A note on J. L. Austin and the drama

Philosophy 74 (1):119-121 (1999)
Abstract
A play's text is nearly all talk, and in the performance of a play the physical activity is sparse and exceedingly limited. Used of a play, the term ‘action’ does not mean what it normally means. Its true meaning is illuminated by reference to J. L. Austin and his doctrine of speech-acts. Dramatic action is, for the most part, speech-action. And a skilful manipulation of speech-acts enables the gifted dramatist not only to tell a story but to communicate what is going on below the surface.
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