Exploding the bordello in The Balcony
Spectacle, allegory and the wound of theatre
in The politics of Jean Genet’s late theatre
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In The Balcony, Jean Genet departs from the Aristotelian schema that he implicitly rails against in the 'Avertissement' by investing in allegory. In Society of the Spectacle, written roughly a decade after the first version of The Balcony, Guy Debord borrowed and updated Georg Lukács' theory of reification to show how life in mediatised. In opposition to the spectacle which sought to heal the wound by manufacturing images of national consensus and by encouraging a retreat into private space, The Balcony makes this 'lack' palpable in the public space of the auditorium. Recalling Henri Lefebvre's dictum that every society secretes its own space, it is possible to suggest that Genet's focus on theatre's heterotopic spatiality is an attempt to produce a new type of politically efficacious theatre. Lefebvre's dialectically complex reading of modernisation provides the specific context that is missing in sociologist Lucien Goldmann's interpretation of The Balcony.

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