Theatrical Immanence: The Deus ex Machina after the Death of God

Freddie Rokem


The appearance of supernatural creatures on the theatrical stage, like the deus ex machina, directly intervening in the flow of the events has not ceased with the “Death of God”. It can be viewed from two perspectives, first as a meta-theatrical device through which the theatrical medium self-reflexively, sometimes even playfully, examines its own conditions and limits, as an integral aspect of the theatrical apparatus, or its dispositive; and secondly from a philosophical or theological perspective, raising the question why it has continued to serve as a powerful metaphor not only for an open-ended futurity through which Utopian notions are critically reflected and refigured, but also for ideological, social and personal conflicts, frequently even involving strong components of excess, violence and cruelty. The article discusses these theoretical issues and exemplifies with The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann.


performativity and theatricality; Immanence; Bertolt Brecht; Walter Benjamin; metaphysical materialism; Dispositive of the theatre; Threepenny Opera

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