In the Pursuit of Truth : María Irene Fornés’s Visual Non-Illusionism


HAVRAN Katarína

Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description “People believe that truth is the order in which they live. Others, the bright ones, believe that there is no truth at all but only an arrangement” says Dr. Kheal, one of María Irene Fornés’s most eccentric characters. Both views on truth, as Dr. Kheal further conjectures, are ultimately fallacious. Truth is a central preoccupation in Fornés’s work since her first play, Tango Palace, in which truth, symbolized by a key, is sinisterly concealed in the orderly disorder of the stage, impelling the protagonist to search for it obsessively. Likewise, Fornés’s later characters cling to the hope that the pursuit of truth is not an aimless endeavor. Fornés’s concept of truth emerges in the context of the early ‘60s off-off-Broadway movement. In a period wary of the misleading “truth” statements imposed upon society by the establishment, off-off-Broadway playwrights adopted a cautious approach toward language as they shifted attention from the text to the unexplored visual dimension of performance. Surpassing the illusionism of the realist stage, Fornés composes the mise-en-scene with meticulous care, where each stage picture is an exploration of the image of the body. Her later plays expand on Dr. Kheal’s proposition that truth is neither a manner of living nor an arrangement by suggesting that truth is to be found in the fundamental nature of the body. It is through the sensuous aspects of the physical body that Fornés touches upon the psyche of her characters and thus invites broader social and political considerations about her theater.
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