An Early Concept of the Theatre of Interplay: The Relevance of Branko Gavella’s Theory for the Development of Performance Philosophy




acting, autopoiesis, communication, Gavella, intention, internal spectator, interplay, intersubjectivity, performance, phenomenology, social atmosphere speech situation, speech, structure, system


The aim of this paper is to contribute to the shift in the perception of Branko Gavella’s theoretical work based on the phenomenology of intersubjectivity, and to point to the relevance of his theory of acting for the autochthonous development of the European branch of the modern philosophy of performance, as an interdisciplinary filed of research different form the methods traditionally employed by aestheticians of theatre. This paperbased on several decades of work on the systematization and comparative contextualization of Gavella’s theoretical ouvremakes an attempt at demonstrating the operability of Gavella’s concepts in the context of some recent interdisciplinary insights into the performance phenomenon. Gavella’s theory can clearly distinguish concepts that we bracket today under the rubric of meaning, as opposed to use, i.e. language-reference, as opposed to speaker’s reference. Already in the 1930s, he applied the relation of semantics to pragmatics, as it would eventually be understood in speech act theory from Austin on, to the problems peculiar to theatre. The core of this paper deals with Gavella’s “speech situations”, and the dynamism of exchange in the relational space of culture.

Author Biography

Sibila Petlevski, Academy of Dramatic Art, University of Zagreb

Sibila Petlevski – an author of more than twenty books in different genres – is a Full Professor at the Academy of Dramatic Art, University of Zagreb; doctor of humanities and scholar in the fields of performance studies, interdisciplinary art research and cultural studies. Apart from her academic and scientific career, Petlevski is a professional writer: an awarded novelist, poet, playwright, performer, editor and translator, member of L’Académie Mallarmé, ITI-UNESCO, Croatian Association of Theatre Critics and Theatrologists; two mandates on the International Board of the International P.E.N., currently the chair of Croatian National Council for Humanities. She is the author of awarded books on European drama and theatre (Symptoms of Modernity and Theatre of Interplay). Her play Ice General was awarded at Berliner Festspiele TT-Stückemarkt in 2005. She is the leader of the science & art project titled How Practice-led Research in Artistic Performance Can Contribute to Science supported by Croatian Science Foundation


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How to Cite

Petlevski, S. (2017). An Early Concept of the Theatre of Interplay: The Relevance of Branko Gavella’s Theory for the Development of Performance Philosophy. Performance Philosophy, 3(1), 216–232.