Audience Manipulation? Subverting the Fourth Wall in Pina Bausch’s Kontakthof (1978) and Nelken (1982)

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Abstract / Description of output

Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater breaks everyday behaviour into its most elemental fragments, and fundamental aspects of stage etiquette are constantly challenged, not least the barrier between performer and spectator known as the fourth wall. Accordingly, the hierarchy of the theatre space is thrown into question, and the audience’s preconceived notions of boundaries, appropriate behaviour and expectations are left open ended. In the following article, two case study examples of Bausch’s works—Kontakthof (Meeting Place, 1978) and Nelken (Carnations, 1982)— have been selected in order to demonstrate the range of techniques Bausch employs in manipulating the fourth wall. Both are lengthy in duration and extremely complex, layered works of dance theatre, illustrating Bausch’s varied methods of audience manipulation at what I have identified as a ‘golden period’ in her career. This article explores the process of audience manipulation through Bausch’s peripatetic use of the fourth wall, illustrating that, as dance theatre has evolved, the performance event has become increasingly confrontational and direct, engaging with the audience in a more provocative manner, and calling into question the limits of the theatre space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-36
JournalScottish Journal of Performance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2014


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