow f a l l . (p. 23-24) As the two groups gird themselves to be uncompromisingly black or white, the theme of the play unfolds slowly, showing both goals to be i l lus ions and establishing the interdependence of the absolutes, which i s the rea l i t y . In their a l l -out effort to 'negrify ' themselves, the blacks try to appear more primitive and savage but, l i v ing in a white world, they cannot but ape white manners. Wearing evening dresses and dancing the minuet, they cannot r i d themselves of the contaminating influence of the whites just as the whites, who shun the blacks, secretly desire the black world of erotic freedom. Thus the Queen confesses before she dies that she i s "choked" by her "desire for a Big Black Buck" (p. 124). In an ear l ier scene. Virtue, the black whore, describing herself as "the l i ly-white Queen of the west" (p. 44), anticipates the words of the Queen herself. The two women, i n a state of trance, then rec i te together a poem in praise of whiteness. Similarly, at the end of the play, F e l i c i t y and the Queen taunt each other with insults, but they are described as moving together "almost amicably" (p. 103) and talking to each other " l i ke two women exchanging recipes" (p. 107). I f we interpret these scenes in the l ight of the black-white d ia lect ic established in the rest of the play, we arrive at the conclusion that the enmity between the two groups, l i ke everything else in The Blacks, is playful i l l u s i on , the rea l i ty being that the twoiaseeming opposites envelop each other and are inseparable. The theme of The Blacks also stresses the disparity between essence and appearance. This applies in particular to the whites who are the masked characters in the play. The mask symbolizes the suppression of the real se l f and the assumption of a facade to present to the world. Whiteness represents, for Genet, besides good, l ight , etc . , hypocrisy and repression. The whites mask their feelings of ho s t i l i t y towards the blacks in an attitude of conci l iat ion and kindness. They also suppress their own desire for the blacks' world of sensuality. Thus essence and appearance are a sharp contrast to each other l ike the i l l -concealed black forces of the actors and their white masks. 57 The techniques of staging The Blacks try to do just ice to i t s "<.,> description as "une clownerie". 5 It i s quite easy to forget that the play '8 nature i s that of a charade and mistake the animosity of the blacks against the whites to be rea l . Genet guards against this contin-gency by means of stage directions which exp l i c i t l y denote that the whole setup i s the i l l u s i on of performance. Thus, when a character i s required to go somewhere, the stage direct ion says that he should mime the movement of walking while remaining stationary. Bobo, playing the role of the victim Marie's neighbour, takes elaborate leave of her and then "remains fixed in an attitude of departure" (pp. 63-64). Similarly, Archibald who i s supposed to enter Marie's garden makes his entry by just miming the walk. At times, the characters l i s ten to someone who remains mute and pretend they have heard some communication. One of them plays a s i lent melody on an Invisible piano. The responsive laughter or applause of the characters around the supposed speaker or musician creates the i l l u s i on of conversation or music. F ina l l y , when the white court descends to the main stage, a l l the blacks vocally produce the noises of the jungle and transform the area into A f r i ca . There i s no attempt to create an i l l u s i on of rea l i ty that would induce the spectators to forget the milieu of the theatre and identify themselves with the action on stage. Any such Identif ication i s due only to an emotional predilection and rac ia l antagonism that the spectators already experience in real l i f e . In an interview by Jean Duvigna&d one week before the open-ing of The Blacks at the Theatre de Lutece, Roger B l in maintained that i t was important to discourage an empathy between the spectators and the characters on the stage: Si le public adhere physiquement a la piece. 1-i l faut menager des ruptures dans cette adhesion et que la c r e d i b i l i t y soit interrompue af ln qu'on l u i rapelle sans cesse q u ' i l s 'agit de treize comedlens qui s'amusent entre eux! In this connection, mention must be made once again of the use of masks as an expl ic i t theatrical device. The mask by i t s very f i x i t y of expression dehumanizes and abstracts the human face.which i s mobile and expressive. It i s very d i f f i c u l t for the spectators to identify themselves with such a dehumanized figure. The mask reminds them of the actor performing for them. The wearing of masks by the court gives just such a reminder: Each actor playing a member of the Court i s a masked negro whose mask represents the face of a white person. The mask i s worn in such a way that the audience sees a wide black band a l l around i t , and even the actor's kinky hair. (p. 8) Both in this case and in that of the masked Diouf who conceals his identity to assume the face and function of a white female, the arrested expression on the mask i s a most effective device of audience alienation. Language i s an acknowledged means of communication but In The Blacks i t s function i s just the opposite - distancing. Right at the beginning, Archibald t e l l s the audience, We shal l increase the distance that separates us-a distance that i s basic- by our pomp, our manners, our insolence- for we are also actors, (p. 12) In order to break down communication, the blacks have to avoid the spoken word of the real ity-oriented world and resort to spectacle- the r i t u a l of murder. The language that accompanies r i t ua l i s incantation or recitation,which i s part of the formal language of the stage as contrasted with the informal language of l i f e . Tet the l y r i c f l i ghts of the blacks' language affords glimpses of a r i c h , poetic imagination not revealed by the words of the whites. The drab rea l i ty of the blacks' subjection to the whites i s compensated by dreams of an untainted, primitive state of freedom: Haunt me, lance bearer. With my long dark strides I roamed the earth. Against that moving mass of darkness the angry but respectful sun flashed i t s beams. They did not traverse my dusky bulk. I was naked... (p. 45) Interrelating the conf l ic t of blacks and whites with the polarity of i l l u s ion and rea l i t y , Genet finds that the two are interchangeable and mistaken for one another. As the blacks gain the upper hand in the power struggle with .the whites, the colour black usurps the connotations of goodness so long Implied by white. However, the blacks' ascendancy i s not rea l , since the resurgence of the whites w i l l occur In course of time. The Irony of the blacks mistaking the i l l u s ion of grandeur for rea l i ty i s reflected in the factual misrepresentation of objects sanctioned by the speaker's colour: ...whatever i s gentle and kind and good and tender w i l l be black. Milk w i l l be black, sugar, r i ce , the sky, doves, hope, w i l l be black. (p. 106) The language varies in tone and tempo constantly, shuffling the different levels of I l lus ion and rea l i ty . The ceremonies of Diouf's 60 incantation and his murder are carried out to the chanting of a melody and a blasphemous l itany , respectively. The chant i s characteristic of the language of r i t u a l , which, on the stage, i s unreality in the tradit ional sense. Consequently, i t i s symbolic and slow, and sets off the brisk factual speeches between Newport News and the blacks about the Black Revolution, which, we are conned into believing, i s rea l . It takes us a while to real ize that the conversational tone and tempo of the language in the off-stage action i s a t r ick that presents i l l u s ion as rea l i ty . Much of the power of The Blacks derives from i t s dynamic theatr ica l i ty. At every turn, the play probes the depths of rea l i ty and i l l u s i on and comes up with the lnterchangeabillty of the two opposites. The play Is kaleidoscopic in i t s presentation of the black-white confrontation. We get to see the blacks' view of the whites, the blacks' view of what the whites think of the blacks, the blacks' view of other blacks, and so on. As we get involved in the several layers of the play's meaning, It i s well to remember that the whole situation i s the figment of a white writer 's imagination and the idea of a Black Revolution i t s e l f i s , in this context, an i l l u s i on . Coming to the third play, The Screens, we find that Genet adopts a cynical tone in the place of the playful juggling with rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . He creates a world of utter nihi l ism where truth ceases to have any va l id i ty . Right at the outset of the action, the characters are bent on a course of self-destruction. Said, the hero, has as his objective the attainment of Non-being,which he (and Genet by tac i t approval) . 61 considers the ultimate rea l i ty . A l l his actions are calculated to bring him nearer to this goal. He marries the ugliest g i r l i n town and subjects her to heartless treatment. He deliberately steals from his fellow workers and suffers imprisonment as a punishment. Once released, he goes in quest of further hardships, accompanied by Le i l a , his wife. Before she dies of utter fatigue, he puts out her eye. Alone now, he betrays the Arab cause in the French-Algerian war. By now his notoriety has made him a legend and,instead of detesting his treachery, the Arab v i l lage comes to emulate him. The l iv ing and the dead both try to win him over with f lattery and the former even try to make him the subject of a song. Said's Mother, who has died ear l ier , warns him not to jo in either group. He i s prepared for one more act of treachery but before he can do anything he i s shot and dies. The dead wait for his a r r i va l , but Said does not arrive In their region, for he has attained non-being. Each step of the main action in the play outlines a phase of Said's progress to Nothingness. It i s true that in the beginning Said talks of going to Paris to earn money with which to buy himself another woman. But by deliberately stealing the money instead of earning i t and thereby suffering imprisonment, he shows that money I tsel f i s not his concern any more. Besides, he does not steal from his employer, or any other European but only from fellow Arabs who are quite poor. By this act he abandons his wife and his mother to the reprobation of the v i l lage. Thus, by a conscious choice of cr iminal ity, Said cuts himself off from material possessions and family t ie s , which are i l lus ions . Similarly, by committing treason, he isolates himself from the other Arabs. By the end of the play, poised between l i f e and death, he i s utter ly alone, and with coaplete disregard for human values i s able to say to his admirers, "To the old gal, to the soldiers, to a l l of you, I say shit " (p. 197). Said's search for absolute rea l i ty i s paralleled by Le i l a ' s . She begins her l i f e with Said by creating a make-believe world of matrimonial b l i s s . She makes her declaration of love to her husband's pants which she pretends &ie a l i ve person. For a br ief while, she comforts herself with the i l l u s i on , but soon finds a real way to get his attention. She steals and goes to j a i l with Said in a l ike attempt at se l f annihilation. Her conversion to ev i l i s at f i r s t under-taken with a view to win his approval, but very soon she comes to feel a perverse happiness in her suffering. Her pursuit of negativity makes her take to begging and to maintain an unkempt appearance. She thus rejects the i l lus ions of respectabil ity and outward beauty. In the subplot, we have the self-deception of Warda, the whore. She prides herself on her whoredom and on being the mysterious creature whom housewives fear and hate. She te l l s Ma l i ke , the young harlot, that whore should be able to attract men by what she i s reduced to become. After the war, new g i r l s l i ke Djend. 11a arrive from the continent and they set up, the trend of t i t i l l a t i n g men's senses. The soldiers treat the prostitutes as chattels, and, since prostitution has become legal, the v i l lage women recognize and accept them as social equals. Warda now real izes that both her ar t i s t ry and her uniqueness as a whore have been i l lus ions and tears her clothes in despair. Soon afterwards, she dies 63 at the hands of the v i l lage women,who attack her with knitt ing needles. The characters of The Screens have widely different concepts of rea l i ty and i l l u s ion . Said and his family are seekers of the rea l . Truth or rea l i t y i s almost always harsh and unpleasant and the bodily pain and disf iguration in f l i c ted by Said and Le i la on themselves and others signify a confrontation with rea l i ty . They are the nettles which others avoid. Says the Mother: I've known since childhood that I belong -perhaps through the females, and Said through me- to the nettle family. Near ruins, tangled with shards, their bushes were my cruelty, my hypocrit ical meanness that I kept, with one hand behind my back, in order to hurt the world! (p. 112) Said i s superior to her, since his meanness i s open whereas hers i s hypocrit ical . In fact, while the actions of the rest of the characters in the play - even the dead - are self-centred and hypocr i t ica l , Said's and Le i l a ' s show that they are true to themselves. Genet's view i s that one can find one's rea l essence only in utter solitude. Said by his ant i -socia l ac t iv i t ies isolates himself from the world around him. Only then, when he has stripped away the i l lus ions surrounding him, does he f ind transcendental rea l i ty . It i s not without reason that Genet repeatedly refers to the foul bodily odour of Said and Le i l a . As Lionel Abel puts i t , Said i s human crap, soc ia l ly and morally. And Genet wants us to have a good whiff of him whenever he i s on stage. 7 The masochism of Said and Lei la achieves the destruction of the ego which thrives on i l lus ions . Achieving their se l f negation through criminal ity and physical stench, each becomes a saint-criminal. 64 As a contrast to these two characters who confront rea l i ty In a l l i t s starkness, we have the whores of the brothel who l i ve by i l lus ions . They project an image of mystery and exoticism by means of their elaborate to i le t te . Warda does not survive the revolution because i t destroys the i l lus ions which were the mainstay of her l i f e . The other whores compromise with rea l i ty and, instead of looking on their profession as an art, regard i t as a business enterprise. The French soldiers, being aesthetes, have an unreal and rather absurd notion of war. Like the whores, the lieutenant re l ies on external ornaments of the soldiers ' uniforms, for he does not know the actuality of war but only i t s theory. The General finds that the war i s a theatre, a cruel game. The Sergeant thinks that his cruelty makes him beauti ful . In short, then, the French soldiers equate war with the unreal characteristics of art as opposed to l i f e . It i s the Arab8 who grasp the rea l i ty of war- the scarcity of water, the f i l t h and the deaths that are inevitable. The French colonists, too, are l ike the whores, l iv ing by means of i l lus ions . They symbolize the r i ch bourgjbis whom Genet despises and hence are exaggerated, ridiculous figures* Mr. Blankensee creates an i l l u s i on of his powerful physique by padding his stomach and his behind. The other characters of this world l ike the Missionary and the Banker are even more unreal. They are "des marionettes mi-vivantes, mi-figees, parading in their costumes of the past. The Screens delineates In i t s theme the real and the i l lusory aspects of human l i f e . Genet implies the presence of two levels of 65 existence, the conscious and the unconscious. Sartre, whose philosophy also incorporates this Idea, refers to them in his St. Genet: Corned1en 9 et Martyr as the Self and the Other • The Self accepts the ethical code imposed on us by society. It also denies conscious expression to the Other which explores areas that society considers obnoxious. Through his portrayal of the anti-couple, Said and Le i l a , Genet triumphantly asserts the Other as the authentic part of the human entity. The couple's in iquity i s open and essence and appearance are one in their case, while most of the other characters conceal their real selves and l i ve by appearances. The Screens gives an ascetic 's view of l i f e , implying that the values that human beings cherish are rea l ly empty. In the opening scene, we see Said and his mother on their way to his wedding. Said carries a val ise which i s supposed to contain a lot of g i f t s - pieces of lace, china and goodies to eat. When the val ise f a l l s open: at the end of the scene, we see that i t Is actually empty. In another scene, Le i l a and the Mother imitate the clucking of hens and cooing of pigeons. The two scenes, while depicting the i l lus ions of grandeur that poor folk have i n order to satisfy their hankering for wealth and property, carry a more important message. Translated into metaphysical language, they state that the notion of property and possessions i s i t s e l f a grand I l lus ion l ike the empty val ise and the barnyard sounds. It i s s ignif icant that once Said's quest for an authentic l i f e begins, he stops going to the brothel. Le i l a , too, no longer desires sexual fulfilment in her married l i f e . To those whose goal i s the f ina l 66 rea l i t y of se l f knowledge, sexual love i s an i l l u s i on and irrelevant. The play's theme touches on the question of power also. The relat ion between the Algerians and the French colonists i s similar to that between the blacks and whites of the previous play; the dominated versus the dominators. At f i r s t the Algerians are submissive since their French masters appear to be vastly superior and powerful. S ir Harold, whose plantation i s cultivated by Arab workers, watches them s t r i c t l y . When he i s away from the plantation, he leaves his pigskin glove to watch them. The glove, symbolising the iron hand of the colonist, i s later discovered to be packed with straw. Similarly, Mr. Blankensee, who owns estates of cork oak, pads himself in front and behind to present an imposing figure. When the truth about Sir Harold's glove and Mr. Blankensee's build i s known, the former's trees are destroyed and the latter i s k i l l e d . Here we have the theme already expanded in The Balcony, that power i s based on i l lus ions . The Screens i s equally sceptical about the bourgeois display of merit and d ist inct ion. One of the scenes portrays an old couple pinning medals and ribbons of f i c t i t i ous orders onto a dummy and admiring i t . The scene attacks social and mi l i tary distinctions, which conceal the basic worthlessness of a person and create the i l l u s i on of his great merit. Genet goes further and says that beneath the ornate splendour of his social posit ion, man is a creature of f i l t h . The sergeant i s the playwright's spokesman when he declares that excretion levels social ranks: 67 When you squeeze, you get glassy eyed, something clouds over.... and.... what Is It that clouds over and blots out? The world? . . . . The sky?.... No. Your rank of sergeant, and that of captain! And a l l that goes with It: the uniform, the stripes, the decorations and the Off icers ' school diploma when you've got one!... (p. 170) Man's moment of truth comes when he i s doing this basic biological function which Is symbolic of the Other in one's se l f . Absolute honesty to oneself requires the recognition and acceptance of the Other. Said shows this honesty by embracing criminality and excrementalism,which go together. His system of values also outlines the most controversial message in the play, namely, that Good i s the greatest i l l u s ion of a l l , Ev i l being the only rea l i ty . Genet questions the va l id i ty of conventional ethics by his anti-ethics. To label crime as immoral or ev i l i s to pass a value judgement based on social values. To be good i s to display, sheep-like, a desire for conformity whereas the pursuit of e v i l asserts one's indiv idual i ty. And in Genet's view, truth or rea l i ty i s unattain-able so long as one conforms to an arbitrary system of morality. The techniques used in the staging of the play integrate dramatic and theatrical i l l u s i on . F i r s t of a l l , the setting of the action, although i t i s said to be Algeria, i s deliberately l e f t imprecise. What struck the audience in the 1961 Ber l in production of The Screens was that the 10 milieu was a no man's land . The region of the dead, of course, has to be such a terr i tory, but even the ' r e a l ' setting of the Arab v i l lage seemed unreal despite i t s multiple landmarks such as the brothel, orangery, prison, road, and so on. The movable screens which shi f t the scenes from one of these locations to another remind the audience of the make-believe setting of the play. Play and i l l u s i on characterize the decor. The actors create, as part of the performance, the locales of the action by means of the drawings on the screens. In one scene, a spectacular f i r e i s suggested by means of flames drawn with orange coloured chalk. Odette Asian draws our attention to this imaginary aspect of the decor: Les cornediens n'entrent pas au lever du rideau dans un universe immuable qu'on a constrult pour eux, mais i l s cr£ent eux-memes leur decor avec des parois mobiles qu ' i l s doivent manipuler, et sur ces parois, l i s dessinent devant le spectateur les objets ou les signes necessalres pour que l 'act ion puis progresser. H. The actors are at play either among themselves or with objects. It i s made clear that the sound effects are produced by them as part of this play. Thus sounds of wind, forest f i r e and thunder are a l l produced by the actors on stage. Genet stipulates that in contrast with the objects drawn in trompe-l ' o e i l on each screen, there must be one or more real objects on the stage. The confusion between rea l i ty and i l l u s i on i s maintained through-out by juxtaposing concrete things with impersonations. Thus Le i l a , who shows her mother-in-law her deftness in stealing, displays a real cheese grater and lamp which she has stolen, but she draws the picture of a Lui8 XV clock. The reason for this item alone being represented in picture form i s based on the d ia lect ic between i l l u s i on and rea l i ty . Clocks, which measure time s t r i c t l y in the real world, have no place In this stage world of i l l u s i on which ignores the concept of time. The only kind of clock which i s seen here has to be an i l l u s ion i t s e l f . 69 Similarly, the continuum of space i s irrelevant on the stage. Hence, when the gendarme comes to arrest Le i la for burglary, she turns to the direction opposite to that of his entry and bows. Everything i s i l l u s ion and make-believe. The characters are to be made up in such a/way that they emphasize impersonation and illusion,which are the business of the theatre. Genet writes that he would l ike the characters to be masked. Where this i s not possible, they are to be highly made up - "excessive make-up, contrasting with the realism of the costumes" (p. 10). He advises the use of a large variety of false noses and chins which would detract from the conventional beauty of face which i s highlighted on the stage. The language of The Screens, at once brutal and poetic, reinforces the ambiguity between rea l i ty and i l l u s ion . Genet indicates that the language of the dead i s closer to dai ly l i f e . By contrast, that of the colonists i s deliberately inf lated. Again, i n the language of the l i v ing , in their real ity-oriented world, we have certain images where poetry and fantasy unite: ....I hope I've shown the right way. Though at bottom a l l ways are a l ike. L e i l a . . . . L e i l a ! . . . I f you see steamboats crossing the rye f ie lds , i f you see sai lors in the a l f a l f a . . . . (p. 142) Poetic images and metaphors abound in the words of Said and Le i l a who reject the world of materialism. "A used match i s pretty," soli loquizes Le i l a , " I t 's only then, when i t ' s white and black and a l i t t l e twisted by the flame, that i t looks gentle and kind." (p. 109) She and Said l i ve in f i l t h but the language they speak has a unique beauty noticeably absent in the language of the other Arabs. The le t ter ' s idea of rea l i ty 70 amounts just to an obsession with repulsive, visual detai ls . "The f l i e s ! The f l i e s ! The f l i e s ! . . . " screech the women mourning Sir Sllmane's death, and one of them describes the infestation in deta i l : "F l ies in the ce l l a r , f l i e s on the ce i l ing , and their droppings on my s k i n . . . " 1 2 (p. 40). What i s unusual i s that the words connected with excrementalism are uttered with great re l i sh as i f the characters savour each sy l lable. Genet's use of scatological imagery stems from a wish to force upon others an awareness of the ugly aspects of rea l i ty as well as from his own fascination with the excrements1 aspects of e v i l . He tr ies to g lor i fy squalour and transform i t into something noble, but the transformation w i l l not be effective i n the mind of the public so long as i t remains rea l squalour. As Sartre points out, Genet has to present 13 excrement in the guise of rose jam i f the public i s to consume i t . In The Screens, at least, he does not attempt this culinary deception. From an examination of Genet's last plays, i t i s clear that the d ia lect ic of i l l u s i on and rea l i ty i s basic to a l l the three plays. The function of this polarity i s curiously related to the good-evil polar i ty, as i t i s related to the l i fe-death pr inc ip le. Richard Coe points out "the ingenious twist of the theory of appearances" 14 i n the last play8. The grands bourgeois of The Balcony, the whites of The  Blacks and the colonists of The Screens are masked and caricatured so as to make their ev i l readily discernible. But the ev i l of the whores, the blacks and the Arabs i s hidden. Their unmasked faces actually conceal ev i l and present the i l l u s i on of good. The tradit ional ro le of masks and faces i s reversed here, since the masks present rea l i ty 71 and faces, i l l u s ion . It i s , perhaps, Genet's f ina l word on the indist inguishabi l i ty of rea l i ty and i l l u s ion . NOTES  CHAPTER II 1. The phrase i s used by Richard Coe, in 'Anarchy in the Brothel ' , The Vision of Jean Genet ( London: Peter Owen Ltd. , 1968 ), p.261. 2. Richard Coe, Ibid, p. 275. 3. Jean Genet, quoted by Robert Brustein in The Theatre of Revolt ( Boston: L i t t l e , Brown & Co., 1964 ), p. 379. Genet's words were part of the foreword to a new edition of The Maids written in 1954. 4. Jean Genet, 'Comment Jouer Le Balcon', Le Balcon ( L'arbalete, 1960 ), p. 7. 5. This i s the subtit le of the play in French. The English edition s imilarly bears the t i t l e , The Blacks: a Clown Show. 6. Roger B l in interviewed by Jean Duvignaud, 'Rencontre avec Roger B l i n ' , Les Lettres Nouvelles. Oct. 28, 1959, p. 25. 7. L. Abel, 'Don't Sing Your Crap': i n The Theatre of Jean Genet, ed. Richard Coe ( New York: Grove Press, 1970 ), p. 171. 8. Odette Asian, 'Les Paravents de Jean Genet', i n Les Voles de la Creation Theatrale, ed. Denis Bablet and Jean Jaquot ( Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1972 ), p. 21. 9. Jean Paul Sartre, Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr, translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman ( New York: G. Braz i l l e r , Inc., 1963 ), see Chapters ent i t led, 'The Eternal Couple of the Criminal and the Saint ' , pp. 136-137, 'I i s another', pp. 148-149, 'Ca in ' , pp. 337-338. 10. Odette Asian, in Les Voles de la Creation Theatrale. p. 18. 11. Odette Asian, Ibid., p. 26. 12. It i s interesting to compare Sartre's use of the same image in Les Mouches. In Genet's play, f l i e s are part of scatology which the characters savour. They are greeted as friends by the women. Kadidja, for instance, knows each f l y by i t s name. In Les Mouches, on the other hand, the f l i e s are symbols of a divine scourge or punishment which mortals have to experience for having sinned. They inspire either fear or resignation. The lonely figure of Orestes pursued by swarms of f l i e s at the end of the play i s more tragic than the characters of The Screens who converse with the insects. 13. Cross-referenced in Robert Brustein, The Theatre of Revolt, p. 381. 14. Richard Coe, 'Anarchy in the Brothel ' , The Vision of Jean Genet, p. 261. 74 CHAPTER III  LOVE AND HATE Genet's fa i th In the efficacy of hatred as a potent stimulus of dramatic experience has been discussed in connection with his love of r i t u a l . A discussion of the treatment of love and hate in his last plays shows that the ambivalent love-hate relationships portrayed in these plays i s only a magnification of his own relationship with society. It i s not only hatred but also extreme love or fear which can contribute to the total experience of the spectator in the theatre, when he becomes a duality, part of him believing what he sees and the rest of him knowing that the be l ie f i s based on i l l u s i on . However, in Genet'8 view, hatred produces this wil led be l ief more easi ly than love or fear. The last plays of Genet take for granted the spectator's Immense potential for hatred, which needs only to be catalysed by the events he sees on the stage. In the three plays, there i s no middle course between love and hatred,which are contending absolutes that coincide. Their unity i s not rea l ly new, as hatred which i s seen to be rea l ly love and (to use a hakcneyed phrase) love-hate relationships, have been treated by other dramatists. What i s unusual i s the wholly negative display of love and hate and the dramatist's and the actors' attitude to the spectators. This attitude transforms the spectators into symbols and subjects them to the acrimony exhibited on the stage. The already controversial subjects of po l i t i c s and sex are made additionally provocative In The Balcony with the introduction of sacrilege in the action. Both here and in The Blacks, the characterization features love being displayed as hate. The theme that naturally derives from this i s the oneness of the supposed opposites. In The Blacks, hatred i s not merely a motivation but the hallmark of black identity. Consequently, the actors' hate relationship with the audience has meaning only i f the audience i s white. In other words, the identities of the actors and the spectators , based on colour, provides the emotional atmosphere of the play. In The Balcony, on the other hand, Genet i s less sure of the spectators supplying the hatred. He therefore tr ies to bring i t into the open, f i r s t by means of the provocation of sacrilege and then by showing that i t i s the so-called normal world of the spectator which displays such distorted behaviour. The Screens develops the love-hate polarity i n the peripheral deta i l of the Franco-Algerian war. The love or fascination which the dominated Arabs have for their French rulers i s similar to the attitude of the blacks towards the whites In The Blacks and to that of the plebians towards the Establishment in The Balcony. But i n the Said story, we have a number of hate-acts committed by the anti-hero against society and against himself. His actions are means to achieve supreme negativity. They are symbols of his individualism. But precisely because of these hate-acts, he i s loved by the Arabs. The hate-love polarity thus functions in the form of cause and effect i n the main action of The Screens.In i t s characterization, hatred figures largely as the motivational force while 76 love Is almost wholly absent. Love and hate as d ist inct elements in the duality of the matriarchal figure are revealed by the three female leaders: the Mother. Kadidja and Ommu. The play espouses the cause of e v i l , not because of any int r ins ic value i t has. but because i t i s a gesture of hatred against the society which has imposed i t s system of values on people. If one accepts those values, he becomes hateful, too. which i s what the masochistic actions of the characters say. Thus to a large extent, the conf l ict of love and hate in The Screens concerns the question of ethics while in The Balcony i t i s connected with po l i t i c s and in The Blacks with rac ia l identity. The element of hatred i s impl ic it i n any war,so an examination of The Balcony'8 action, which treats the war between the Establishment and the rebels, gives prominence to this feeling. The Balcony represents the Established Order since i t projects images of that order. The revolutionaries hate the Balcony and a l l that i t represents. The tension between the two groups i s very great as the rebels' hatred of Authority is matched by love of the same Authority within the bordello. The love i s expressed in the form of admiration in the play-acting of the whores and customers who rehearse the functions of the Establishment. The others, l ike Irma and the Chief of Pol ice, display loyalty to the government. Their loyalty seems to follow a pattern of hierarchy. Thus the Chief of Police has his bodyguards who, in order to show their loyalty to him, w i l l protect his protegees at the brothel. He in turn serves the Queen, who, we are to ld, has guards so loyall they w i l l die for her. When the war becomes rea l ly b i t ter and the Queen and her off icers of the state 77 are k i l l e d , the Envoy depends on the loyalty of Irma and the others in the Balcony to resolve the c r i s i s . But once Irma becomes the Queen and her ' v i s i t o r s ' become Judge, Bishop and General i n rea l i t y , they show an attitude of hate to the common people. "Your grandeur requires your having slaughtered the rebels wholesale," says the Bishop to the Queen (p.75). He excommunicates people on the f ra i les t of excuses while the Judge levies death penalties at w i l l and the General extracts the maximum labour from the workers who build the public,monuments. The rulers repay the love or loyalty of subjects with hate and when this becomes too unbearable, the subjects rebel. And so we have a new revolution (or perhaps i t i s just the resurrection of the old one) at the end of the play when the rebels show their hatred of the Establishment once again. The love-hate polarity of the main plot i s cross lighted by two incidents: the defection of Chantal and the castration of the rebel leader, Roger. Chantal, the erstwhile resident of the Grand Balcony, turns against i t when she elopes with Roger and joins the revolutionaries. The men make her a symbol to sustain their morale and she lends her face and voice " for hatred's sake" (p. 56). As the instrument of war, her business i s to whip up the hatred of the rebels against the Establishment. It Is a complete change of roles. Formerly, as a prostitute, she had shown men a semblance of love. Now she uses her s k i l l s to produce hate. Her transformation into a symbol of hate denies her the joy of personal love and she has to reject Roger's advances. A symbol lacks individual ity. It objectif ies the response i t excites. Chantal, the symbol of the 78 insurrection, arouses hatred that i s directed not against any particular individual but against the mass of governmental authority. The love e l i c i ted by such a symbol can only be equally de-personalized. The revolutionaries love Chantal, not for what she i s but for what she represents. When she i s assassinated and then canonized, she becomes trapped into an emblem and commands the same kind of love from both parties. Unlike Chantal'8 hatred, Roger's, as seen in the castration scene, Is extremely personal. The severest punishment he can think of for his fa i lure i n the revolution i s to merge his identity with that of his ideological opposite, the Chief of Police. The castration i s a gesture of hatred against himself and against his enemy at once. Ironical ly, i t i s a gratuitous blessing for the Chief of Police whose self - love i s fu l l y sat isf ied since he can now claim d iv in i ty. With his metamorphosis into an image and then into a deity, he too, l ike Chantal, rejects personal love. Irma ca l l s to him as he descends into his tomb, but his response to her i s "I 've nothing more to do with you" (p. 94). If, in the action, love and hate operate separately, they are coexistent in the characterization. The customers of the bordello imitate the functions of the power figures. The imitations are in the form of r i tua ls and have the solemnity of a Mass. Each of the Impersonators takes his role very seriously. He demands that the scenario be as authentic as possible, handles his robes with reverence and in: general feelsfithe dignity of the role he adopts. Such an imitation betokens a fascination with the offices-rehearsed tbi»t Mounts to cIo v e* r A n < * v e t » D y imitating these off ices in a brothel, as a prelude to sexual relations with whores, 79 the men also def i le the sanctity of these of f ices, which reveals a hatred of them.; The relationship of Irma's g i r l s with these men has similar ambi-valent implications. Most of the customers of the brothel show a psychological need for affection and sympathy. The General who pretends that he i s dead and that multitudes weep for him i s a case in point. But love i s a commodity for sale in the brothel and those offering i t in the market cannot afford to become emotionally involved with the buyers. Even feelings approaching love are out of place. Irma admits to Carmen: It would be a catastrophe i f my cl ients and g i r l s smiled at each other affectionately. It would be an even greater catastrophe than i f i t were a question of love. (p. 41) The act iv i ty of the g i r l s suggests love, but they give only the semblance of the emotion, without i t s s p i r i t . Ito i s a travesty of a love-relationship and, i f the argument were carried to i t s logical extreme, one detects the presence of a latent hatred. The sado-masochistic practices of the customers ref lect the conf l ict of extreme love and hate within them. The f lagel lat ion scene is a b r i l l i a n t example of this psychological conf l i c t . The pseudo judge grat i f ies his ego by judging the fake thief for a supposed crime. He has the pimp, dressed as an executioner, whip the g i r l soundly and finds a sadistic pleasure i n her tears. At the same time, he i s aware that i t i s only because the whore consents to play the thief that he i s able to pretend that he i s a judge, and i t i s only due to the strong arm of the executioner that his sentence i s carried into effect. Criminal, judge 80 and executioner are a l l caught la a sado-masochistic round. We are bound together, you, he and I. For example, If he didn't h i t , how could I stop him from hitting? Therefore, he must strike so that I can intervene and demonstrate my authority. And you must deny your gui l t so that he can beat you. (p. 15) The thief i s thus the object of his love and hatred and the judge,who reveals his self- love in exalting his ro le, also shows signs of se l f -hate when he abases himself by l icking the g i r l ' s shoes. The executioner and the thief have their moment of sadistic triumph now as the former holds the whip above the judge and makes him crawl and the g i r l haughtily demands that he l i ck her shoes. Quite a few of the characters in the bordello are torn between strong feelings of love and hate. In another scene, a l ice-ridden tramp i s transported with joy as a beautiful g i r l whips him. Genet leaves us in doubt as to whether this extreme cruelty and abjection are perversions or common aspects of human nature. Irma herself, who i s i n control of the situation, i s not exempt from a tendency to cruelty, as her words to Carmen about her daughter indicate: You're the fa i ry godmother who comes to see her with toys and perfumes. She pictures you in Heaven. (Bursting out laughing) Ah, that's the l imit - to think there's someone for whom my brothel - which i s Hel l - i s Heaven! I t ' s Heaven for your brat! (She laughs.) Are you going to make a whore of her later on? (p. 31) Viewed i n the perspective of her lesbian attachment to Carmen, the words give the impression of a jealous hate-attitude. Genet himself indicates, i n "Comment Jouer le Balcon", the presence of an antagonism between the two women: 81 Essayer de rendre sensible la r i v a l i t e qui parait exister entre Irma et Carmen. Je veux dire: qui d i r i ge- la maison et la piece? Carmen ou Irma? 1 The Balcony's theme finds; power and sexuality related factors. Romantic sexual love,which offers l i t t l e scope for power po l i t i c s i s consequently shown as weak and sentimental. Roger's love for Chantal f a l l s into this category. At the f i r s t opportunity, Chantal escapes from this irksome romance to seek glory as a singer leading the troops. Since power and sexuality are interrelated in Genet's drama, implications of love and hate that go with sexuality enter any discussion of power. Kenneth Tynan's observation on the castration scene i s of relevance in this matter. According to him, while the sources of power are erot ic, power i t s e l f is sexless, which i s what the castration i s a l l 2 about. The ordinary men who v i s i t the Grand Balcony are transformed into power figures by the erotic ministrations of the whores. Once they put on the robes of the figures they imitate, they describe themselves as 'dead'. Death, which frees one from sexual identity, i s a mark of power. But power must be exercised and, invariably, i t emanates in hate acts. Hence the bloodshed, slave labour and excommunications we hear about in the last half of the play. The theme also states that love and hate are opposite extremes in mob sentimentality. Emotions fe l t en masseare highly unstable and the mob's feelings veer from love to hate and back again. The rabble, C sympathising with the rebels at f i r s t , shows i t s b i t ter hatred of the Establishment by massacring the Queen and her followers. The people even exhibit the decapitated head of the Bishop on the handlebars of a 82 bicycle. Soon after this gruesome exhibition of cruelty, the new Queen, Bishop, Judge and General r ide In procession and the same crowd cheers and throws flowers and kisses at them. The mob's attitude betokens the love-hate syndrome of subjects to their rulers. Any performance of The Balcony would make the most of the elements of erotic love and sado-masochism In the f i r s t few scenes. The b r i l l i a n t effect of the second scene derives from a judicious combination of the two. The eroticism of the scene i s conveyed through the costumes and poses of the th ief and the executioner: A woman, young and beautiful, seems to be chained, with her wrists bound. Her muslin dress i s torn. Her breasts are v i s ib le . Standing in front of her i s the executioner. He i s a giant, stripped to the waist. Very muscular. His whip has been slipped through the loop of his be l t , i n back, so that he seems to have a t a i l . . . (pp. 13-14) Sadism and masochism combine in the dynamic picture of the executioner holding the whip above the prostrate judge who crawls towards the thief, shrinking back at his approach. The sound effects, too, give a tone of hos t i l i t y . There i s the ominous crack of the executioner's whip; and the th ie f ' s cry of fear. The last thing we hear as the screen moves into the wing i s the shriek of the g i r l holding out her foot to the judge, "Not yet! Lick! Lick! Lick f i r s t ! " (p. 20). In the next scene, the sound effect creates a contrast with the visual element in the sense that the former Is suggestive of fear while the scene being acted out i s of an amorous nature. The appearance and movements of : the 'war horse' are extremely sensual, but before the audience can s i t back and enjoy this element the long-drawn scream of a woman Is heard from elsewhere in the building, presumably suggesting the sadist ic practice of some c l ient . In the 1960 production of The Balcony in New York by the Circ le in the Square, the erotic appeal of the scene won particular mention in the reviews. The Time reports: . . . Ea r l i e r , the evening has a moment so vibratingly mad that i t a l l but leaves the audience unhitched from the third scene on. The General stands dressed for batt le. Into his presence, pacing voluptuously with long-legged precision, pawing the earth with , impatient sensuality, comes history 's f i r s t whorse.. The last of these masquerades at the brothel again sychronizes attitudes of love and hate. The red haired g i r l who strikes the pseudo tramp has "an exaggeratedly lofty and cruel a i r , " (p. 28) as She puts the l ice-ridden wig on his head roughly. There i s no spoken word', only the 'swish' of the whip as i t comes down on the tramp, and the actions of the two make an effective contrast between love and hate: The man takes a bouquet of a r t i f i c i a l flowers from his pocket. He holds i t as i f he were going to offer i t to the g i r l , who whips him and lashes i t from his hand. The man's face i s l i t up with tenderness. ( p . 28) Amidst the props of the Balcony,like the mirrors and the unmade bed that indicate i t s concern with love, i s Irma's viewing apparatus,with which she spies on her g i r l s and customers. Its presence in her room denotes the distrust and doubt she has of her employees, which are feelings a l l i ed to hate. The language of The Balcony employs a variety of styles and imagery to convey the oppositional functions of love and hate. The romantic love of Roger for Chantal i s expressed in poetic language: 84 Your breasts, your skin, your hair are more real than the certainty of noon. You envelop me and I contain you. (p. 59) But juxtaposed with the more rea l i s t i c speeches of Irma and the others, Roger's words as well as Chantal's drip with sentiment and sound contrived. Similarly, self- love i s expressed in an unreal i s t ic , Inflated style of speech. In the Mausoleum Studio, as the slave sings the praise of Roger, the Chief of Pol ice, whose image Roger has adopted, says, "The stones venerate me!" Roger, his a l ter ego, echoes his sentiment, saying, Everything proclaims me! Everything breathes me and everything worships me! My history was l ived so that a glorious page might be written and then read. (p. 91) Irma, too, uses an ornate style of speech when she avows her affection for Carmen. The language of love i s thus exaggerated or s t y l i s t i c but hos t i l i t y and hatred are expressed in a very natural, easy style of speech. The exchanges between Arthur and Carmen and between the whores and the customers outside the make-believe incidents are brisk, everyday speeches. There i s a def inite sense of pleasure exhibited by some of the characters over the suffering of others. "I want to see hot tears gush from your lovely eyes" says the Judge, "Oh! I want you to be drenched in them." THE THIEF: I've already c r i ed . . . THE JUDGE: Under the blows. I want tears of repentance. When I see you wet as a meadow, I ' l l be utter ly sat i s f ied. (p. 15) Since the concept of love - either romantic or patr iot ic - i s idealized, the language describing i t i s f u l l of conventional images associated with the sentiment. We frequently hear about blood, sweat and tears which symbolize the s a c r i f i c i a l element in love. On the other 85 hand, hatred i s communicated far more effect ively by means of sound effects, for instance the crack of a whip or the sound of gunfire, the tone used by the actors, their gestures, and fac ia l expressions, rather than by means of the imagery. When the Chief of Police pushes the Three Figures down and threatens them, he does not need a description of his feelings to convey to us his mood. Thus the love-hate polarity in The Balcony presents us with the different aspects of each, ranging from loyalty to lust in the f i r s t category and from enmity to open cruelty in the second. Love i s the more art iculate force in The Balcony although i t s expression i s rather a r t i f i c i a l ,but in the next play, The Blacks, i t i s hatred which i s most art iculate and splendidly poetic. . The central action of The Blacks i s motivated by hatred which i s not merely a make-believe action in the theatre but i s an authentic fact of the blacks' and whites' existence outside. The vituperation of the blacks i s directed into three channels of action: the rape-murder of the white woman, the execution of the white court and the denunciation of the white audience. The moving force behind the murder i s not V i l lage ' s personal hatred of a white woman, but the hatred of a l l the blacks for a l l the things represented by white. The transvested Diouf i s not rea l ly Marie but the col lect ive white race which i s symbolically annihilated. The judge apprehends this s inister Import of V i l lage ' s action: He k i l l e d out of hatred. Hatred of the colour white. That was tantamount to k i l l i n g our entire race and k i l l i n g us t i l l doomsday. (p. 98) 86 This hatred Is so intense that when one of the blacks, Diouf, dares to propose that the ceremony should Involve both races, "not i n hatred, but in love", he i s singled out for the role of the murder vict im. The transformation takes place before our eyes, as Diouf i s bedecked with the mask and curls that represent a white female, wears a woman's skirt and takes up a piece of knitt ing. Later on, he 'gives b i r th ' to the f ive wooden dolls which are the Images of the white court. D i ou f s action i s host i le to both sexes. By reason of his profession as a clergyman, he i s , or should be, a patriarchal figure among the blacks. But by masquerading as a female and arrogating the procreative function of the female, he evinces a jealousy towards the female, which i s a betrayal and demeaning of his own sex. Further, as his identity as a male beneath the mask i s only too well known and as he produces l i fe les s dolls for his offspring, his role i s a travesty of the female function. D i ou f s incarnation as an androgynous figure i s thus an act of hatred towards both men and women. The blacks' acrimony i s not spent even after the symbolic murder of Diouf. It i s directed against the court which comes to try them for the crime. The whites are 'executed' to the sound of cocks crowing victoriously in the background. Even then, the blacks' desire for revenge i s not sat is f ied and they vent their hatred in condemning the souls of the dead to ' H e l l ' . Genet's st ipulation that. The Blacks should be played before a white audience and performed only by black actors c lear ly denotes that he means the audience to be the target of the action and receive the v i l i f i c a t i o n 87 and contempt directed against the whites. At a crucia l moment in the play, when Diouf delivers the representatives of the white race, a member of the audience i s Invited on stage to hold his knitt ing. The complicity of the audience i s thus e l i c i ted in the symbolic b i r th of i t s community and i t i s made to witness the death of the race in D i ou f s murder. Genet betrays the spectators many times over in The Blacks. They are alerted to an off-stage action- a ' r e a l ' murder which has used the events on stage as a smoke screen. As the blacks str ip off their masks and discuss the p o l i t i c a l exigencies of this off-stage action, the audience i s led to half believe that a black insurrection against whites i s imminent. They have already been denounced as a diseased, hypocrit ical bunch due to their ident i f icat ion with the white court and now they have become participants in the action which depicts their own death. It i s Genet's coup de grace in a r i t ua l celebration of hatred. In the characterization, the love-hate d ia lect ic works through black and white interrelat ion. The hatred which the blacks have for the whites i s tinged with a fascination for their ways and a susceptibi-l i t y to their personal charms. Snow accuses the men of having been attracted by the white woman: There was a touch of desire in your hatred of her which means a touch of love. (p. 17) Virtue, the black whore, has had intimate relations with the whites in her professional capacity and she reveals herself as one half of the duality of the matriarchal figure, the other half being the Queen, when she anticipates the Queen's words and describes herself as white. The whites, for their part, find the blacks' world of erotic freedom most 88 al lur ing, as confessed by the Queen. Thus, despite the two groups' resolve to hate each other, they cannot avoid feelings akin to love. F e l i c i t y , the other counterpart of the Queen, also symbolizes the love-hate d ia lect ic . She i s the mother figure among the blacks, to whom they, look up for guidance. To the whites, she i s the terr ib le sorceress who typif ies black hatred. In the scene where she places corn on the catafalque she s ignif ies the maternal propensity for nurture. But what she i s feeding i s the corpse - a symbol of the blacks' hatred of whites-and she does not want i t to "dwindle away" (p. 50). One i s reminded of a similar instance in Ionesco's Amedee where a corpse, symbolizing Amedee's dead love for his wife, keeps growing despite a l l his efforts to prevent i t s growth. The corpse in The Blacks symbolizes virulent hatred and F e l i c i t y ' s concern i s that i t should not diminish in s ize. Even Diouf, who advocates harmony and love with the whites, i s not free from pangs of resentment against them. He shows a l l the indecision and malleabi l ity of a black on whom the education and culture of the white man has been Imposed. But Diouf has found the white man's kindness oppressive: The kindness of the whites settled upon my head, as i t did upon yours. Though i t rested there l i ght ly , i t was unbearable. Their intel l igence descended upon.:aiy right shoulder, and a whole flock of virtues upon my l e f t . And at times, when I opened my hands, I would find their charity nestling there. (pp. 32-33) Heither faction accepts him, each finding in him tra i t s of the opposite. He i s variously referred to as Mr. Clergyman and Vicar General in derisive tones and f ina l l y , for talking love, he i s made to undergo the ultimate humiliation of womanising himself. 89 The blacks excel In different forms of hatred. As they think of hatred as their prerogative and love as the white man's, they invent new ways of showing hatred. They gather around the cof f in smoking cigarettes and singing "Mary had a l i t t l e lamb" and the gesture of profanity causes great anguish to the whites. The l i t t l e hate gestures culminate in the sadistic murder and the execution of the court. An equal measure of masochism i s exhibited by the blacks who play out their roles as imagined by the whites. They deliberately abase themselves, creating a picture of vulgarity and meanness: ...Thieves that we are, we have tr ied to f i l c h your f ine language. Liars that we are, the names I have mentioned to you are false. (p. 14) This self -torture has the merit of insulating the whites at the same time by exaggerating their virtues by implication and thus hinting at their questionabillty. Vi l lage and Virtue are the only characters the dramatist allows to indulge in mutual expressions of love. Curiously enough, V i l lage ' s love for Virtue i s rea l ly a love-hate relationship that has Oedipal overtones. He associates her symbolically with Af r i ca , the Mother of the Blacks, and professes a hatred of her while at the same time he makes a declaration of love: ...And I began to hate you when everything around you would have kindled my love and when love would have made men's contempt unbearable and their contempt would have made my love unbearable. The fact i s , I hate you. Oh darkness, stately mother of my race, shadow, sheath that swathes me from top to toe, long sleep 90 in which the f ra i les t of your children would love to be shrouded, I know not whether you are beautiful, but you are Af r i ca , 0 monumental night, and I hate you. (pp. 36-37) Archibald hints at the Mother in Virtue when he t e l l s Village,"She can...bring you what most resembles love: tenderness. In her arms, you w i l l be her ch i ld , not her lover." (p. 39) Virtue, in turn, identi f ies herself with the white Queen who, in her turn, has her counterpart in the black Fe l i c i t y . The three women personify the synthesis of two pairs of opposites: black and white and love and hate. The theme naturally follows from this feature of the characterization. Love and hate are mutually inclusive principles as black, and white are. The Times's review of the Royal Court Theatre's production of The Blacks sums up the theme in a homorous vein: There i s a wide choice of morals to be drawn, some milder than others, but the one that leaps to the eye i s that whites and blacks are brother devils under the skin. 5 Each of the two worlds - the blacks' and the whites' - shares the attributes of the other. Sexually and socia l ly they desire each other. Black t ra i t s of hatred and cruelty have to be suppressed by the whites as the white t ra i t s of tenderness and love have to be suppressed by the blacks. Neither group i s wholly successful in i t s attempt. Genet propagates the creed of se l f purification,which i s the freeing of oneself from a l l a l ien influences. Since he believes his own true nature to be e v i l , se l f pur i f icat ion for him means the rejection of conventional morality. In the case of the black, Genet sees the colour of his skin as the true rea l i ty of his nature, and se l f pur i f icat ion for a black would be to aim for a complete blackness, free from a l l white influences. I f whiteness represents love, blackness can only represent i t s opposite, hatred. This i s why Vi l lage and Virtue are not free to love each other so long as they hold the tradit ional 'white' concept of romantic love. Virtue attempts to solve the problem by urging Vi l lage to invent a new black formula of love, and the Governor and the Missionary react with alarm, for the new power of a black love would be a direct threat to the white's supremacy. "Damn i t , they're going to gum up the works!" exclaims the Governor (p. 42). But Vi l lage finds that his language i s tainted with white vocabulary and that he i s not black enough to love Virtue. The remedy to .this dilemma l ie s only in k i l l i n g the whites with hatred and then being free to love his lady. Paradoxically, the ev i l act of murder i s a means of se l f pur i f icat ion for the blacks in the play. Storywise, Vi l lage and Virtue are united in love after the whites have been k i l l e d . Thematlcally, however, the black-white d ia lect ic reveals the attraction between the two opposites and i t i s only a question of time when black love w i l l be superseded by white love. In staging The Blacks. Genet wants the hos t i l i t y borne by the blacks to be extended to the audience. He ins ists that his play be performed only by black actors and spec i f ica l ly for white audiences. In fact, when Jerzy Lisowski, who had translated The Blacks into Pol i sh* requested permission to produce the play, Genet refused i t on the ground that no Polish negroes were available to act in i t . It i s quite clear from Genet's instructions that the audience i s to be the target of the insults heaped on the whites: This p lay. . . . i s Intended for a white audience but i f , which i s unl ikely, i t i s ever performed before a black audience, then a white person, male or female, should be invited every evening. 92 The organizers of the show should welcome him formally, dress him in ceremonial costume and lead him to his seat, preferably in the front row of the orchestra. The actors w i l l play for him. A spotlight should be focused upon this symbolic white throughout the performance. But what i f no white person accepted? Then let white masks be distributed to the black spectators as they enter the theatre. And i f the blacks refuse the masks, then let a dummy be used. ° The next step i s the symbolic ident i f icat ion of the audience with the masked whites of the court. The court i s already separated from the blacks by the different physical levels of the stage and their s imi lar i ty with the audience i s established by their being the stage audience of the blacks l ike the larger one in the auditorium. Further, Archibald, the Master of Ceremonies, addresses himself sometimes to the court and sometimes to the audience. Then, the blacks proceed to indulge their hatred of the whites by showing them as a diseased, hypocrit ical race. The most spectacular device by which the blacks project their hatred i s the mask. The: masking i s meant to.suggest the essential blackness of the whites, their repression and dupl ic ity. It is also a caricature of the whites. Throughout the play, the blacks exaggerate the social graces of the whites in their perfectly orchestrated laughter and their mincing gestures and words. They exaggerate also their own relat ive savagery and bad taste which, again, i s a caricature of the whites' notion of the blacks. "We are what they want us to be," , says Archibald, "We shal l therefore be i t to the very end, absurdly" (p. 126). Sarcasm and contempt couldn't go further. 93 D iou f s investiture in a blonde wig and mask i s yet another contemptuous gesture against the whites. He i s made to put on the mask representing the laughing face of a white woman, right before the audience. The intimation i s unmistakable. Diouf, the male masquerading as a female, becomes a figure of betrayal and promiscuity which the blacks associate with the whites. Ceremony i s used by the blacks, not tocreate a rapport of f r i e n d l i -ness between the actors and the spectators but in order to create a formal atmosphere that would discourage communication. There i s a deliberate attempt to bruise the sens ib i l i ty of the spectators by profaning orthodox rel igious practices as part of the ceremony. Thus D iou f s incarnation as Marie i s accompanied by blasphemous chants. Virtue recites "the Litany of the L i v id " as a parody of the l i tanies of the Blessed Virg in. Similarly, the blacks sing their words to the melody of the Dies Irae at the time of the murder. The Satanic or diabolic element in the ceremony shocks the audience, which i s precisely what Genet wants. There are direct and covert references to the element of cannibalism which i s part of the hatred borne the whites. "Let Negroes negrify themselves," says Archibald. Let them persist to the point of madness in what they are condemned to be, in their ebony, in their odour, in their yellow eyes, i n their cannibal tastes. Let them not be content with eating whites, but let them cook each other as we l l . . . (p. 52) At the beginning, as the blacks gather around the catafalque, Snow bites into a flower which she associates with the dead woman and eats i t . This show of cruelty Is again meant for the spectators, who are expected to change towards the blacks, i f they change at a l l , "not out of indulgence but terror" (p. 52). The actors are also supposed to intimidate the audience by an aggressive deportment. However, in performance, this i s an extremely d i f f i c u l t thing to do, as noted by Whitney Ba l l iet in his review of the St. Marks Playhouse's production of The Blacks; The only time the cast displays the slightest weakness i s in the br ief sections where they confront and are meant to stare down the audience. These potential ly frightening moments simply don't come off. Perhaps i t was because the audience was an integrated, maskless one, in which blacks and whites laughed equally hard or were equally solemn. Genet hadn't thought of that. 7 Or, perhaps, in extending the blaek-white conf l ict into an actor-spectator confrontation, Genet has Inverted the tradit ional attitude of the two. The actors' psychological need for the spectators' approbation, and-the spectators' impersonal love of the a r t i s t s ' feat do not permit a personalized hate-relationship. Nevertheless, The Blacks comes nearest to such a v c relationship in performance. It i s said that Eugene Ionesco le f t midway through the premiere of The Blacks due to a feeling that he was being attacked personally by the actors.8 The stage sets for The Blacks seemed designed with the love-hate polarity in mind. The f i r s t production had symbolic sets and l ighting: They were made up of iron bars covered over by asbestos. The asbestos made the iron bars look more pl iable. It was a stark and yet soft set. From the orchestra, the decor looked l ike a giant sculpture. With proper manipulation of l ights i t assumed different shapes, different colours and moods. It reflected and participated in the action of the play. 9 95 The love-hate d ia lect ic i s also symbolically represented in the stage positions of the actors. The blacks who are the dominated class are on the lower level of the stage and the whites are on the higher level . Roger B l i n , in his production, placed Virtue d irect ly below the Queen and he was r ight. The curiously ambivalent relations between the blacks and the whites i s explored in the scene where the symbolic identity of the two women is established. Virtue, in a state of somnambulance, describes 1 herself as white and the Queen, who s ignif icantly i s also half asleep at the time, recites along with Virtue a eulogy of whiteness. Together, they address Vi l lage and declare that they love him. Then, suddenly, the Queen wakes up and cries that the other two have stolen her voice. It i s a dramatic method of conveying, through the actors' positions and voices, the union of the opposites, love and hate. As for the language of The Blacks, i t shows a preoccupation with love and hate. The terms occur frequently and are used interchangeably at times, as in Vi l lage 's outburst to Virtue. The language polarises the two opposites by means of colour- identif icat ion. Blue i s the colour of beauty associated with the Caucasian race. It Is synonymous with love. When Vi l lage states his love for Virtue, she describes herself as "the l i ly-white Queen of the West, . . . immaculate, pleasing to the eye and the soul" and apostrophises: Oh eye of mine, del icately shaded i r i s , bluish i r i s , i r i s of the g lac iers . . . . (p. 44) Again, Vi l lage , reenacting the seduction of the white woman, speaks of "the limpidity of your blue eyes" while looking at Virtue, to whom he says, "I love you and I can't bear i t any longer" (p. 67). I f blue i s 96 the colour of love, black i s the colour of hatred. Archibald and his troupe 'beautify 1 themselves with shoe blacking. Coal and tar are to the blacks what the l i l y and i r i s are to the whites. Hatred i s the inspiration for poetry in The Blacks while love untinged with hate i s not even relevant. "Invent, not love, but hatred," says Archibald, "and thereby make poetry, since that's the only domain in which we are allowed to operate." (p. 26) It i s the blacks whose hatred i s open who dominate the show. Some of the most poetic passages in the play are in V i l lage ' s seduction speech and the variety of images i s truly amazing. By contrast, the language of the whites who mask their hatred in a cultivated graclousness i s vapid and du l l . Though the sentiments of blacks and whites to each other are s imilar, the tactics of showing them d i f fe r . The court reveals i t s hatred insidiously so that i t almost seems to be the opposite sentiment of love. "Be fr iend-ly. . . . Mention Dr. Livingstone," advises the Missionary (p. 105). Even while threatening the blacks with execution, the court assures them of pardon and absolution f i r s t . The blacks re ly on the sheer force of their hatred and induce the whites, by psychological coercion, to believe in their death: You are pale but you are becoming transparent. Fog that d r i f t s over my land, you w i l l vanish utter ly. (p. 103) The language also ref lects the cruel pleasure in physical torture. The blacks dwell on the gruesome detai ls of slaughter : "You ' l l have your head s l iced of f , but s l iced into s l i ce s , " Archibald t e l l s the Judge (p.119). Their cruelty has the bizarre aspect of cannibalism as they 97 talk of the culinary poss ib i l i t ies of murder. Archibald ca l l s for recipes and sauces for knee caps, shinbones, and calves (p. 52). There Is frequent talk of cooking and eating the whites. The whites are fu l l y capable of showing cruelty and hatred l ike the blacks. The members of the white court reveal their sadism in g leeful ly contemplating the severe punishments they can impose on the black culpr i ts . The Judge's words reveal both his vindictlveness and his ghoul-ish delight in torture: . . . . a Negro's a Negro and a l l we need i s two arms, two legs to break, and neck to put into the noose, and our just ice i s sat i s f ied. (p. 109) The Governor, for his part, reels off a l i s t of possible methods of execution: ^bullet in his head and calves, spurts of sal iva, bowie knives, bayonets, pop guns, poisons of our Medicls.... (p. 99) I f the normal purpose of language i s to communicate, i t s use in The Blacks i s to create the opposite effect on the audience. The spectators are often addressed in words of contempt: . . . . In order that you be assured that there i s no danger of such drama's worming i t s way into your precious l i ves , we shal l even have the decency - a decency learned from you -to make communication impossible. (p. 12) In The Balcony. Irma's words to the "rebels who allow the revolt to congeal" (p. 96) are in a tone of contemptuous p i ty. In The Blacks, there i s no room for p ity In their all-consuming hatred, which contains every other emotion, even love. In the last play, The Screens, the action i s characterized by hatred once again. Events of sadism and masochism are the order of the day. The hero, Said, commits a number of host i le acts on himself and on others in order to achieve total i so lat ion. His masochism begins with his marriage to Le i l a , a g i r l so ugly she never removes the ve i l from her face. At work, Said i s r idiculed by his fellow workers, and at home, he and his mother exercise unmitigated cruelty towards Le i l a . When his potential for hatred erupts into ant i -socia l act iv i t ies of thieving, Le i l a follows suit. Both look for means of i n f l i c t i ng pain on themselves and are overjoyed on being je l led for theft. They also cult ivate a f i l t hy appearance and offesive body odour. As they journey to their deaths, Said puts out Le i l a ' s eye. Then, as the grand f inale to his career in ev i l negation, he betrays the Arabs to the French. Having destroyed everything around him, he finds absolute solitude. It i s precisely then that he i s hailed as the supreme hero and wooed by both the l iv ing and the dead. He defies both, and then boasts about his chance of se l l ing himself to the highest bidder. Before he can do anything more, he i s shot dead by the soldiers, but he achieves tota l disintegration in death and does not go to the realm of the dead. In the story of Said, love and hate are irreconci lable. His progress towards absolute negativity requires his severing the bonds of love. He destroys friendship by stealing from his co-workers, but destroying family bonds that engender love i s more d i f f i c u l t . Said abandons his mother and wife to the castigation of the v i l lage. It should be easier to hate an ugly wife than a beautiful one and he begins his hate programme by taunting Le i l a with her ugliness. I ronical ly, her pride in her ugliness and her masochism e l i c i t his grudging admiration and they grow closer 99 together in prison. Said i s so afraid of being lost in the positive feeling of love that in one scene, when Le i la t r ies to comb her hair, he snatches away the comb and te l l s her angrily not to beautify herself, for i t might make him forget his project of hate. The last stage in his pursuit of negativity i s to reject society. By poisoning thetwater trough of the Arabs, he displays a hatred of his own countrymen. Said's acts of hatred, however, are not the result of anything done to him by others but rather the means to an end - his goal of Non-being. In the subplot, Warda, the whore, takes great pride in being the v i l lage pariah hated by housewives. But her status as a unique being i s lost once the war ends and she i s accepted by the bourgois society. She decides to die in order to regain the status she has lost and submits passively to her cruci f ix ion. The subplot, too, thus develops the subject of masochism. The action of the play gives prominence to hatred yet again In the relationship between the colonists and the Arabs. The. Arab. e©rkers at Sir Harold's plantation refer to him as their Father, and ostensibly a fr iendly relationship exists between them. But he shows his suspicion of his workers when he leaves his glove-to watch them. They, in their turn, set f i r e to his orange grove and reveal their hatred. Since The Screens develops the most unusual actions, i t i s not surprising that the characterization i s more complex than i n the other plays. The protagonists reject the tradit ional values of the bourgeois society and create an inverted system of values. The new system gives 100 pr ior i ty to those aspects of l i f e which are considered despicable by the bourgeois. Hence, where normal men and women desire love, the characters of The Screens desire i t s opposite, hatred. Both Said and Le i la str ive to suppress feelings of love. They view love as a detriment to the attainment of their goal. Said confesses later that i t was not easy to shut out feelings of love for his wife: I am not saying I was never on the point of weakening, a tenderness, l ike the shadow of a leaf trembling above us, ready to al ight, but I'd take hold of myself. (p. 190) Like Said, Warda too finds that i t takes effort to cult ivate ha t red . 1 0 She i s furious when the vi l lagers are fr iendly, because she has worked hard to earn their hatred, not friendship. Unlike Said, who has to work at i t , the Mother has a natural f l a i r for hatred and ample reasons for venting i t . She hates her daughter-in-laws ugliness, and she hates the v i l lage women who ostracize her. She i d proud of her vocabulary of insults and abuses and, when words f a i l her, conveys her ho s t i l i t y by means of animal sounds. Most of the characters attach a sp i r i tua l value to their acts of hatred. In Genet's view, masochism i s a form of se l f pur i f icat ion, even i f i t should be achieved by means of criminal ity. Said's hate acts towards society and towards himself make him an ascetic in Genet's view. Le i la invokes her ugliness when demanding of Said that he know only hatred and never love, because she knows Said w i l l value her masochism. Again, Kadidja, who urges the Arabs to commit crimes, t e l l s them to c a l l upon God for inspiration: If you can't find any more crimes, steal crimes from heaven, i t ' s bursting with them! Wrangle 101 the murders of the gods, their rapes, their f i re s , their incest, their l i e s , their butcheries! (p. 102) To Genet, whose thoughts are steeped in re l ig ion and whose crimes were dedicated to God, i t i s not at a l l contradictory that God,whom we identify with love,should inspire hatred and sanction crime. However, there i s a/significant difference between Le i la and Kadidja, who both pursue e v i l . Le i l a ' s cult of hatred and ev i l i s practised for i t s own sake, as part of her negativity, while Radidja's hatred i s a po l i t i c a l weapon. She invokes ev i l to produce hatred,which in i t s turn engenders more e v i l . Kadidja talks of the Arabs as her 'sons' and her attitude towards them i s maternal. She encourages them in acts of terrorism which are perpetrated on the colonists. Love and hate are channeled in two directions while Le i l a ' s (as well as Said's) hatred lacks direction. While some characters attach a sp i r i tua l value to hatred, others find i t of aesthetic value. The French soldiers find that cruelty i s integrated with beauty. Putting the uniform on, with his different medals, the lieutenant i s a participant in a ceremony. (In The Balcony, the Bishop, who i s a narciss ist , performs a similar ceremony when he puts on his mitre and robes.) The soldiers are said to be more cruel when in complete uniform. Here again, love and hate work in opposite directions, a hatred of the enemy vying with narc iss i st ic love of the soldiers. The sergeant's words on the subject are, "My beauty grew with my cruelty, one heightening the other." (p. 201) The theme of The Screens presents love and hate as opposites but also suggests that they are similar and could be mistaken for one another. In 102 Said's epic of sel f destruction, we find that absolute isolat ion i s e achiyed only through hatred. Love binds men; hatred separates them. Said, who gets his true identity by communing with himself in solitude, shows hatred of a l l others, even his own family, in order to be alone. The person who earns the contempt and hatred of the world i s , according to Genet, truly unique. The more Said betrays his people, the more he i s held in esteem. Warda, likewise, feels she has become a nobody when the housewives exchange friendly greetings with her. In order to regain her uniqueness, she has to die in extreme physical pain as the v i l lage women Indulge their hatred by sticking knitt ing needles in her. In Genet's view, masochism and sadism are simply the result of the recognition of the Other in ourselves. I f the Self proclaims love, the Other dreams hate, towards others and towards the Self. It is usual to maintain a clean appearance and str ive for a beautiful appearance. Said and Le i l a , who are personifications of the Other, deliberately cult ivate a physical stench. On the subject of sexual love, there i s l i t t l e else besides i t s interchangeabillty with hatred. Said and Le i la find i t a detriment to their goal. For the European couple, Mr. and Mrs. Blankensee, love i s only hate in masquerade. Mrs. Blankensee even states that sexual love in the past was an act of betrayal between man and woman. When her husband comes to her without the i l l u s ion of his imposing bulk, after the maid had discovered ihe padding, she shoots and k i l l s him. 103 Staging procedures aim at conveying the sense of hatred which Is so Important in The Screens. In one scene, a theatrical representation of ev i l and hate Is given in the form of pictures drawn by the Arabs on movable screens. Kadidja ca l l s the Arabs one by one and asks what they have done to further the cause of e v i l , and in reply, each man draws a picture. Drawings of mutilated limbs, f i res l i t to destroy property and bloodstains denoting acts of violence f i l l the screens. The shock effect of the scene does not l i e in the pictures themselves but in the mode of drawing which shows that the characters savour their cruelty. One of the Arab8, M'Hamed, boasts that he plucked out a heart. He draws a heart on the screen and leaves, but Kadidja ca l l s him back. "That heart looks o ld , " she complains. The man goes back to the screen and draws a few spirals above the heart. " It 's s t i l l steaming, Kadidja," he says, and the old woman i s sat isf ied (p. 99). In his letter to Roger B l in , Genet specifies 11 that the Arabs should look happy when they draw the pictures. The movements and gestures of the characters frequently convey their hatred. Many of them give a glimpse into the best ia l side of their nature by 'becoming' animals. The Mother, who i s prevented from mourning the dead rebel screams insults at the v i l lage women. Her feelings are so venemous that she refers to them as the pack of dogs gathering in her bel ly. As the women leave her, she turns to them, and, "with her hands on her thighs, unlooses in the direction of the right wing,into which the women disappeared, a torrent of barks that seem to come from a pack of dogs." (p. 45) When Le i l a enters, she barks with the Mother and at the women at f i r s t . Then, suddenly, the rapport breaks and the two face each other as enemies. The stage directions c lear ly Indicate a scene r i f e with hate. "The Mother turns around, and seeing Le i l a , starts barking at her, and the two women are suddenly dogs about to devour each other." (p. 45) Farmyard sounds previously established a mood of amity - almost of love - between them and the same kind of sound now expresses antagonism. The Screens u t i l i ze s sound effects very cleverly to produce moods of love and hatred. Most of the characters are masked and nearly a l l are heavily made up. The dehumanized and abstracted features of the mask suggest more easi ly the propensity for cruelty and violence. In the pictures we have of Roger Blin*s production, Warda's mask clearly suggests her hos t i l i t y towards society. By contrast, Said, whose capacity for self -torture exceeds his desire for aggression, i s unmasked. The unmasked face looks more vulnerable beside the masked one. The l ighting on the stage also accompanies the mood of the play. 12 It should be harsh and very l ight. Genet refers to i t as " c rue l " . The language of The Screens makes no concessions to decorum. It i s frequently coarse or v iolent ly abusive. The Intent to hurt another i s reflected very c lear ly in some of the speeches, as in the Mother's advice to Le i l a : "Since you're ugly, be i d i o t i c . And don't slobber." (p. 26) Said makes an equally cruel rejoinder when Le i la asks him where they are to go: "Where I'm going, me, and me alone, since you're my misfortunate and nothing but." (p. 108) The imagery i s also very repulsive, dwelling on pictures of physical decay and f i l t h . There i s such an insistence on scatological images with repeated references to foul smell that the spectators seem to be rea l ly offended by such smells. In fact, Genet's obsession with Images of excrementalism has led to some students r e t l t l l n g the play, "Six 13 Characters in Search of a Bathroom." When we examine the language of The Screens careful ly, i t becomes clear to us that i t i s Genet's verbal aggression on our world - the bourgeois world that is his anathema. It i s this world that i s being taken to pieces in the action, theme and language of the play. A l l the obscenities and violence conveyed through the language are Genet's gesture of hatred towards the spectators of the bourgeois world. It must be noted that the most indecent language i s spoken by females In the play, which i s an added attack on bourgeois sensit iv i ty. The audience, too, r ises to the bait rather easi ly. The performance of The Screens at the Odeon Theatre de France in 1966 broke up due to angry and violent reactions 14 from the audience. In a letter to B l in , Genet says that he wished the spectators to leave the theatre with the taste of ashes in their mouth 14 and the smell of decay in their nostr i l s . They would, i f they and the actors could see the play through to i t s end. The three last plays of Genet are said to have a cathartic effect on the spectators. 1 5 The acts of hate and the v i t r i o l i c language of The  Blacks and The Screens in particular could provide an escape valve for the spectators' emotive energy. On the other hand, they could well frustrate us by shoving, i n a l l three plays, hatred as the dominant component i n the polar ity between i t and love. 106 NOTES  CHAPTER III 1. Jean Genet, 'Comment Jouer Le Balcon', Le Balcon (L'arbalete 1960) p. 8. 2. Kenneth Tynan, 'The Image of Power" In "Something for Everybody", The Observer ( Apr i l 28, 1957), reprinted in The Theatre of Jean  Genet; A Casebook ed. Richard Coe ( New York: Grove Press, 1970 ) p. 87. 3. There i s a faint suggestion of animalism in the executioner's costume and bearing. The best ia l element i s very prominent in ; Genet:'. 8.. ma j or. plays. Both here and in The Blacks, display of lust has general associations of best ia l i ty . In the latter play, Vi l lage, when he seduces Marie, compares himself to a panther. Note that in The Balcony, the Judge ca l l s the Executioner 'Cerberus'. 4. Time. Apr i l 18, 1960. pp. 54-56. 5. The Times (London) , May 31, 1961. 6. The playwright's note appears just before the dramatis personae in Bernard Frechtman's translation of The Blacks. 7. Whitney Ba l l i e t , The New Yorker. May 13, 1961. p. 94. 8. Bettina Knapp, Jean Genet ( New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1968 ) p. 131. 9. Roger B l in , quoted by Bettina Knapp, 'Interview with Roger B l i n ' , Tulane Drama Review. Spring 1963. p. 118. 10. Genet's view that i t takes a lot of effort to practise ev i l i s shared by Brecht. In his short poem The Mask of Ev i l ( Die Maske des Bbsen ) Brecht observes that i t i s a great strain to be e v i l . 11. Jean Genet, Lettres a Roger B l i n . p. 51. "Celui qui dessine les comes arrive aupres de Kadidja en chaloupant, les mains derriere le dos. Tous doivent etre joyeux." 12. Jean Genet, Ib id., p. 15: "Et en plus, sur la scene, une lumiere s i cruel le! Mais c 'est ce q u ' i l faut." 13. For this information, I am indebted to Le t i t i a and Wallace Dace, The Theatre Student: Modern Theatre and Drama ( New York: Richards Rosen Press, 1973 ) p. 100. 14. The incident i s recorded in Theatre of Jean Genet, ed. Richard Coe ( New York: Grove Press, 1970 ) pp. 149-151. 15. Robert Brustein, The Theatre of Revolt ( Boston: L i t t l e , Brown & Co. 1964 ) p. 390. "Each of his books i s a c r i s i s of cathartic possession, a psychodrama..." 108 CHAPTER IV  ANARCHY AND ORDER Genet i s the ideal anarchist. He revolts, not against any one inst i tut ion in particular, but against institutionalism per se. He detests any form of commitment. Yet his plays are often considered to be works of p o l i t i c a l commitment. In at least one play, The Screens, some of the important experiences of the European Left have been included. Nevertheless, Genet cannot be called the spokesman of this p o l i t i c a l wing. His anarchism transcends the narrow confines of po l i t i c s . The undeniably p o l i t i c a l content of the three last plays i s only a format for exploring various forms of individualism. This individualism, identi f ied with the forces of anarchy, has meaning only in the context of col lect ive organization , since i t is a revolt against such order. Hence, Genet's plays present both sides of the issue - anarchy and order -as seen in a r t , po l i t i c s and social relations. Though Genet loves total anarchy, i . e . , a revolt against the very concept of law and order, he has to admit , through characters l ike Roger, that i t is impracticable. The revolution i s always a fa i lure in in Genet's plays, since i t nu l l i f i e s i t s raison d'etre as soon as i t i s organized. The p o l i t i c a l revolutions of The Balcony. The Blacks and The Screens a l l establish a new order, which has retained the worst characteristics of the old, and so are fa i lures. In the action of the plays, then, anarchy and order are alternating phases, each originating 109 from the other. In the characterization of these plays, the opposites are seen as the contrasting t ra i t s of individualism and co l lec t i v i ty . Again, much as Genet upholds individualism, the individual rebel, l i ke Roger of The Balcony, i s defeated. In The Blacks, Vi l lage and Virtue, who rebel against the recognized mode of courtship, s t i l l have to love according to a black law. It i s only in The Screens that individualism comes closest to triumph, in the character of Said, but here the individual himself i s destroyed in the process. Thematically, the d ia lect ic takes the shape of other absolutes, art vs. p o l i t i c a l rea l i ty or anarchic ugliness vs. discipl ined beauty. While the difference in ideology between the anarchists and the Establishment i s indicated in different stage levels in the f i r s t two plays, The Blacks and The  Screens emphasize the dist inct ion further in the different costumes and in the language used as well. In the f ina l analysis, though Genet's convictions favour the negativism implied by anarchy, his pract ical mind makes order the winning element in the plays. The dramatic action of The Balcony pivots around the conf l ict between the established order of the state and the revolutionaries. The rebels are opposed to the symbol-ridden institutions of the Establishment. But the institutions mean social organization which ensures order. The rationale of the revolution, which seeks to destroy the images of the Establishment, would rea l ly destroy the order created by those images. The real conf l ict i s , therefore, between anarchy and organization. The rebel l ion i s doomed when the rebels begin to demand their own symbols and banners. Chantal, whom Roger rescued from the brothel, i s 110 bartered for a hundred women and becomes the men's Inspiration. A revolt cannot be faceless and the men need a grand image to fight the images of the Balcony. It i s a case of the means defeating the end, as the revolt has to be organized in order to destroy social organization. Po l i t i c a l l y , the revolution is successful, at least temporarily, and the rebels k i l l the Queen, Judge, Bishop and the General. The c r i s i s occurs after th is , as the men have not visualized anything beyond the destruction. Order has to prevail and at the suggestion of the Envoy, the places of the Queen, Judge, Bishop and General are taken by the brothel impostors. Thus, in the f i r s t round of the batt le, order triumphs over anarchy. In the ranks of the Establishment, a fresh complication sets in now, in the form of a power struggle. The Bishop, Judge and General decide to reorganize the clergy, magistracy and the army. The Bishop wants to appoint new priests and introduce reforms in the clergy while the Judge wishes to draft b i l l s and revise the regal code. Governmental organization works on a hierarchical principle and the distr ibution of power raises the question of the relat ive superiority of the Queen and her of f icers . So far, the roles of the Great Figures had been tradit ional , presenting the Images of the Establishment to society. Their decision to make their ornaments 'useful ' poses a threat to the Chief of Police, the man of action who exercises the power behind the inst itut ions. I ronical ly, while the men who l i ve in images want to become active, he, the active agent, longs to become an image in the bordello. Unt i l such time when :?he i s consecrated as. an inst i tut ion himself, he has to do the work of the established inst itut ions, maintaining order in the state. The ambition of the Bishop and the Judge now presages the disintegration of images, which would lead to anarchy. The problem i s resolved when the dis i l lusioned Roger asks to imitate the Chief of Police in Irma's studio. With his apotheosis achieved by Roger' s self-muti lation, the Chief of Police ret ires from the l i s t s to be an eternal image In the brothel, leaving the f i e ld of action to the three Great Figures. Unconsciously, Roger helps to perpetuate the order against which he revolted, by restoring the equilibrium of power. The action thus shows order to be the stronger element in the polarity between i t and anarchy. However, Genet also shows that the very existence of order invites anarchy. At the end of the play, when the power dispute i s sett led, a fresh revolution begins outside and the d ia lect ic io set in motion again. The characters of The Balcony i l lu s t ra te the tension between anarchy and order by their varying allegiances. Two figures emerge as diametric opposites: Roger and the Chief of Pol ice. The Chief of Pol ice, who represents order, knows only too well the sanctity of images and the hold they have over popular imagination. Roger, on the other hand, rebels against the very idea of images and the whole a r t i f i ce of the government. It i s inevitable by the law of opposites that, when Roger arrives at the balcony to play a ro le, he should choose that of his arch enemy, the Chief of Pol ice. In castrating himself and playing the role to i t s absolute end, he gets the vicarious satisfaction of destroying the order that the other man represents but, i t Is, at the same time, an admission of his own defeat. Chantal: i s another character whose ideal i s tota l l iberation but she, too, f a i l s to achieve i t . She has escaped the sham l i f e of the balcony and wishes to be an individual but, conscripted in the service of the revolution, she has no scope for individual ity. As the men haggle over her, she realizes that even in the ranks of the anarchists, there are categories and groupings and no one can be detached from these: THE MAN: I'm asking you to let us have her for two hours. ROGER: Chantal belongs.... CHANTAL: (Standing up) To nobody! ROGER: ....To my section. THE MAN: To the insurrection! (pp. 55-56) Irma and her cl ients are, of course, champions of the established order. Among the figures of the Balcony, there i s a further d ist inct ion. The Chief of Police personifies the active element in the organization, while the Bishop, Judge and General typify the passive element. Genet seems to feel that the dist inct ion i s v i t a l to the survival of the organization. When the Three Figures indicate that they would actively exercise power, Irma holds them in check by insinuating that she would c a l l a halt to the masquerade by relegating them to the status of brothel c l ients once again. Once the active agent of power, the Chief of Police, disappears from the scene, she carries out her threat and resumes her ro le as keeper of a bawdy house. The whores of the Grand Balcony typify the union of two contraries, order and anarchy. In their r i tua ls with the customers of the brothel, they rehearse the organized relationships of the p o l i t i c a l world. At the same time, they are, by the very nature of their profession, rebels 113 against social ethics. Richard Coe remarks on the prostitute's s imi lar i ty with the ar t i s t In this respect: Like him, she i s sacred - she i s the very symbol of transgression, just as art i t s e l f i s , at bottom, a transgression that stinks in the nostr i l s of a l l right thinking people. And at the same time, she i s herself a work ^ of art. She i s a l l appearance, a l l i l l u s i on . The idea of the whore being a rebel i s further developed by Genet in his characterization of Warda in The Screens. The Balcony orchestrates the theme that total anarchy i s a myth. The behaviour of the revolutionaries i l lustrates this point. Roger's mistake i s to make the revolt a movement of pure reason. He makes no allowance for the emotional element in the uprising.which i s a decisive factor. The dissent within the rebel camp i s the conf l ict of reason with imagination. The entire sixth scene i s a debate on this conf l i c t , and, needless to say, reason cannot win in "a combat of al legories" (p. 57). Genet's sympathies are with the Individual rebel, but not with the mass revolt. The mass movement corrodes the very sp i r i t of anarchism , because i t i s organized into categories, slogans and emblems. Every revolt i s a fa i lure in the long run, since, instead of changing the world, i t becomes a ref lect ion of the order It sought to destroy. Roger sums up the disenchantment of the dramatist with popular insurrection.; when he te l l s Carmen, "And what's the saddest of a l l i s people saying: 'The rebel l ion was wonderful!' " (p. 89) The stage props and costumes of the play highlight the contrast between the anarchic and the organized styles of l i v ing . In the sixth 114 scene, which takes place in the rebel camp, we see the machine guns of the revolutionaries pointing at the Grand Balcony which i s v i s ib le in the distance. The sight of the guns br i s t l ing about the place suggests at once the isolat ion of the Balcony, i . e . the Establishment, from the rest of the world and also the threat to i t s security from forces of anarchism. The men, dressed in inconspicuous black sweaters and suits, are a te l l ing contrast to the Establishment figures,whose ceremonial costumes and insignia bear witness to their reliance on external appearances.' While the revolutionaries appear normal sized, the Bishop, Judge, and Genetal wear cothurni and shoulder pads to appear larger than l i f e . It i s a theatrical indication of the immensity and strength of established order. There are constant visual reminders that the homage paid to this order i s not for the men themselves, but for their robes of o f f i ce , which are symbols. We see the Balcony figures repeatedly preening before a mirror. The court Envoy, who i s already immaculately dressed in embassy uniform, takes a whole col lect ion of decorations from his pocket and pins i t on to his tunic after he has persuaded Irma to become the Queen. In Genet's works, the uniform, as a symbol of organized power, i s sacred. Irma's brothel i s i t s e l f a highly structured institution,with i t s organized relationships of employer, employees, and business partners. The view finder, earphone, and bel l s we see are important para-phernalia of the organization and help Irma to keep a s t r i c t check on her employees and to hear reports on what goes on In her studios. 115 The impression that the place i s a business inst i tut ion i s strengthened in the f i f t h scene.where we see Irma seated at a desk going over the accounts while Carmen counts the day's takings. As the latter counts methodically, "the General, twenty... the sa i lor , twenty... the brat, t h i r t y . . . " , Irma interrupts her book-keeping with the admonition that she should show respect for the ' v i s i t o r s ' and then, " f l a sh i l y snaps the sheaf of bank notes she has in her; hand" (p. 29). The whole scene underlines the binding structures and, at the same time, the economic strength of the inst i tut ion. Lastly, there i s the visual symbol of the Balcony i t s e l f . Le Grand Balcon, by i t s very t i t l e , i s reminiscent of an elevation from which those in power look down upon the proletariat.. And i t i s the proletariat that breeds the anarchists. The difference between the Balcony and the populace i s one of social class, as we real ize when we see the beggar appearing on the stage d i rect ly below the Queen. The l ighting, too, plays up the difference between anarchy and order. Bright l ights are characteristic of the Balcony. There are mirrors and chandeliers everywhere, and the last time we see Irma she i s extinguishing the l ights: "It took so much l i ght . . . two pounds' worth of e lec t r i c i t y a day!" (p. 95) The rebels, on the other hand, are seen in semi-darkness, which i s consistent with the subversive nature of their ac t i v i t ie s . The public squarejwhere Roger and Chantal swear love to each other in the presence of the other rebels, has patches of shadow. The language of the play takes the serious tone of an inte l lectua l debate in distinguishing the bourgeois characteristics from the revolu-116 tionary ideals. Inhumanity and hardness are inferred as the qual it ies of the Establishment. The language ref lects these t ra i t s right at the beginning in the opening lines of the Bishop: "In truth, the mark of a prelate i s not mildness or unction, but the most rigorous intel l igence." A l i t t l e while later, he amends his statement: It is something quite other than intell igence that i s involved... It may be cruelty. And beyond that cruelty - and through i t - a s k i l f u l , vigorous course towards Absence. Towards Death. (p. 7) It i s the rebels who practise the ideals of humanitarianism and just ice, though that just ice might require the destruction of the aristocracy.: f i r s t . Nevertheless, the humanitarianism i s a sign of weakness and intolerable sentimentality, and.: any reference to i t i s quite cynical. "In every revolution there's the g lor i f ied whore who sings an anthem and i s v i r g i n i f i ed , " comments Irma. "...The others'11 piously bring water for the dying to drink . Afterwards... t h e y ' l l marry you o f f . " (P. 39) The structured a r t i f i ce of the established order i s alluded to d i rect ly or indirect ly by those in the Balcony. Their exchanges with one another and with the Queen indicate a feudal system of loyalty. As the Chief of Police te l l s the Three Figures, ...above you, more sublime than you, i s the Queen. I t ' s from her, for the time being, that you derive your power and your rights. Above her - that to which she refers - i s our standard, on which I've blazoned the image of Chantal Victorious, our Saint. (pp. 82-83) The Bishop continues, "Above Her Majesty whom we venerate, and above her f lag, i s God, Who speaks through my voice." There i s no al lusion to any such t ight ly oig anized relationships among the revolutionaries. The lack of direction, ascribed generally to anarchism i s sensed in Roger's poignant words, "None of us knows any longer why we revolted." (p. 57) The off ices of the established order owe their eminence to the hierat ic sanction of centuries. There are several amplifications of the theme by the Bishop, the Envoy and others. The speeches about tradit ion are made in a rhetorical vein and the language i s bombastic: For more centuries than I can t e l l , the centuries have worn themselves thin ref ining me... subt i l iz ing me... (p. 60) Act iv i t ies concerned with the Revolt.which i s anti-tradit ional,are described in rea l i s t i c language, often., even a flippant style of speech. The f i r s t photographer explains the tr icks played on the public by the media: When some rebels were captured, we paid a militiaman to bump off a chap I'd just sent to buy me a packet of cigarettes. The photo shows a rebel shot down while trying to escape. (p. 75) The language of The Balcony, I f ee l , i s the weak point in establishing the d ia lect ic between Anarchy and Order,, While the action, characteriz-ation and staging of the play incorporate the tension between the two principles very effect ively, the language tr ies to bring out the polarity by means of specious arguments. The case for and against anarchy i s developed step by step by men l ike the Chief of Fel ice. The language i s too rat ional , and there is no scope for the emotive power of poetry;.. This heavy handed treatment mars the d ia lect ic , but Genet rec t i f ie s 118 the defect in The Blacks by working into the language, very naturally, the polarity between anarchy and order, in the form of a contrast in imagery, voice patterns, and speeds of delivery. In The Blacks, the revolt i s against the system of social laws imposed on the blacks by the whites. It i s the confrontation with po l i t i c a l as well as social undercurrents, between the rulers and the ruled. The central action i s a crime that disrupts the social organiz-ation, the rape-murder of a white woman by a black. The white law-givers (played by masked blacks) come to try the criminals and sentence them, but the rebels triumph as the representatives of the established order are executed one by one. Thus, at the f i r s t level of action, the blacks, who embody the principles of lawlessness and anarchy,bring about a dissolution of the law and order represented by the whites. On a second plane of action, we are told of a black insurrection. A tra i tor to this cause, we learn, has been executed off-stage while we were engrossed in the murder on stage. As the actors discuss this execution with the messenger, we real ize that i t took place after a proper t r i a l , defense of the accused and other r i tes of just ice familiarized by the white man. Paradoxically, the blacks who oppose the whites* organization of their society have to implement the d isc ip l ine of that organization for the success of their revolt. The messenger also te l l s the blacks that a new leader has been elected to lead the insurgents. He w i l l organize and continue the fight against the whites. Everything has been "planned and prepared" for the success of the movement. Thus, to eradicate the old order, a new order comes into being. In the three phases of the dramatic action, the seeming triumph of anarchy i s seen to be a contradiction of i t s principles and the beginning of a new order. The characters in the play represent two dist inct ideologies. The whites' way of l i f e i s organization and system. The members of the court represent various institutions which shape the social and ethical laws according to which they and the blacks are governed. We have the images of The Balcony here in the persons of the Queen, the Bishop and the Judge besides the Governor and the Queen's valet. As their l ives have been governed by law aad order, their deaths follow the same pattern, and each goes to his death, even before the blacks shoot him, in order of rank, as specified by the Queen. The Governor i s the f i r s t and the va let , the last. Each i s conscious of his special ization in one particular department of Her Majesty's service and also of the repressive power he has held over the blacks as a member of the Establishment. "Colonial ly speaking, I've served the court we l l , " says the Governor. "I 've been given a thousand nicknames, which proved the Queen's esteem and the savage's fear." (p. 117) The Missionary reminds the blacks, It was I who brought you knowledge of H e l l . . . I have blessed brides and grooms, christened pickaninnies, ordained battalions of black priests, and I brought you the message of One who was cruci f ied. (p. 120) I f the whites are the law-givers, the blacks are the lawbreakers. They resolve "to deserve their (the whites') reprobation and get them to deliver the judgment; that w i l l condemn us." (p. 30) Each of them i s a transgressor of the social or ethical code of the whites. Vi l lage i s a murderer and the others abet his crime. Virtue i s a prostitute, one 120 who violates the principles of domestic l i f e . Fe l i c i t y i s a personif ic-ation of ev i l and invokes; every sin abhorred by the whites. A l l of them typify lawlessness and lack of inhib i t ion, just as the whites (and this includes the audience) typify a law-oriented society. The blacks possess two tra i t s which are the hallmarks of anarchy: the total and absolute attitude of revolt, and subversion. The colour the blacks g lor i fy determines the polarity of the play. It i s a tota l and uncompromising blackness which would absolutely and irrevocably reject a l l whiteness. "I order you to be black to your very veins," says Archibald to the others. "Pump black blood through them. Let Afr ica c irculate i n them." ( p. 52 ) To assert their aggressive blackness and to show their hatred of whiteness they would 'eat ' the whites. Even in this open revolt, the females work for subversive destruction. In general, the males, l ike Diouf, are inclined towards order and reason while the females, l ike Snow and Bobo, are averse to reason and represent anarchy. Virtue in her profession so l i c i t s white customers and holds the destructive power of seduction over them. Fe l i c i t y demonstrates the victory >/&£•• the anarchic female,principle over the male. She nominates Diouf to play the role of the white victim and presides over the r i t ua l slaying. She lends her skirt to Diouf to complete his impersonation and plays the role of the white woman's mother. It must be remembered that Diouf incarnates black fatherhood. For compromising with the whites, Diouf, the black father, i s made the s a c r i f i c i a l victim by F e l i c i t y , the black mother, who helps her ' son ' , Vi l lage, to k i l l him. 121 Thematically, The Blacks reiterates the statement made by The Balcony, that anarchy, though good, in pr incip le, i s self-defeating in practice. The pul l of order i s so strong in the polarity that i t is always the winning pr inciple. As the blacks do away with the whites and promulgate the beginning of their ru le, they assume, more and more, the sophistication they had condemned in the whites. The absolute freedom they had wished for i s inconceivable and they have to structure their society l ike the whites, class distinctions and a l l . Thus the ruling blacks think of their own slaves and underlings, now to be f i l l e d from the ranks of the whites. However, Genet's "geometry of revo l t , " to quote Brustein, i s 2 circular. Each order i s to have i t s supremacy for a set number of years after which i t s opposite would replace i t . The Queen, as she i s taken to har death, predicts the resurgence of the whites In ten thousand years. In Genet's vis ion of history, things come f u l l c i r c l e , the underdog be-coming the privileged and vice versa, but order has to be replaced by order and anarchy can never be real ized. This i s so because f i n i t e human intell igence cannot understand anarchy in Its purest form, which i s an i n f in i te concept. The performance of The Blacks stresses the indestruct ib i l i ty of established order. About the most spectacular way this i s done i s in the 'b irth ' of the f ive dol ls on stage. The white race i s to be symbolically k i l l ed in the person of Diouf, but before the slaughter he ensures the permanence of the structured white c i v i l i z a t i on by delivering f ive dol ls which are images of the court. The dolls are hung up on the stage d irect ly below the court where they remain t i l l 122 the end of the performance. This indicates to us that even i f the individuals in the Establishment die, the ideas or images imposed by them are indel ib le. The d ia lect ic between order and anarchy is incorporated variously in the staging. The intensive use of ceremony and r i t ua l i s one method. Both are formal celebrations which require disc ip l ine and order in performance. This inherent paradox in the Blacks' revolt was underlined very subtly in Roger B l in ' s production. As Vil lage and Virtue concluded' their f ina l dialogue, strains of a wild Africa!, rhythm were heard. A l l the actors re-entered the stage and started a t r i ba l dance while Newport News ( V i l l e de St. Nazaire in the French version ) disappeared into the wings. Quite suddenly, the f i r s t measures of the Mozart minuet were heard Instead of the African music and Newport News re-entered with the catafalque covered with flowers which he placed at the centre of the stage, where i t should be found at the beginning of the play. The 3 music continued and the actors began to dance the minuet. The transit ion from the t r iba l music to the structured notes of the minuet s igni f ies, f i r s t l y , the tempering of complete freedom or anarchy by order and,secondly,the influence of the white c i v i l i z a t i on in the black Establishment. Genet stated later that he preferred B l in ' s ending of the play to his own. The use of masks by the actors establishes yet another curious l ink with the d ia lect ic . In general, actors have a temptation, while doing a ro le, to 'play themselves out*. This weakness i s termed ego-gratif ic-ation and an effective curb on i t i s the mask. The Brechtian theatre exploits the mask's capacity to impose a restr ic t ion on the actor and remind him of theatrical d isc ip l ine. In The Blacks, the supposed whites who wear masks are rea l ly blacks. While admittedly their behaviour shows more constraint and punctiliousness than that of the other unmasked blacks, i t i s interesting to speculate how far the masks prevent feelings of personal prejudice. The atmosphere i s so charged with the turbulent emotions that characterize the relations between the blacks and whites outside the theatre that even the mask i s not proof against them. Roger B l in notes that his cast could not submerge their identity as blacks even off-stage. Nevertheless, the oppositional characteristics of anarchy and order are visualised in the juxtaposition of faces with masks. The language, too, ref lects the dichotomy between anarchy and order. While the blacks on the lower level of the stage speak a free and easy language, which i s also l y r i c a l , the Establishment flgutes use an a r t i f i c i a l d ict ion. They mouth a lot of platitudes which, however, ref lect: their consciousness of law and order. "Show these barbarians that we are great because of our respect for d i sc ip l ine" says the Queen (p. 116), and this i s exactly what they try to do. Each reveals his concern with technical i t ies. The Judge describes the legal proceedings by which the blacks w i l l be tried and punished, "according to our statutes - natural-l y " (p. 98). The Governor proposes the mothod of execution and the Mission-ary advocate, s that he christen the man before the execution and then give absolution for his crimes. Later, after the execution, they would a l l pray. The nicety of these proceedings i s matched by the nicety of the terms they use. The attention to propriety is str ik ing. The language used by the blacks deliberately ignores propriety but, being the poetry of hatred, i t i s more imaginative. While the whites are identified with the cult of beauty and art, i t seems to be more a concession to tradit ion which ascribes works of art to them than a fa i th in their creat iv ity. In the matter of language, i t i s the blacks who show the inspiration of poets. The only lines of formal verse spoken in the play, incidental ly, are those of Snow and Virtue, before the r i t ua l slaying: Expire, expire gently Our lady of the Pelicans Pretty sea gu l l , po l i te ly Gallantly, let yourself be tortured... (p. 80) The imagery of the language used by the blacks has a splendid range and i s extremely colourful. By contrast, the white court, which speaks a very colourless prose, shows also i t s earth-bound aspirations: " . . . T e l l us how rubber stands on the Stock Exchange." (p. 19) As in the styles, the mode of delivery of the speeches i s also dist inct in the two groups. The whites speak to each other, but often harangue the blacks. The blacks, on the other hand, employ incantation, which communicates a mood to the play. Its value consists, not in the meaning of the words, but the sheer physical impact. Virtue's Litany evokes of the L iv id , for instance, Amyriad free associations of an untamed, p r i -mitive culture. The words used by the blacks "sway,and pulsate l ike African dancers, and their very sound i s hypnotic, hallucinatory and c rue l . " * Genet thus differentiates between the highly organized world of the whites and the re lat ive ly free world of the blacks by varied styles and manner of language. 125 As an anarchist in pr incip le, at any rate, i f not i n practice, Genet i s against any organization that ca l l s for commitment. He dis l ikes categories and groupings which give any revolution the aura of organization. And yet the anomaly of his situation in The Blacks i s that he gives his support to the blacks when the very va l id i ty of his d ia lect ic i s based on the blatant categorizing of people as black and white. It is in the last play, The Screens, that the f u l l implications of social order are examined on the one hand and the meaning and problems of anarchy given f u l l consideration on the other. The plot i s set against the French-Algerian conf l ict which, by i t s l ink with colonialism, automatically suggests the existence of a structured, class-conscious society. But the spine of the action i s not the p o l i t i c a l insurrection of the Arabs against the French Order but the private revolt of Said against any order - which amounts to pure anarchism. The position Said adopts i s that of the anarchist par excellence. He belongs to neither the Arab nor the French faction and his rebel l ion strikes at any law, social, or moral, imposed by an external agent." To that end, he deliberately exiles himself from society by thieving, l iv ing in f i l t h and f ina l l y betraying his countrymen. In the meanwhile, Kadidja, who had condemned Said's mother for being related to a th ief, i s shot by one of the French colonists, Sir Harold's son. Before dying she organizes acts of terrorism among the Arabs. But how that crime i s organized and taken over by the entire Arab community, Said and Le i la withdraw from i t . In the po l i t i c a l sphere, the Arabs successfully fight the French, 126 both In direct confrontation and by means of subversion. Feigning loyal -ty, the Arab workers set f i r e to the orange groves of the French. Others weaken the colonists by acts of arson and the old regime f a l l s . With i t goes the class distnction between the colonists and the colonials and a new order i s established. However, i t i s an order and inherits many characteristics of the old order. The leaders enforce law and disc ip l ine and castigate the lawless elements in their midst,who are devotees of Said. The action now alternates between the votaries of order and anarchy in the ranks of the Arabs and the new society in the Kingdom of the ~ Dead. Here, Arabs and French,who were enemies in the old social structure, meet in harmony. Both the l iv ing and the dead Arabs claim Said, but the very idea of belonging to any one order upsets him. He rejects both and enters Nothingness after death, which symbolizes pure anarchy. In the main action of the play, anarchy manifests i t s e l f as Said's individualism while order appears in the form of the mass movement*, Arab and French. Likewise, i n the subplot, the individualism of Warda, the whore, i s set against the principle of social uniformity. Her uniqueness as a whore i s lost when she i s made a nurse of the Red Cross and, in order to gain her old glory, she dies. Corresponding to the conf l ict between anarchy and order in the act-ion, the characters f a l l broadly into two groups, the anarchists who reverse society's conventional values sand the orthodox figures. Said, Le i l a , the Mother and other rebellious characters l ike Kadidja and Ommu belong to the former category while the colonists, the French soldiers and those of the Arabs who emulate them f a l l in the latter. Within this broad d iv i s ion, there are very many distinctions which ensure the individual ity of the characters themselves and the highlight the dia lec-t i c between anarchy and order in the characterization. Said i s so indomitably indiv idual i s t ic that he categorically rejects a l l ideals, previously known. His poverty Implies a rejection of the -bourgeois ideal of economic prosperity; his marriage to Le i la and his cruelty to her are a rejection of the conventional notion of beauty and the ideal of marital b l i s s . Relentlessly, he destroys the ideal of social cohesion and sol idar ity which attracts the French and the Arabs a l ike. Conventional morality is s imilarly disposed of, and Said rejects also the ideal of patriotism by betraying the Arabs. He finds his true essence when he has detached himself from every social bond. Le i l a , who begins by wanting Said's appreciation, ends her career of abjection with a true l ik ing for what she does. By the time she has become a confirmed thief, she i s proud of her ant i -socia l ac t i v i t ie s . She boasts that she has taught even the family chickens to steal . Said, at least, i s conscious of the p o l i t i c a l exigencies around him and that he can be used by one of two factions, but Le i l a ' s revolt against social conventions i s carried out in tota l absorption, with a complete unconcern for p o l i t i c a l rea l i t i e s . She i s so much an essence of herself that she becomes the envy of even Said. The Mother, of course, i s their preceptor in anarchy. Rejected by the l iv ing and the dead, she develops a disregard for the social i n s t i -tutions which organize them. When Kadidja, who has ostracised her before, 128 invites her to jo in the incendiaries later, she asserts her independence by refusing to jo in them: "I give advice. I don't take i t . I sow my seed as I l i k e . " (p. 104) Said acknowledges that the Mother was Le i l a ' s inspiration: "You brought to perfection." (p. 199) Thus the three outlaws, cal led the family of nettles, are different from the other Arab rebels in that they do not commit their ant i -socia l act iv i t ies for any cause. The Mother unwittingly becomes a fighter for the Arab Cause when she k i l l s a French soldier. She i s so revolted by even the unconscious compromise with virtue that she warns Said, at a crucial moment, of doing anything similar and being claimed by any social cl ique. Nevertheless, the Mother's anarchism springs, to a large extent, from society's hos t i l i t y towards her family, and therefore i s a reactionary force. Le i la and Said are the true rebels,/fori their ant i -social acts have no personal cause. They cult ivate anarchy for anarchy's sake. Kadidja and the other rebels are committed to their cause, and their revolt i s not wholly negative. They are, s t r i c t l y speaking, p o l i t i c a l terrorists and not anarchists. Their aim i s to disrupt the colonial order, and to achieve this, they organize a movement of crime. Opposed to the anarchists, we have the supporters of order. The a. colonists are emblems of perfect organization. The planters, l ike Sir Harold, even know the exact number of trees and plants on their lands and the number and names of the labourers. Genet r id icules their fanatical preoccupation with precision and organization in Mr. Blanken-see's ident i f icat ion of his roses: ...I 've attached to each rose bush a be l l with a different note. At night, I can recognize them by their odour and voice. (p. 69) The Legionnaires s imilarly incarnate organization and d isc ip l ine. The Lieutenant commands his men to look their best in spotless uniforms. They practise the cult of Beauty, which Genet equates with order. They guard the neat organization of society into i t s several departments, which are headed by the Missionary, the Judge, the General, and the Academician. Together, the colonists (soldiers and planters) typify economic prosperity, law and order, and beauty of form. By the law of opposites, since the French incarnate the pr inciple of beauty and organization, the Arabs should make ugliness their emblem. But, while some avow a dedication to ugliness and outlawry, a small group has doubts about the efficacy of these principles and takes to organization. The soldiers in this group sing an anthem, march In step, and adopt the rational approach to problems. Ommu accuses the Combatant of adopting the French ways: "We have nothing to do with you. You reason." The Combatant counters i t with, "If you want to organize, you've got to reason. What are we combatants entit led to?" (pp. 194-195) The characterization not only outlines ideological differences between the anarchists and the organizers, but also draws our attention to the polarity between them by means of a simple strategy. The rebels are a l l referred to by their names - even the women and the l i t t l e known labourers. But the characters in the other camp, barring a few l ike Sir Harold or Mr. Blankensee, are a l l anonymous. They have only archetypal names l ike the Academician, the Vamp, and the Combatant, 130 signifying their loss of individual ity. The Screens condemns the idea of conformity which i s part of organiz-ation. It finds extreme individualism synonymous with pure anarchy. Genet also shows that i t i s very d i f f i c u l t not to conform to any form of organization. According to Luclen Goldman, the play's three social orders correspond to "three basic concepts of European socia l i s t thought: the class society based on oppression; the society born of the successful revolt which does away with oppression but i s s t i l l rooted in constraint; and the vis ion of the classless society with no constraints." 5 Even the dead are not free from constraints in the playoand they make and accept concessions. They elect their own e l i t e , and they adore Said and honour his mother. The classless society thus remains only a vis ion. It i s only the supreme anarchist, who refuses to conform to any order and who i s tota l ly free from social consciousness, that i s free from constraints in l i f e and in death. Said and Le i la are the only two who achieve this by their revolt against social law. The theme also relates to Genet's concept of beauty,which has profoundly disturbing implications. He attributes the beauty of e f f i -ciency, of just ice and of law, to the colonists. It i s they who have improved the land and ensured i t s prosperity. The rose in Mr. Blankensee's garden i s a symbol of beauty that i s Inherent in the colonists ' culture. Whether i t i s this tangible beauty or the abstract beauty of just ice and order, i t i s the colonists who develop i t . The tradit ional colonists ' claim to ownership of land rests on the argument that i t i s they who have brought real value to the native's land by improving i t . 131 In The Screens, the Cadi undermines their claim precisely because they made the land beautiful: "Things cease to belong to those who have been able to make them more beaut i fu l . " (p. 141) This i s a direct contradic-t ion of the view expressed by Brecht in The Caucasian Chalk C i rc le , that things belong to those who work to improve them. Genet makes a snide reference to Brecht in his mention of The Caucasian Chalk  C i rc le as a "German operetta" (p. 74) The Cadi*8 remark i s a cunning argument against the denizens of order and ref lects Genet's anarchist leanings in the matter of po l i t i c s . At the same time, i t s va l id i ty in the context of Art brings Genet to an impasse. The ar t i s t who creates beauty places his work of art beyond individual claims of ownership and beyond restr ict ions of time, so that he himself cannot possess i t . The Cadi's argument i s therefore essential-ly correct, but Genet, the a r t i s t , has identified the concept of beauty already with the enemy camp representing order. By sympathising with the anarchists po l i t ica l ly ,whi le at the same time associating beauty with order, Genet seems to be arguing against himself; against his artist's concern with beauty. The attempt to reconcile his aestheticism with p o l i t i c a l principles i s a fa i lure. In performance, the polarity between anarchy and order i s emphasized repeatedly. There i s a marked dist inct ion in the costumes of the Arabs and the French. The Legionnaires are meticulously dressed in uniform, complete with brass buttons, buckles, crossbelts, holsters and shining shoes. The planters, too, give an appearance of sol id dignity. Sir Harold i s a splendid figure - "boots, cork helmet, gloves, switch, r iding breech-es." (p. 29) In direct contrast we have the Arabs,who are dressed in rags 132 and In bright, clashing colours. The Mother's costume in the opening scene, for example, is a revolt against conventional notions of taste and beauty: . . .v io let satin dress, patched a l l over in different shades of v io let . Big yellow v e i l . She i s barefooted. Each of her toes i s painted a different - and violent - colour. (p. 11) The colonists are made bombastic figures. The padding used by Blankensee to create his bulk, Sir Harold's glove and his meddling with his whip and glove whenever he i s on stage emphasize the ludicrous aspects of the rul ing class. The make-up incorporates the cartoonist 's technique for the same effect. Sir Harold has "bushy red hair and eyebrows, big, br i s t l ing moustache, red chin, huge freckles, etc . " (p. 30) Genet ins ists on very bright l ights on the stage. In the Stockholm of production^The Screens, Sigvard Olsson's decor was a conglomeration of colours which seemed to be a visual aggression on the spectators: Depaysement, violence. Decorateur et metteur en scene ont agresse visuellement le public par des taches de couleur, des eclairages durs. ^ It was the ideal setting for anarchy. The scene at the orangery affords great scope for : directors to show their or ig ina l i ty in producing an atmosphere of revolt and intrigue. The f i r e i t s e l f i s s ty l ized, the flames being drawn by the Arabs with bright orange chalk. The actions of the colonists and the Arabs create a lot of suspense. Sir Harold and Blankensee are busy, talking about the poss ib i l i ty of a native revolution, when the Arabs creep in one by one and draw the flames. The irony i s conveyed by another l i t t l e gesture in the same scene. Blankensee casually remarks, "You're armed, of 133 course," (p. 71) to which Sir Harold responds by slapping his holster confidently. The stage directions indicate that as they are talking, darkness comes on gradually. This, of course, i s represented by the dark panel of the movable screen. The audience would remember how, minutes before, the Arabs working on the plantation worked and moved in a l ine with their hoes, showing a stereotypical behaviour when supervised by Authority. The same workers now come in singly. Each crawls surreptitious-ly to a screen and in turn makes bigger and bigger flames, blowing on them. Comparing various productions of The Screens. Odette Asian notes that in Roger B l in ' s production, despite the sty l izat ion, there was a very real impression of arson - one saw the orange colour of the flames and heard their crackl ing. 7 Lietzau's production in Germany capitalized on the distnction g between the colons and the Arabs. Prior to the f i r e , the aggressive attitude of the established order was suggested. Whenever Sir Harold spoke to an Arab, he would make him raise his chin and attend to him, and, when he was finished, would push the man's head down brutal ly. During the f i r e , the stupidity of the colonists was contrasted with the cunning and diligence of the anarchic elements. The two colonists walked in step with an a r t i f i c i a l gait and together would execute an uneven and clumsy l i t t l e jump every now and then, while the Arabs entered noiselessly with smooth movements. In the brothel scenes, Warda i s a str iking figure, her costume and make up ref lect ing her aggressive individualism. She claims her style 134 as her true Identity and, certainly, i t is a far cry from the tradit ion-a l appearance of the prostitute. The popular picture of a prostitute i s that of a woman who wears clothes that set her figure off to advantage and who tr ies to make herself beautiful. Warda rebels against this idea of the whore. She has big, gold-plated buck teeth which she picks conspicuously with a long, g i l t hatpin, ; she wears a heavy gold-lame dress weighted with lead at the helm; she wears her hair in a r idiculous-ly hich chignon and, to crown everything, she wears a very long, very thin false nose. The pictures of MadeleineRenaud in the role of Warda in the Paris production of The Screens show her as cadaverous. In short, Warda, with her ' s t y l e ' , rebels against the law of the brothel,that a whore should beautify herself. She makes a ceremony of her dressing up -watched by three curious Arabs - to look ugly. The language of The Screens serves to polarize the forces of anarchy and order. The colonists, being aesthetes, are conscious of the beauty of words and proper syntax in language. Genet refers to their love of order and symmetry of form by making the rose their symbol: MR. BLANKENSEE: We're the lords of language. To tamper with roses i s to tamper with language. SIR HAROLD : And to tamper with language i s sacrilegious. (P. 74) The language of the Arabs is meant to shock the proprieties of the colonists. It abounds in coarse and vulgar terms and images of excretion. In a review of Roger B l in ' s production of The Screens at Essen in January, 1968, Botho Strauss refers to the language of the play, which 9 makes the Algerian revolt omnipresent in the third world. The scatologic-a l language, according to him, i s not the product of a sick mind but the 135 weapon of the "sale troisieme monde" with which i t transmits i t s message of violence to the "monde propre", preoccupied with i t s ideals of beauty and i t s narcissism. Genet points to the absurdity of the Colonial ist fashion of bringing even the language to order. Mr. Blankensee's description of the rose i s an exaggeration of his concern for the beauty of form: Mr. B1ANKENSEE (as i f he i s recit ing Mallarme): The stem, straight and s t i f f . The green foliage, sound and glazed, and on the stem and in the fol iage, the thorns. (p. 74) The language of the Arabs i s structural ly chaotic, unlike the precise speeches of the colons. Onanu gibbers away in a delirium about forests, ponds without water, and the sun's "golden r a i n . " (p. 191) It i s interesting to note that,as Said and Lei la intensify their revolt against social and moral law, their language incorporates more obscure images and sounds more incoherent. Said, boasting of his wife's s k i l l in stealing, uses the tone she had used in boasting of his escapades, i . e . , he speaks in a gutteral tone and talks " l i ke a pitchman trying to gather a crowd at a f a i r " : And my wife, who hasn't seen her running away? Go see her, go see her! - running from under the stones, and when they f l ing bags of guess what, and from under the pommeling... (pp. 86-87) F ina l ly , the d ia lect ic between order and anarchy i s argued out by spokesmen for both sides. The colons use the Brechtian argument on ownership of things to strengthen the case for the Colonial Order: MR. BLANKENSEE: In a German operetta, I forget which, a character says, 'Things belong to those who've known how to improve them... ' Who i s i t who's improved your orange groves and my forests and roses? My rose bushes and my blood... (p. 74) 136 The Issue Is taken up much later, when the Cadi refutes the Colon's argument with the controversial statement that sums up the anarchist's position, namely, that things do not belong to those who beautified them, precisely because they made them beautiful: Better and more beautiful, l ight-footed, winged, they gracefully abandon the one who made them better. (p. 141) The conf l ict between anarchy and order occupies Genet's mind in a l l the three plays. While The Balcony deplores the impracticality of the ultimate rebel l ion, The Screens concentrates on the differences between organization and anarchy. It i s possible that Genet's views on individual-ism were influenced by his conversations with Sartre, but that i s beside the point. That he outlines a case for negative anarchy i s again evident. The remarkable thing i s that he has u t i l i zed the polarity between anarchy and order in a dramatic-theatrical milieu to reinforce the opposition of the Stage to L i fe : Ma piece n'est pas l 'apologie de la trahison. E l l e se passe dans un domaine ou la morale est remplacee par l 'esthetique de la scene. *0 137 NOTES  CHAPTER IV 1. Richard Coe, ' Po l i t i c s without Plat itudes ' , in The Vision of Jean  Genet ( London: Peter Owen Ltd, 1968 ) p. 307. 2. Robert Brustein, The Theatre of Revolt ( Boston: L i t t l e , Brown & Co. 1964 ) p.409. 3. I am indebted for this information to L.T. Cetta, Profane Play, Ritual  and Jean Genet ( University of Alabama Press, 1974 ) p. 101. 4. Richard Coe, ' Po l i t i c s withoutP lat i tudes ' , The Vision of Jean  Genet, p. 284. 5. Lucien Goldman,'The Theatre of Genet: A Scatological Study' i n The  Theatre of Jean Genet, ed. Richard Coe ( New York, Grove Press 1970 ) p. 236. 6. Odette Asian, i n Les Voles de la Creation Theatrale, ed. Denis Bablet and Jean Jaquot ( Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientif ique, 1972 ) p. 56. 7. Odette Asian, Ib id., p. 76 8. Odette Asian, Ibid., p. 8 i 9. Botho Strauss in Theater. Haute, January 1968. 10. Jean Genet, Lettres a Roger B l l n ( Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1966 ) p. 22. 138 CONCLUSION The dia lect ics outlined in the preceding chapters pertain to the basis of human existence. While a l l of us are aware of the oppositional characteristics of l i f e and death, i l l u s ion and rea l i ty , love and hate and anarchy and order in separate contexts, i t is the a r t i s t ' s vis ion which seeks an inner unity within the oppositions. It has been pointed out in the introduction that these polar i t ies are closely interrelated. In each case, the discussion, at some point, returns to the basic conf l ict between rea l i ty and i l l u s ion . For the sake of logical c l a r i t y , both the identit ies and relations of the opposites have to be defined on the basis of what i s apparent and what i s rea l . The dist inct ion i s further refined in terms of relat ive and absolute rea l i ty . In giving dramatic and theatrical expression to the relationship of these oppo-s i tes, Genet exploits fu l l y the shift ing levels of rea l i ty and i l l u s i on . A l l the other polar i t ies considered in this thesis are thus fragment-ations of this central opposition between the real and the i l lusory. Despite this unifying factor in the scheme of opposites, establish-ing the d ia lect ics i s not easy. The ar t i s t has a dual perception of things, as a social being and as an individual, and i t i s not always possible to reconcile the two. In the case of Genet, the tension between his individual aestheticlsm and his social experience finds outlet i n arguments of involved logic. Much as he would l ike to reject society altogether, he i s a unit of society due to a fact over which he has no control - namely, his status as a human being. So, while his particular 139 brand of aestheticism opts for death, i l l u s i on , and anarchy as superior pr inciples, he i s forced to reckon with l i f e , reality,, and order as facts of existence. The attempt to resolve this conf l ict results in the most extra-ordinary statements in Genet's plays: l iv ing i s dying; rea l i ty i s i l l u s i on ; hate i s love. Using a l l the resources of the theatre - the appeal of ceremony and r i t u a l , varied sound effects, l ighting, suggestive decor, costumes and the potent device of the mask - he delineates these themes in the plays ranging from The Balcony to The Screens. When he comes to the last set of opposites - anarchy and order - he i s faced with a dilemma. While the d ia lect ic i s easi ly established in The Balcony and The Blacks , i t is not quite so easy in The Screens. This i s because the question of anarchy and order is a p o l i t i c a l -communal issue in the f i r s t two plays but becomes a po l i t i ca l -e th i ca l issue in The Screens. In other words, while communal or group interests shape the conf l ict i n the f i r s t two plays, individual decisions matter most in the third. Any such decision requires a committed attitude one way or the other and commitment i s what Genet abhors. The result i s a certain unevenness i n the structure of the play : on the one hand, a spurious logic just i fy ing p o l i t i c a l anarchy despite the fact that beauty, which i s the a r t i s t '8 objective, goes with order; . '.- o n the other, a con-centrated analysis of individual revolt i n the character of Said. The treatment of revolt in Genet's last plays reminds one of a system of concentric c i r c le s . Revolt i s at the heart of the action of a l l three plays,but while i t has the broader scope of social and rac ia l 140 confrontation in The Balcony and The Blacks , a significant part of i t narrows down into a personal introspection in The Screens. The conf l ict is between groups rather than individuals in the f i r s t two plays. It i s the Establishment vs. the rebels or the Blacks vs. the Whites. Even where individuals emerge prominently as the combatants -as Roger and the Chief of Police do in The Balcony - the opposition i s rea l ly between two antithetical viewpoints. It i s only in The Screens that we get the isolated, single rebel, in Said. Although there i s , nominally, a p o l i t i c a l revolution going on in the background, the real action of the play concerns Said's revolt against the world around him, or, rather, against the ethical code of that world. The Screen'8 structure is very disparate and unwieldy when compared to the re lat ive ly neat form of The Balcony or the very tight frame of The Blacks. Its theme, too, is denser, being a philosophical or meta-physical thing while the themes of the ear l ier plays have a social or emotional flavour. The conf l ic t i n each of the three plays i s a war of absolutes, for Genet, l ike Nietszche, detests the middle way in anything. The battle between the dominators and the dominated, depicted in the ear l ier plays, becomes, in The Screens, the conf l ict between the Self and the Other or, to be more precise, a fusion of the two elements and in fact the usurp-ation of the Self by the Other. Each of these opposites represents an extreme. The portrayal of absolutes requires an emotional intensity on the part of the actors,and yet Genet maintains that l i f e and stage are opposites and therefore the actor: must be alert to the nature of his presence on stage and keep the real world dist inct from the world of i l l u s ion . This i s not rea l ly surprising in Genet whose dramatic vis ion constantly synthesizes opposed principles. His injunction to the actors of B l in ' s troupe throws l ight on the subject of an actor's vo l a t i l i t y . This may not be an original thought with me, but U.c let me restate i t anyway, that the patron saint of actors is Tires las, because of his dual  nature. Legend has i t that he retained, the male -zzi:.-: sex for seven years, and for seven more the other. For seven years a man's clothing, for seven a woman's. In a certain way, at certain moments- or perhaps always - his femininity followed in close pursuit of his v i r i l i t y , the one or the other being constantly asserted, with the result that he never had any rest, I mean any specif ic place where he could rest. Like him, the actors are neither this nor that, and they must be aware that they are a presence „ constantly beset by femininity or i t s opposite, but ready to play to the point of abasement that which, be It v i r i l i t y or i t s opposite, i s in any case predetermined. Saint T i res las , the patron saint of actors. As for the divinatory powers of the saint, let every actor make an effort to see c lear ly within himself. We may be certain that Genet c lear ly has in mind the reputation of Tireslas as a seer. Like the prophet, the actor, too, has to have a special insight. He has to divine not only a l l the poss ib i l i t ies of the character he impersonates but also gauge the pulse of the audience. The task of the actor i s , to a large extent, anticipatory. Genet's remark 1. Jean Genet: Letters to Roger B l in . translated from the French by Richard Seaver ( New York: Grove Press, 1969 ) pp. 62-63. about the divinatory powers of Tireslas i s , therefore, no id le statement. Nor i s i t only the actors who have to 'see c lear ly within' them-selves, but the audience as wel l . Genet's s ly manipulation of the spectators e l i c i t s their conscious or unconscious participation in the r i tua l s performed; arouses powerful and negative emotions in them and f ina l l y confuses them as to which one of the two worlds - theirs or the actors' - i s more authentic. It would be naive to read Genet's belligerence towards the spectators as constructive didacticism. Never-theless, our unique experience in his theatre does lead to some soul searching. The most f i t t i n g reta l iat ion we can make for Genet's hos t i l i t y i s to construe his negativism as an ultimately positive force on this ground. 143 SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY A. Background Books : Artaud, Antonin. The Theatre and i t s Double, translated from the French by Mary Caroline Richards , Hew York: Grove Press, 1958.; Barry, Jackson G. Dramatic Structure: The Shaping of Experience, Berkeley: University of Cal i fornia Press, 1970. Beckerman, Bernard. The Dynamics of Drama: The Theory and Method  of Analysis, New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1970. Gassner, John. Directions in Modern Theatre and Drama,New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967. States, Bert 0. Irony and Drama, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1971. Smiley, S. Playwrlting: The Structure of Action,New Jersey: Prentice-Hal l , Inc., 1971. Van Laan, Thomas F. The Idiom of Drama,Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1970. B. Works by Genet : Novels Miracle of the Rose, translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman, New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1966. Querelle of Brest, translated from the French by Gregory Streatham, London: Granada Publishing Ltd, Panther Books, 1969. Plays V translated 1 hj Inc., 1954. The Maidsv by Bernard Frechtman, New York : Grove Press, Deathwatc IThe Balcony translated by Bernard Frechtman, New York : Grove Press , Inc., 1958, 1960. The Blacks translated by Bernard Frechtman, New York : Grove Press, Inc., 1960. 144 The Screens, translated by Bernard Frechtman, New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1962. Other Writings Lettres a Roger B l in . Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1966. Letters to Roger B l in : Reflections on the Theatre , translated by Richard Seaver, New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1969. C. Works About Genet and Book References : Brustein, Robert. The Theatre of Revolt. Boston: L i t t l e , Brown and Co., 1964. Cetta, Lewis T. Profane Play, Ritual and Jean Genet. University of Alabama Press, 1974. Coe, Richard. The Vision of Jean Genet. London: Peter Owen, Ltd. , 1968. Choukri, M. Jean Genet in Tangier. New York: The Ecco Press, 1974. E8slin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd, New York: Anchor Books, 1969. Knapp, Bettina. Jean Genet, New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1968. Markus, Thomas B. 'The Psychological Universe of Jean Genet', The  Drama Survey 3 (1964) pp. 386-392. McMahon, Joseph H. The Imagination of Jean Genet, Yale University Press, Presses Universltaires de France, 1963. Nelson, Benjamin. 'The Balcony and Parisian Existential ism', Tulane  Drama Review 7(3) (1963) Sartre, Jean Paul. Saint Genet; Actor and Martyr, translated from the French by Bernard Frechtman, New York: G. Braz i l l e r , Inc., 1963. Svendson, J.M. 'Corydon Revisited: A Reminder on Genet', Tulane Drama  Review 7(3) (1963) Taubes, Susan. 'The White Mask F a l l s ' , Tulane Drama Review 7(3) (1963) Thody, Ph i l ip . Jean Genet: A Study of his Novels and Plays, London: Hamish Hamilton, Ltd. , 1968. Weightman, John.The Concept of the Avant-garde, I l l i no i s : Library Press, Inc., LaSalle, 1973. 145 Wellwarth, George. The Theatre of Protest and Paradox. New York University Press, 1971. D. Production Reviews and Interviews ; -THE BALCONY The Nation (London) July 6, 1957. Les Temps Modernes (Paris) June 1960, pp.1875-1884. The New Republic (New York) March 28, 1960, pp.21-22. The New Statesman (London) Apr i l 27, 1957, p.542. The Spectator (London) May 3, 1957, p.587. Time (New York) Apr i l 18, 1960, p.54. THE BLACKS Duvignaud, Jean. "Rencontre Avec Roger B l i n ' , Les Lettres Nouvelles , October 28, 1959. Simon, Alfred. 'Genet, le Negre et la Reprobation', Esprit (Paris), January-March 1960, pp. 170-172. Les Temps Modernes (Paris) June 1960, pp.1875-1884. The New Statesman (London) November 21, 1959, p.706. The New Yorker (New York) May 13, 1961, pp.93-94. The Spectator (London) June 9, 1961, p.835. The Times (London) May 31, 1961. THE SCREENS Bablet, Denis and Jaquot, Jean, ed. Les Voles de la Creation Theatrale, Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1972, P ; i f f . The Times (London) June 26, 1961. 


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