Kerstin Beyerlein

Post-dramatic literary theatre? Valère Novarina’s texts and their performances in the light of approaches to performativity in theatrical and literary theory.

In my thesis I am using the work of French writer, stage director and painter Valère Novarina (*1947) as basis and example for a reflection on the possibilities of a productive relationship between contemporary theatre that is close to performance and literary praxis. By analyzing Novarina’s texts and performances I am interested in their resistance against the classical, quiet and mental way of reading, and the attempt to make them available to reception only when they are physically reproduced. My considerations are lead by the hypothesis that his texts contain a literary quality that only comes to life through the mediality of their performance.

Accordingly, my analysis focuses on the crossing point between theatric and literary theory. My argument is partly based on the cultural and theatrical understanding of the act of performance – as developed primarily in Germany and the United States of America since the nineties – and its theoretic application on experimental, postdramatic theatre practice. In this context I am concentrating on the relationship of this theatric performance discourse towards textuality and language. In doing so, I would like to highlight their tendency of referring to an abstract and logocentric understanding of language, texts and literature, shaped by a long dramatic tradition. However, this comprehension often only serves as an argumentative platform allowing theatric performance theory to define performative theatre aesthetics as separate and in contrast to textuality and language. Adopting another perspective, I am turning my attention to post-structuralist literary theory and the re-evaluation of language and the notion of literature and its performative potential. I am arguing that by describing literature as productivity (Kristeva) or as an erotic text-body (Barthes) their concepts are closer to contemporary theatre aesthetics. With my analysis of Novarina’s writings and performances I intend to elaborate on this point by showing examples of aesthetic overlaps of the literary and the theatric, resulting from this shift of emphasis. I would like to argue that the literary quality of Novarina's texts should not only be conceived metaphorically in terms of physicalness and productivity but beyond that. As he consequently places language at the service of theatrical praxis, performance becomes its concrete – rather than abstract – realization. Consequently, I would like to point out that we are faced with a kind of literature that unfolds through voice and – as an amalgam of sense and sensuality – is closely linked to the moment of its performance. Because it is literature that coincides with its own performance it becomes impossible to describe the relationship between language and performance in dichotomical terms.


Personal Details

Contact: kerstin.beyerlein[at]


Studies of History and Cultural Studies at University of Leipzig, Germany.


Student Research Assistant at special research centre 417, “Regional Processes for Integration. The Exempla of Saxony.” University of Leipzig.


Study visit "pensionnaire étrangère" at E.N.S. rue d’Ulm, Paris, France.


Bachelor of Arts at Institut d’Etudes Européennes at University of Paris 8-Saint Denis. Dissertation title: "Le problème de la diffusion des écritures dramatiques en France et en Allemagne".


Master of Arts (DEA) at Institut d’Etudes Théâtrales at University of Paris 10-Nanterre. Dissertation title:"La production du texte par la scène dans le théâtre de René Pollesch".


PhD Student at Institute of Theatre Studies at FU Berlin, Germany. PhD thesis title: "Post-dramatic literary theatre? Valère Novarina's texts and their performances in the light of approaches to performativity in theatrical and literary theory".

WS 2007 Visiting Teacher at Institute of Romance Studies at FU Berlin.


Freelance work as assistant director, dramatic advisor, interpreter/translator and artistic advisor for theatre productions and festivals in Germany and France (e.g. Le Phénix/Valenciennes, Kontra-Punkt/Düsseldorf, Cie Le Grain-Théâtre de la Voix/Bordeaux, Paris).


Recipient of Nafoeg Scholarship of the Senate of Berlin and member of the International Research Training Group "Interart Studies", Freie Universität Berlin.


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