> grens

boundary > grens  [English/Dutch]

That which serves to indicate the bounds or limits of anything whether material or immaterial; also the limit itself – Oxford English Dictionary

What are boundaries and why do people always appear to have the need to set them? To define something always means exclusion on some level. “This is theatre,” for example, “and the rest is not.” “This is me” versus “that is you.” “This is the stage,” which implies, “those are the spectators.” Above all, and relevant at this moment: “This is theory” and “that is practice.” History, however, keeps showing the contrary. The definition Eric Bentley gave to theatre in 1965:


            A impersonates B while C looks on (150)

can no longer be applied when looking at performance art, for example. Spectators are not only passive onlookers but a substantial part of a performance: they finish it – even when that is not physically the case. And the boundary between theory and practice cannot be set that easily either: performance lectures, practice-based research and artistic research all seem to break with the ideas mentioned above.

Then why do we still do it: set boundaries and create fixed definitions? It certainly entails a form of clear organization and regulation, but is that necessary in life? Perhaps life may become prettier when we exceed these boundaries every now and then, like transgressive art does.  Or even better: if we let them fade so much that they eventually become no more than a dot on the horizon.



Bentley, Eric. The Life of Drama. New York: Applause Theatre Books, 1964.



Author and translator: Eva de Groot