'Writing on the frontier' : European identification and the drama of Bernard-Marie KolteÌ€s
The overarching aim of this thesis is to give an account of the theatre of Bernard-Marie Koltes in
relation to contemporary France and Europe. It highlights the aspects of his work that convey a
sense of Europe's common cultural heritage, and considers its potential role in promoting
processes of identification across national frontiers.
The study is divided into two distinct sections. Part 1 focuses on textual analysis, and Part 2 on
Part 1 analyses the thematic structure of Koltes's drama, together with the myths and language
therein. A key argument is that, whilst Koltes's drama is firmly located within the national
context of France, traditional notions of `Frenchness' are challenged. The ideas the plays address
can be seen as also relevant to a wider European audience, and can help define a contemporary
view of `Europeanness'.
Part 2 examines how Koltes's themes and ideas have been conveyed on stage. It considers
productions of his drama in the differing contexts of France, Africa, Germany and Britain, in
relation to the themes and ideas outlined in Part 1. The analysis teases out those aspects of the
work that are perceived as `French' - such as the language and style of the drama - and those
which have apparently crossed cultural frontiers - such as its settings and themes.
The thesis concludes that Koltes's drama is both French and European. It suggests that his theatre
opens channels for European identification between France and other cultures - particularly those
that share western capitalist values and a history of colonial adventure. However, a further
conclusion is that Koltes's plays do not furnish audiences with a comfortable image of the
individual in contemporary Western European society.