In Search of the Dramatic Composition: A Contemporary Circus Performance as a Structure of Signs


  • Veronika Stefanova


In my search for a meaningful form of contemporary circus analysis, I am proposing a basic framework derived primarily from Czech theatre theory based on pre-semiotic and semiotic studies. I employ theories that make use of the theatre sign system and theories which perceive the theatrical—and, by extension, contemporary circus—production as a structure comprised of individual components. In order to test the validity of this theatre-based approach, I analyze a brief dramatic situation from La Putyka (2009), the first major performance by the Czech contemporary circus company Cirk La Putyka. I conclude that La Putyka may be meaningfully subject to a theatre-based semiotic analysis specifically because performers—by virtue of becoming characters and interacting with the audience—are transformed into dramatis personae. Finally, I propose that the theories discussed here are suitable for analyzing contemporary circus performances conceived and developed by a director, an approach likewise generally utilized in the world of theatre.

Author Biography

Veronika Stefanova

Veronika Štefanová holds a PhD from Charles University in Prague where she has explored contemporary circus as a dramatic art. She is in charge of the library, documentation and research section at CIRQUEON, the umbrella organization for the support and development of contemporary circus in the Czech Republic.






Reading Circus Bodies and Signs (Section Editor: Michael Eigtved, University of Copenhagen)