Jean Genet: Le Balcon [The Balcony]

(2915 words)
  • Clare Finburgh (University of Kent at Canterbury)

Spin, celebrity and spectacle. The construction, dissemination and perpetuation of image dominates, and to some extent determines, modern public life. For popstars and politicians alike, appearance counts more than policy or talent. Written in 1956, Jean Genet’s Le Balcon, a play which reveals the rites and rituals, the garments and accoutrements from which image is composed, is therefore of great relevance today.

“My beautiful gilded hat, you my beautiful vestments, my copes, my lace [. . .] Stuff functions”, exclaims the Bishop in the opening scene (1991, 5). The first three tableaux each present an archetypal figure of power – Bishop, Judge, General – conforming to his public image. For the Bishop, the p…

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Finburgh, Clare. "Le Balcon". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 November 2008
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]