The paper focuses on the powerful interrogation of the audience’s agency as staged in two very different works that, despite their distance in terms of genre and cultural milieu, both call into question essentially normative notions of gender and nation: Between the Acts (1941) by Virginia Woolf and England (2007) by Tim Crouch. In Woolf’s last novel, the process of writing and reading ambiguously frames the fragmentary staging of an eccentric village pageant on Englishness and its literary heritage. Indeed, the equivocal mise en scène of characters as readers/actors/spectators in the crucial ‘interval’ between the two world wars lends itself well to an inter-disciplinary investigation of the critical predicament underlying those slippery and delusive participatory claims. Crouch’s acclaimed piece England is instead strategically positioned at the intersection of multiple ‘ways of seeing’ and multiple ‘ways of doing things with words’ by conflating the ‘site specifics’ of visual arts with the ‘empty space’ of theatrical experience. As such it urges the audience to ‘see’ the dubious ties between local, ‘g/local’, and globalised spaces and thus to face the invisible national, sexual and socio-normative ‘scripts’ that condition their responses at large.
Audiences; In-betweenness; Between the Acts; Woolf, Virginia; England; Crouch, Tim