Practice within a practice within a practice: digital inclusions in theatre performance and the shifting frame of mise en abyme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Downloads (Pure)


Novelist Andre Gide coined the literary concept of mise en abyme as a work within a work, a play within a play, a picture within a picture. This article examines and tests conventional accounts of mise en abyme in relation to the production of an Australian stage-play The Sand Dwellers: this piece is set in a fictional Australian commercial television current affairs production office and the production incorporates representations of journalism 'œproduct' that are digital creations. By analysing the appropriateness of notions of abyme to this multimedia production our understanding of the concept of mise en abyme is expanded. At the same time the concept illuminates several aspects of the play text and performance: key narrative devices in the play'™s story arc, the position of the writer-creator and, fourthly, the relationship between the play'™s character subjects (creative industries practitioners in the form of journalists and news crews) and the creative industries theatre and screen drama practitioners who portray them. In addition, the analysis of abyme characteristics as they are employed in this production extends our understanding of the role that can be played by digital creations integrated into contemporary theatre. In a broader creative industries context, another meaning applied to mise en abyme, 'into the abyss', highlights the propensity of digital technology to infinitely reproduce and eternally relocate work after the primary artist has ceased engaging with it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalFusion Journal
Issue number002
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Cite this