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r o w AR D A p o Er r cs o F p ER Fo R M AN ce
I 7l
decorated caveswere in constant use for more
than 10,000 years.What
kind of use? Human bands did nor number
more than 40 to 70 indi_
viduals, and more than one band used adjacent
and overlappi"g;"C*
For most of the year bands probably met
oniy occasionally, by chance,
or perhaps to exchange information
and goods. Maybe relations
berween some bands were hostile. But
indica"tl
rimes- whengamewasassembred
in one...;T;:::llj:'ff.r'i.1
fruits and nuts were ripe for gathering -
a concenftation of'bands took
place. This stili happens.among the few
hunting and gathering p;.pl*
left' in the Karahari with the lKung, at
the corrJborees of the Australian
Aborigines. The farming.and huniing
tribes of Highlands New Guinea
TO W A RDA P O E T IC S
OF stage elaborate "payback" or exchange
(see chapter 4). pirgrimages, famif
ceremonies on a regular basis
reunions marked by feasting
P E RF O RM A N C E and the exchange of gifts, porlarches,
and
,.going
ro,, rhe rhearer are
other variations on this same acdon
of concentratron, exchange
give-ar.r a1, and dispersal. or
V and F. Reynolds report a strikingly
H U N TINCCIRCUITS
CE, RE MONIA L
CENT E RS , the chimpanzees of the Bundongo
similar phenomenon among
AN DTH EAT E RS f"orest in UgurrOu.The Reynolds,
account makes me wa
.,ceremoniar
g"tr.",i,,g,;
The earliest human societies were hunting
and gathering bands. These T,l;:r::,1 ::ffir,".:i ;:J};, lT'::,,.:;
bands were nejther primitive nor poor; other species.
tn" U"rt evidence suggestsan
abundance of food, small families (iirth
control was practiced), and an
established range. Humans did not live Carner (r896: 59-6o) wrote that,
in one spot, neither did they accordingto nativehearsay,,,one
the most remarkablehabits of the of
wander aimlessly. Each band had its chimpanzeeis the kanjo as it is
own circuit: a more or less fixed
route, through time,/space. I say ,,time/space,, c a l l e di n t h e n a t i v et o n g u e .Th e
because the hunting w o r d ... i m p l i e s m o r e o f th e i d e a
"carnivar'"rt is berievedthat of
schedule was not gratuitous; it took more than one famirytakes part in
into account the movement of these
game according to its own feeding festivities.,'He went on to describe
and mating patterns. The cultural how the chimpanzeesfashion a
level - at least in terms of paintlrrgfarrd drum from damp clay and wait for
scutptiig _ was very high: the it to dry. Then ,,thechimpanzees
masterpieces of the cavesof south-west a s s e m b l eb y n i g h t i n g r e a tn u m b e r s
Europe and the mobire art of a n d th e n th e ca r n i va br e g i n s.o n e
Eurasia are testimony enough. Cave or two will beat violentlyon this
art fro- u".y far back exists in dry clay,while others jump up and
many parts of the world, though down in a wild grotesquemanner.
nothing comparable to Lascaux, Some of them utter long rolling
Altamira, and the others has b."r, s o u n d s a s i f t r y i n g t o s i ng ...
,rr.ori"red elsewhere. In brief a n d th e fe sti vi r r e sco n ti n u e i n th i s
humans occupied an ecological niche f a s h i o nf o r h o u r s . "A p a r t fr o m
that kept bands on the move in th e q u e sti o no f th e d r u m , th e a cco u n t
reguiar, repetitious patterns, following given abovedescribesquite well
game, adlusting to the seasons, what occurredin the BundongoFor_
creatrng artlritual. est in its extremeform, as we heard
it six times, once when we were
Repetitious beyond modern calculation: verycloseto the chimpanzees.Only
evidence shows that certain twice,however,did this happenat
night;the four other times it rasted
for a few hours during the daytime.
.l 7 3
To w AR D A p o ETr cs o F p ER Fo R M Ar .r ce
I 72 rownn o A p oETt c s oF PERFoRM ANc E

The ..carniva|s,'
consistedof pro|ongednoise for periodsof hours, that ritual comes first (historically, conceptually), with entertainment
whereas ordinary outbursts of calling and drumming lasted a few arising later as a derivation or even deterioration of ritual' Ritual is
minutesonly.Although it was not possibleto know the reasonfor this "serlous" while entertainment is "frivolous." These are prejudiced cul-

unusualbehavior,twice it seemedto be associatedwith the meetingat ture-bound conclusions. As I tried to show in chapter 4, entertainment
a co mmon foo ds our c eof bands t hat m ay hav eb e e n r e | a t i v e | y and ritual are braided together, neither one being the "original" ofthe
unfamiliarto eachother' other. At celebratory gatherings people are free to engage in behavior
(Reynoldsand Reynoldst 965:4o8-9) that would otherwise be forbidden. Even more, special non-ordinary,
otherwise forbidden (frequently promiscuous) behavior is not only
- they think it permitted, but encouraged, prepared for, and rehearsed. Behavior dur-
The Reynolds aren'r sure what the carnivals were for
food source to another: it occurs when ing carnival combines or alternates with prescribed spontanelty with
may signal a move from one
The nineteenth-century report indicating large-scalepublic performances.
certain edible fruits are ripe.
where two or more Sroups meet on a seasonal schedule, where
somekindofentertainment(singing,dancing'drummlng)apparently
chimpanzees. there is abundant food either available or stored, and where there is a
romanricized and anthropomorphized the gathering of
nineteenth-century report of a mood geographical marker - cave, hiil, waterhole, etc. - there is likelihood of
But the Reynolds confirmed the
a ceremonial center (see figure 5. 1) . Of the many differences between
ofexcitementandweli-beinSpermeatingthemeetingofanimalsfrom
different bands who are on friendly terms with each other'

groups con- C amp


Calls were coming from all directions at once and all
cern ed se em edt obem ov ingabout r apid|y ' Asw e o r i e n t e d t h e s o u r c e
and
of one outburst,anothercame from anotherdirection'Stamping
were heard sometimes behind, sometimes in front
fast-runningfeet
many as 13
a nd ho wling out bur s t sand pr olongedr olls of d r u m s ( a s
rapid beats)shaking the ground surprised us every few yards'
( ReYnolds an d R e Y n o l dts9 6 5 : 4 o 9 )

events?
Aren't these "carnivals" prototypes of celebratory, theatrical
1) a gathering of bands - not indi-
Their qualities are worth nothing:
with nor total strangers to each other;
viduals - who are neither living
dancing
2) the sharing of food or, at least, a food source; 3) singing'
entertainment; 4) use of a place
(rhythmic movement), d.rumming:
it the grounds for the gathering' (In
,h"i i, ,ro, "home" for any grorrp
even in our own culture parties held
regard to the last point I note that
"for the
in the home use rooms specially marked out or decorated
more or less offlimits') Figure 5.t
occasion." while other rooms are
The entertainment aspects of gatherings are of special importance'
Note
prlvu- A t pl aces w here seasonal hunt i ng pl ac es i nters ec t at a l andmark , c eremoni al
Western thinkers have too often split ritual from entertainment
wisdom to assert centersari se.
eging ritual over entertainment. It has been accepted
'5n..'
1 74 T OWA R D A P OETICS OF PERFORM ANCE To w AR D A p o ETr cs o F p ER Fo R M AN ce I 7 5

human and ape ceremonial centers none is more decisive than the when assuming an area that has left little visual
must be cautious
that only humans permanently transform the space by "writing" on evidence of high art is necessarily artistically impoverished.
or attaching a lore to it. The art in the cavesof south-west Europe The functions of the ceremonies - the performances - at the cere-
the stories of the Aborigines about the landmarks in their range' monial centers, and the exact procedures, cannot be known precisely.
meansof transforming natural spacesinto cultural places:waysof Heel-marks left in the clay in at least one of the cavesindicate dancing;
ing theaters. But every architectural construction or modification is t authorities generally agree that performances of some kind took place.2
making of a culturai place - what is special about a theater? i But more often than not the reconstructions suit the tastes of the 1
lrtheater is a place whose only or main use is-jg-stage-_"o.r reconstructor: fertility rites, initiations, shamanist-curing, and so on. l
per{sffiiiances.It is mffiflflTfftlis kind of spacb,a theater My own tastes run toward "ecological rituals" such as outlined by Roy r,
Y not aiFiVd late in human cultures (say with the Greeks of the A. Rappaport: performances which reguhle..economic, political, and ;
religious interaction among neighboring groups-frIiose relation with '
each other is ambivalently collaborative and hostile. In fact, Rappaport i
- part of a system of hunting, following food sources according toi (1968) discussesy5uias part of a total ecological system. My onm
*:-*
seasonal schedule, meeting other human bands, celebrating, and views ar'e close to Rappaport's:
ing the celebration by some kind of rn'riting on a space: an inte
of geography, calendar, social interaction, and the proclivity of ritual,particularlyin the contextofa ritualcycle,operatesas a regulat-
to transform nature into culture. The first theaters were not ing mechanismin a system,or set of interlockingsystems,in which
"natural spaces" - as ls the Bundongo Forest where the chim suchvariablesas the areaofavailableland,necessary lengthsoffallow
"cultural periods,size and composition of both human and pig populations,
stage their carnivals - but were also, and fundamentally,
piaces." The transformation of space into place means to consffuct'q trophic requirementsof pigs and people,energyexpendedin various
theater; this transformation is accomplished by "writing on the space, activities,and the frequencyof misfortunesare included.. . . Under-
as the cave art of the Paleolithic period demonstrates so well.t lying these hypothesesis the belief that much is to be gained by
writing need not be visual, it can be oral as with the Aborigines.The regarding-culture, in some of its aspects, as part of the means
Aborigines are a peoplewith few material possessions but possessinga by which ali1grls. of ihri human species maintain themselves in
culture rich in kinship systems,rites, myths, songs,and dances.With t h e i re n v i r o n m e n t s .
them the transformation of space into place cannot be seen so much as' ( Rappapor
t 968:
t 4- 5)
it can be heard. Or, similarly but in an environment as different as can
be imagined from the desert home of the Aborigines, the central" Rappaport is lwiting about a contemporary New Guinea people; I am
African Mbuti move confidently through their sacred tropical forest trying to reconstruct performances of Paleolithic fiu-ilIEii:i think both
singing and dancing their Molimo (see Turnbull 1962, 1985, 1988)' bear on patterns within modern and postmod6i-fficieties. Exrapolat-
What characterizes Mbuti Molimo ritual is the sound of the Molimo ing from Rappaport, from the pictorial and other evidence within the
wooden trumpet and the pattern of the dances associated with it' The caves, and from patterns within contemporary theater I say that the
Molimo. hidden "verticallv in a tree near the sacred center of the forest performances at the ceremonial centers occurring where hunting
moves toward the camp, relocating the sacred center as it breathes ain :l bands met functioned in at least the following ways:
drinks water, is rubbed with earth, and frnally manifestsitself over fire-, 1
i 1. To maintain friendly relations.
At this point the sanctity of the forest center envelops the camp'i tr)
(Turnbull 1985: 16). Rememberingthe Aboriginesand the Mbud we I -'
To exchangegoods,mates,trophies,techniques.
i
:
Tow A R D A poE Trc s oF pE R FoR MA nc e I 77
I 76 ro wnn o A p oETt c s oF PERFoRM ANc E

3. To show and exchange dances, songs, stories'


Spectators
rhythmsfamiliarto come and go
I think theseperform."."" Jild
Furrhermore,
usrn:

Gathering.
Playingout an action or actions.
Surrounding
Dispersing. crowd
'"
'l

ln other words, people came to a special place, did something.that can:


be calied theater (and/or dance and music because all ttiib genres arer,l
LOOt

.imy, pfiffir*ed together in such situations), and went on their way: '
Passersby look
simple and obvious as this constellation of rhythmically organized
overthe rim,
events may seem to be, they are not inevitable when two or more then moveon
groups approacheach other. The groups could avoid each other, meet"
i" .o*U"i, p3Lss,each .,h:l--bl as travelers on5gad'
{o ""d :.o ::'
The patte{+-of gatherinlg, iieliiorminf;and drspeffig is a specifically 5.2 An eruPtion
Figure
theatridipattern. Note
fffi'-f"itern occurs "naturally" in urban settings.An accidenthap- A n "erupti on"featuresa heatedc enterand a c ool ri m, w i th s pec tatorsc omi ng and
p.rrr, oii, causedto happen (asin guerrilla theater);a crowd gathersto goi ng. The erupti on occurs ei ther afi er an ac c i dent or duri ng an ev ent w hos e
se" *hat's going on. The crowd makesa circle around the eventor, as devel opmenti s predi ctabl es uc h as an argument,or the c ons truc ti onor demol i ti on

in the caseof accidents,around the aftermath of the event.Talk in the of a bui l di ng.

crowd is about what happened, to whom, why; this talk is largely


interrogative:Iike dramasand courtroom trials,which are formal ver-
accident itselfthat gathers and keeps an audience. They are held by the
siorr.oithe srreeraccjdent,tlre ev6ir-t itself is absorbedinto the_oggf
rdeonstructioh or reenactment of the event. In the case of an 1lg$ment
rconstructing In
whottookploce. trials'this is dg19 veiUatty,in th:1919-a-
or, ii ;hlch slowelffi, iHillonstructionof a building#ffied by
A;r$#t ioi'i ig"i" *hJ t"pp".red(iii"allv, f,ctionalf,frffiic-
sidewalksuperintendents,it is the uffi[ing of an eventwhich can be
iii], r.iigio"tfy)lT6e questions askedin the crowd are those which
measuredagainsta predlctablescripi"S6J6fi.iG.F) that gathersand
Brecht wanted theater audiencesto ask of theater.3The shapeof this
holds people. Totally unirianigeable occurrences-1 f.mng wall, sud]"."
kind of street event- a heated center with involved spectatorsfading
that- den gunfire - scatterspeople;only after the wall has fallen or when the
into a cool rim where people come, peer in, and move on - is like
to the basic perr',] shooting stopsdoesthe crowd C-+Sgrtb mlke t!-g theater. \
of some medieval street theater.a Accidgnts conform
"cleaned up" some writing, Eruptioils ar66ne kind of "natural"s theater,processionsareanother.
formance pattern; even after the event is
the i Unders6od as a coherent system they form a bi!-51E'rlnodel of the
marks the site: for example, bloodstains, knots of witnesses and
disperse' 1l performancesthat rook place in the ceremonialce*EJfiiiich aroseat
curious. Only slowly does the event evaporate and the crowd
points where Paleolithichunting bands,moving acrossthe terrain on
call.suchevent:"eruptions" (seefigure 5.2)' their seasonal
tin treks,met. In a procession(seefigure 5.3) - which is a
.r,rprioilfii"l?eatrical-performance becauseit is not the
. l78 row A R D A poE rrc s oF pE R FoR MA N c e I79
rowe no A po Er t c s oF PERFoRM ANc E

Pla n n e de ve n t a roughly similar thing happened countless times on the hunting cir-
a t th e e n d o f cuits of Paleolithic humans. Out of these hunting circuits developed
th e p r o ce ssio n ritual clrcuits, meeting places, ceremonial centers, and theaters.
Everywhere theater occurs at special times in special places. Theater
Path ofthe is but one of a complex of performance activities which also iileludes
P r o c e s iso n ritual$3p6it'aridTriilr (dueli, ritual combats, courtroom iiiJr), a"".e,
rnu*, ptay@?rious performances in everyday life (see chapter t).
Theater places are maps of the cultures where they exist. That is, theater
is analogical not only in the literary sense - the stories dramas tell, the
convention of explicating action by staging it - but also in tk*af.elu-
recronic sense. Thus, for example, the Athenian theater of the fifth
cenffiy BCE had as i!: ggnter the altar of Dionysus. When the chorus
Crowd watches
procession pass by;
danced around the altar if was located between the audience and the
l n f o r m al
audience some j oi n and go on men who played the dramatic roles. The Greek theater's semicircular
to the goal tiers of seats - not individuated as in modern the"t"rr-6'rit curving
communal benches as in modern sports stadiums - Iiterally..enfolded
Figure5.j A procession thq_d.Iama, containing its agons within the Athenian solidarity (see
Note
figure 5.4). Conceptually this pattern of solidarity-containing-agon
A p r o c e s s i o nh a s a fixe dr o u tea n d a kn o wn g o a l.At severalpoi nts al ongthe w ay,the.
was repeated in the contest among the poets and actors for the best play
procession stops and performancesare played.As sPectatorswatch the procession'
and best performance. The proscenium theater of theglghreenth to
p a s s b y ,s o m e m a y io in a n d g o o n to th e g o a l. \
twentieth centuries in the weit a definrte, Dur very drnerenr,
"ff6Tffi*,
socio"ifr6Ficdesign (figure 5.5).
- the event moves along a.,prescribed path, spec- The Greek amphitheater was open. Beyond and around it the city
kind of pilgrimage
could be seen during performances which took place in daylight. It
tatorsgatheralong the route,ind'ai appointedplibeSthe pfficessionh-als
played. r"t149t, funeral corteges, ItoliiffiI was the city, the polis, that was tightly boundaried geographically and
.rra p1lfor*..r.&-r."
PuppetTheaterareproE&3ions'u ideologically. On the other hand, the proscenium theater is a tightly
*"r.h.r, and the Prye-4.1nd
*U3uatly boundaried, closed individual building with ic&ss from the street
a proceision moves to'e g.oall-the-fdheralto the grave,the
stricSi"controlled. Within the part of the structure where the perform-
political *.r.h to the speakers'sta;A]he circus paradeto the big-top'
ance takes place and is viewed much effort is spent in directing atten-
the pilgrimage to the shrine' The event performed at the goai of the
tion only to the stage; everything not in the show is hidden or sunk in
pro."rJon ii the oqp-ositeof an eruption: it is well planned for'
darkness.The building, like rhe events within it, is compartmentalized;
rehearsed.ritualized.
the time for the audience to look at each other is regulated and is
However,eruptions and processionscan occur simultaneously,espe'
limited to before the show and to intermissions.
cially when largenumberstf people are involved and the leadershipof
The proscenium theater is divided into five precincts (see figure
a group is flexible. The meeting of bands of chimpanzeesin the Bun'
5.5). Theater w-o1\ers enter through a backstage door unseen by the
dJrgo Forestis both eluptive and processional:-ita known place in a
ticket-buying pii.onr. This is a version of the industrial practice of
krro*r, circuit, the abundince of food coupledwith the encounterwith
separl$ng the fii6iy
strangebandstriggers an eruption of the "carnival'" It is my belief where goods
"r"
produclJ from the store where
goES*"
to city

Thetheater
Adioins other theaters

I undermarquee
r) Sidewalk i

Figure5.4 TheAtheniantheater
Note
oPen eye of the $]Jg-of
Nested at the center of the Athenian theater was the 5) Backstage,offices,
D i o n v s u s . A ro u n d itd a n ce d th e Ch o r u s,g ivin g a coreofsol i dari tyfortheagoni sti cr'
qgtors But the agon ot
ffii?i of tn. actors.The audience nested both Chorus and,
the w hol e theatri cal
t h e c o n t e s t. mo n g p o "tsiid a cto r sfo r th e p r ize ssurrounded Figure
5.5 The proscenium
theater
the ultimate nest for the entire-
eveht.yet the soliJarityof Atheni, the polis, pT-*ia"a Note
Each agon was literally held in a nest ot
sequenceof performancesand contests' The moderntheaterbui l di ngi s not i n i ts el fa c entrals truc tureat the heartofa c l earl y
r c l i d a r i t y . T he o u te r n e st- th e p o lis- wd ( io tm Eta p h ori cal :-tffi dw ;E -fffni te boundari edpol i s.That structure- i fi t ex i s tsat al l - i s the s tadi um or S uperdome.
each person knew what it
geilra,phical, ideological,and social limits to Athens; and Theatersare bui l t i n "thea ter di s tri c ts ,"one nei ghborhoodi n a rather i l l -defi ned
ofthe social systemwhich
was to be a citizen.The shape ofthe theater was a version "urban area." The prosce-1iumtheatel i$"eJfis divided into five areas: r) sidewalk
to debate and interrogation' but closed
alternated agon and solidarity; it was open under marquee,z) l obby,3) hous e,4) s tage,and 5) bac k s tage.Fi x eds eati ngpoi nts
a b o u t w h o w a s o r wa s n o t a m e m b e r ,a citize n ' the audience toward the stage. The stage floor is open and often slightly raked,
ti l ti ngthe acti ontow ard the hous e.S tagemac hi neryi s hi ddeni n the w i ngs and fl i es ,
maki ng qui ck scene chang es pos s i bl e.The l obby ,w hi c h ex tends i nto the s treet r\
under the theater marquee, i s a gatheri ng pl ac e for the audi enc e before the i
performanceand duri ng i ntermi s s i ons .
.|8 3
I 82 ro wnn o A po ETt c s oF PERFoRM ANc E r o w AR D A Po Er l cs o F PER Fo R M AT'r ce

factory and developed to facilitate quick changes of scenery - visual surprises.


they are sold' In a way the proscenium theater combines
areas The spaces occu- Additional storage space was necessary as productions involving bulky
store in one bui-Iding but with clear)y defined
I area, lobby, and house - are gaudily scenery were kept for future productions; dressing-rooms became
pied by thd pubtic
-"rqrr." more ornate as costumes and makeup increased in complexity. The
de co rate dre flec t inganam bit iont oappeal. . ar is t o c r a t i c ', o r . . h i g h -
rclass." The spacesLccupied by the workers - stage and backstage - stage space of the proscenium theater is an efficient engine for quick
decorated' raw' scene changes and mounting sumptuous effects; this theater produces
resemble ind,ustrial workspaces, functional' sparsely
'and "numbers" and coupsde thidttelike a many-course meal at an expensive
full of necessarYequiPment'
some better restaurant. Usually every attempt is made to hide how effects are
i' The house is divided into different classes of seats'
units' (In older achieved. Dramas written for the proscenium usually include one or
than others, but even the cheap seats are individual
benches' only the two intermissions because it's necessary for patrons to see each
proscenium theaters the cheap seats were literaily
are placed so that other, evaluate the product they've purchased, drink, smoke, and
ii.h *.r. entitled to individual places.) The box sears
t Before the play
sitting there can be see4-by other spectators re-experience the thrill and surprise ofthe rising curtain.
P-*iSnc
seats. However, Theaters are located in a theater district; performances are offered at
Segins a curtaln conceals most of the stage iliing the
even when this temporary barrier is lifted' patrons
are no the edge of workdays, "after work" or on weekends and general holi-
-longer
nor do tney duyr, thduie, is a place to go **h"n work is finished, it is not meant to
allowed on stage as they were during the Restoration'
usuallySeetheactualwallsofthetheaterbuilding.Thesearemaskedby be a rival of work. Becauseit is a model of the mercantile process,and a
scenes' product itself of the working middle-class, the modern theater can't
flats or sets: faise architectural elements depicting various
house by the pro- impede that process. Nor is it proper for the theater to entice panons
The stage is architecturally separated from the
scenium arch, the proscenium theater's most unique
and dominating from their jobs (except on Wednesday afternoons, matin6es tradition-
its center portion ally reserved for blue-haired non-working ladies). Movlg1and baseball
feature. The arch is actually a framed wall with
and looking into are different: they are offered as alternatives to work, though night bali
removed so that literally the audience is in one room
is the iiirjmmodation of thd big leagues to the workday. The theater
a no the r.Th ew alls epar at ingt het wor oom s is on l y p o r t i o l l y r e m o v e d .
the proscenium district * often also a sex and restaurant district - stimulates consumer
The arch itself emphasizes this incomplete removal' As
appetites by offering a series of shows just as each show offers a
theaterdevelopedfromtheseventeenththroughthetwentiethcentur-
it all but vanished, sequence of scenes. Competition is fierce among theaters - !t_r-is com-
ies the forestage iutting into the house receded until
and house' The petition is for custo.mers not prizes; when prizes are given they are
eliminating any sharing of space between the stage
of ttre twentieth century has once again made used to attract more customefs. Regardless of their artistic quality, most
open-theater
been attempted in shows fail (which means they don't attract buyers), but hits run as long
the playing space part of the viewing space' This has
-ouarnant
I
theater' In the as people will pay to see them. Thus, in all these ways, the prosc_eniur.rr" :1,,.,
many variations - thrust stage, arena, environmental
audience is a theater is a model of capitaiism. Today, as capitalism evolyes-into cor-
proscenium theater the part of the stage visible to the
poratis-m, new klfd$-O.f-theater arise. Cultural Sgnters and re6lgaal
surprisinglysmallportionoftheareabehindtheproscenium.Inthe
Greek theater .lmost .t space was visible' as well as the city and gpg"tt - art fortresses
run by impresarigs
o.ffiu.r, by boards*Ildir-
"ry theater dctors'- are examples of corpor_4$sm. Environmental theaters - built in
J5il"irvria. behind and around the theater. In the prostelri*m
b'irsare dll con- cheap hit-and-rrrn ,p"."r, iiffi in out-of-the-way neighborhoods -
the wings, flies, dressing-r6oms, offiCes, and storage
exemplify a resistance and alternative to the conglomerates. But
cealed.Th.,t,g"andbackstageportionsofthebuildingusuallyoccuPy
the stage environmental theaters exist only in the creases of contemporary
fr6*r'e than half the area of the theater, but from the house
wings were society, living offthe leavings, Iike cockroaches.
looks much less spacious than the house' Flies and

iI '
&
.|85
.|84 Tow A R D A P oE rl c s oF P E R FoR MA T.TC T
rownno A p o Er tcs o F PERF o RM ANcE

'ir...
Creasesare not marginal, on the edge, but iiminal, in between' They scenograPhYin this theater is the nonrealisticand metaphysical
.\:
run through the actual and conceptual centers of society, like faults in treatmentof time and Place.
they t974:35-8)
(Awasthi
n the Earth's crust. Creasesare places to hide, but more importantly
signal areas of instability, d.isturbance, and potentially radical changes
"changes in direc- - and
in-the social topography. TheSd-Changesare always Traditional Indian theater is vg1' like western medieva-I,theater
tu' tion," that is, challg*es of something mor-e than technique' In the urban modern avant-garde or experimental theater. The performer often
has a

environmenr, in pilies abandoned, or nbt yet reclaimed, individuals second or third occupation, but this does not mean that his skills as a
and small groups can still work. Even in large, apparently smooth opera- oerformer are amateurish; far from it, a connection to a community
tions like corporations and universities, creases exist; Iook for them' may d""p"n all aspects of his art. The flexible treatment of time and
quite literally, in "out of the way places'" Crease phenomena do not space - the abiiity of one space to be transformed into many places
tr"rrrfo.- existing neighborhoods instantly, is when bulldozers herald through the skills of the performer more than through the illusionistic
the erection of a new cultural center whose monuments rest on
mur- devices of the scenographer - goes hand in hand with a transforma-
dered neighborhoods, bur srep by step through infiltration and renova- tional view of character (role doubling, role switching) and a close
tion. At the time when a balance/tension exists between several classes, contact with the audience (the performer both as character and as
income levels, interests, and uses - as was the case in the 1960s
and story-teller, the use ofsuch devices as the aside and direct address to the
1970s in New York's SoHo district - crease phenomena - experimental audlEite). This connectedness - a mobiiity among spheres of reality
art, bars, caf6s, and clubs, Iively street performances' parties
where rather than social mobility in the modern sense - is an important
- But when a threshold of visibility and "stabil- quality of traditional performances, and even the avant-garde' This
arrisrs congregate peak.
ity" is,c-1ossed,the neighborhood,"fre-ezes in a new form' becomes
an kind of total theater is nowhere better expressed than among the
,,aftracrion" the rhearer dlstrlci wt ich draws'frost of its life from Aborigines:
(like
-
outside its ovm precinct) and the crease is smoothed out. Then artists
need a crease envii6iment - follow along' or create' a The dailylife of the Aboriginesis rewardingbut routine'Thereis a kind
and others who
new fauit. of low-keypace to the everydayround of living. ln their ritual lives,
Theaters everywhere are scenographic models of sociometric pro- however,the Aboriginesattain a heightenedsense of drama. Sharp
cess. pointing out that "most of the traditional theater performances images appear and colors deepen.The Aborigines are masters of
organized on the level ground' a plat- stagecraftand achieveremarkablevisual and musicaleffectswith the
iof India] are open-air events,
processional spectacle," Suresh Awasthi goes limited materialsat hand. . . . GraduallyI experienced the centraltruth
forn', ,,.g", or as a mobile
: a t i t i s n o t a th i n g b y
o f A b o r i g i n a lr e l i g i on th i tse l fb u t a n i n se p a r a b l e
on to sav:
part of a whole that encompassesevery aspect of daily life, every
They are presentedin fields after the harvest,streets,oPen spaces' individualand evertime - Past,Presentand future. lt is nothing less
outsidetown (often permanentlydesignatedfor performances)'
fairs' than the theme ofexistence,and as such constitutesone ofthe most
and - especially for the Ramayana and the Krishna legend s o p h i s t i c a t e da n d un i q u e r e l i g i o u sa n d p h i l o so p h i casyste
l m skn o w n
markets
shows- temple gardens,riverbanks,marketsquares,and courtyards' to man.
( Go u l dr 9 5 9 : r o 3 - 4 ) 8
. . . The performancesare social events not sep-qratedfrom'-tlg com-
mua1t13g11yity. Thracior is an activemembei of his community'He is
alsol farmer, a mechanic,a carPenter,a fruit vendor, a vegetable We are accustomed to a theater that locates "the real" in relationships
haWGi . . . An important factor that determinesthe nature of the among individual people; but most of world theater takes a broader,
.l86 Tow A R D A poE Trc s oF pE R FoR MA r.rc e I87
rown no A Po Er lc s oF PERFoRM ANc E

western theater is mimetic' new piaEs-'lutbe-sagial- -order; this move is agceded.to or blocked; in
and deeper,view of what's real' Mo4ern
in this c-tegory' either case a crisis occurs because any change in status invoives a
ir"ditiorr"l the3!er,and agail I include th*eav$larde
tilEiter place what cannot readiustment of the entire scheme; this-re4-{jF-qtg"Iefi'i$ effected
t iro*totfiotio-'ni'qeatinS:o;-incarnatingin a
ediule-fibodsare perQ_rmatively * that is, by means of theater and ritual. Turner writes:
;;"=i;'6Av*t'.r" Justill-flarm is a field *heie
"hJ.
'1,.-
;H;;*afi", is a placewhere transformations ld a r i si n g
-t--ll*t:ql"*l
Aborigine scen- S o c i a ld r a m a sa r e u n i ts o f a h a r m o n i co r d i sh a r m o n i c.p r o ce ss,
(humarran*non-hufrefr"fare accomplished'
.{ i.rporrt natural and built ele- in cqnfljilsituations. Typically, they have four main phasesof public
;gr;phy .r"",", theater out of a combiniiioffif action.. . . These are t. BJlach.ofregular,norm-governedsocialrela-
is embeddedin a inatrix of
ments.Eachrock, waterhole,tree,and streim t i o n s .. . . 2 . ; $ g 4 " d u r i n gw h i ch . . . th e r ei s a te n d e n cyfo r th e b r e a chto
place is where a cere-
legend and dramatic action' Thus a particular widen. . . . Eath pu-b_lic crisis has what I now call liminal character-
in the past'
*'ony t"t place, where a mythic event has happened istics,sinceit is a thresholdbetweenmore or lessstablephasesof the
", songs and dances' and
*fr.r" U.rng, manifest themselvesthrough socialprocess,but it is not a sacredlimen, hedgedaround by taboos
- for example' a water-
*h.r" euery-dayand specialactions converge and thrust away from the centersof public life. On the contrary,it
come to drink andrvhere,ceremonies
hole is both p1.." wlelepeople takes up its menaci+g..stance in the forum itselfand, as it were,dares
;;;;.;;.
"
it*pr. *oalnttti""s of space transform the drinking
the representatives of order to grapplewith it. . . .3. Redress'rue action
into a theater: clearing the
i place (or some other multiple-use space) '
for example; or a [ranging]from personaladviceand informal meditationcirTditration
oi small rocks, doing sand or rock paintings,
I

I the to formal judicialand legalmachineryand, to resolvecertainkinds of


"r." theatt by being "Iearned" - a novice is taught
;;.. *"y becomea
i
crisis or legitimateother modes or resolution,to the performanceof

II f
iJg."ar, ,orrgr,
"nd
dances associatedwith a particular
orl"onuitsef ls sotialized; the uninitiated see
place:
nothing but an outqop-
while the initialed experiencea dense
geo-
. p u b l i c r i t u a l . . . . R e d r e ss,to o , h a s i ts l i m i n a l fe a tu r e s,i ts b e i n g
"betwixtand between,"and, as such,furnishesa distancedreplication
fi"rt;';i t*--oi".- *ut"'r'ole;
I *i1rt."f setting.This technique of creatingii theaier
place by poetic
of guerrilla th94er alike'
, a n d c r i t i q u eo f t h e e v e n tsl e a d i n gu p to a n d co m p o si n gth e "cr i si s."
. This feBlicationmay be in the rationa.l.idionrof a judicial process,or in

In meansis used by Shake8rcareand the makers

TR ANSF ORMA NCE S


t' '
: the metjrph_o-lcal and symbolic idiom of a ritual process.. . . 4. The
, final phase. . . . consists either of the reintgglali.onof rhe disturbed
social group or of the social recognition and legitimization of

L
I Victor Turne t \197 +) analyzes
dramas" using theatrical 'ter-
"spgial or crisis situations
are-.dealt
i rreparableschism betweencontesting parties.
(Turnen 974:37-4l)
lr minology to describe how disharmonic
[, combats' rites of passage - are
with. These situattons - arguments'

tI
I

they show' Thls way of growing by means of conflict and schisrrqlatqson calls
not only do things'
inherentlv dramatlc because participants "schismogsngsis" (1958: 17 1-97).It is a major agenE glluman
thrrnr4u* ondotherswhot theyorerloingor hove
^'..'*;";";m''@Tirins
done;actions take on a leflglve
Goffman (1e5e) is as
cultural growth. Y
d6fuan believesall Tirrner's dramatic approachis interesting on many ievels.The rep-
direct as Turner rn using *re theatrical-pgradigm' lication of the redressiveaction phaseis, of course,a theatricalperflorm-
sociaiinteractionsare - ptop1ffi"p"re their socialroGs..(vari
'iugta ance,a formal_restaging_of events.The four-phaseproceiisasa whole is
techniques of roleo]ttTtJ^'iS5
""t ta;r."".';, ;tSrt, Iiff"""t
"m-ti}-stage" in order to play out l<ey
a dramain the Euro-Americantradition - this schemecan be discerned
stage"'and then enter the areas
r tn Greek tragedies,Shakespearean plays, or the dramas of Ibsen or
and Goffman the basiC
i socialinteractionsand routineiFor both Turner O'Neill.li is l-.r. to fina]ri Chelihor,,Ionesco,or Beckett- Uit it it
group begins to move to bl
, human plot is the same:someoneor some ""ry
\..

' 1 8 8T OWA RD A P OE TICS OF PERFORM ANCE


TO W A R D A P O E TI C S O F P E R FO R MA N C

"lmrngid," meaning they are like


there; the way it is distorted gives an insight into dramatic stlucture. TheseTirrner (1982, 1985) calls
but not-i-depti,9{to them. Basicallyiiminai rite-sar6i6Jig-
For example, in woiting for Godotthere is breach (the separation from fr'nt"a**t
while liminoid ar6-;a entertainmenisare ,,oluntary' However,
Godot) and crises (waiting, the arrival of the Boy at the end of each act atory
crisis,
to teli Gogo and Didi that Godot will not come). There is a negative but th" qrr"stion remains: is Tirrner's four-phasepatterffif breach,
"nothing" - action, and reintegration (or schism) acgafly a theatrical
extended redressive action: the doing of various bits of redressive
vaudeville routines that universal- or.llir-an imposition of a western co.-4cept? Turnei*Sho*s
talk that has no effect on the dramatic action,
emphasize all that the frow lh" social process of the Ndein6ir of Uganda conforms to this
fi.ll up time but achieve nothing: these routines
no reintegration, nor is dramatistic paradigm. show how Aborigf1e, Papua New
characters can (not) do. But in Godotthere's l -ggpld
there a schism. The piay rimply stbps and if iny future is suggested it Guinea,and Indiao--theaieralso,conform. But what is the cost of this
"the drama analogy . . . can
simplyt6iitinues the present indefinitely' Significantly the play ends conformity? As Clifford Geertz notes,
.some of the profoundes-tfeatures of social-process' but at
with stage direction "They do-not !ggY-e." Most other dramas, the plays expose
of Shakespeareand lbsen, for example, end either with a iourney
-to the expense of making vividly disparate m4tte$ look drably
of corpses, to go to the homogeneous" (1980a:I 73).
get crowned, to go to the grave to dispose
iuthorities ro relate what's happened - or with some reintegrative I want to go beyond what may be, after all, just an elaboratetauto-
gesture such as Tesman's determination, at the close of HeddcGabler,to logy. The basic performance structure of gathering/performing/
reconstruct Lovborg's manuscript. Life literally
"Cgglgn This move- dispersingunderlies and literally contains,the dramatlc structure:
ment which ends so many dramas is akin to the lto, mi550 est which
concludes the Mass: it is a dismissal of the audience, a signal within the
ii ctrming to a close, that the Breach{risis-Redressive action-Reinte gration
drama itself that the theatriiii'event
spectators must prepare to move on. The audience disperses, spreading
,h" ,r.*, (good or bad) of the show. Even a play as non-conventional
and non,religious as Mother courcgeand Her childlen follows this nearly
of The bottom iine is solidarity, not conflict. C"qgt_.j. it supportable (in
universal p"rt.rrr. The play climaxes in scene 11 with the murder
final scene shows Courage' the theater, and perhaps in society too) only insld! 1n;g!11[i.rom the
Kattrin, Courage's last child. The next and
her agreement ta.g4l:her at a specific time and place, to perform - to do
by means of the lullaby and funeral arrangements, taking leave ,of
the final couplets of Shake- something igreed on - and to disperse once the friltiimance is over.
daughter. The play's tag - comparable to
The extreme forms of violence that characterize drama can be played
,p"*."r, drama - is Courage's shout as she hitches herself to her
out only inside this nest. When people "go to the theater"e they are
wagon, "I've got to get back into business' Hey, take me with you!"
acknowledgin[friit th""te. takes place at special times in special places.
the last action of the piay is Courage marching off, on the move again'
at a Surrounding a show are special observances, practices, and rituals that
The song is the same as that which started the play, but played
or tragic stupidity? lead into the performance and away from it. Not only getting to the
,lo*.r t"mpo: is this stubborn determination
theater district, but enteqing the buitding itself involves ceremony:
Whatever the meaning of the last sigtiind sound' - and meanfi$'will
- the action is clear: courage is tickertaking, passing through gates, performing rituals, finding a place
vary according to different mises-en-scine
irom which to watch: ail this - and the procedures vary from culture to
on the road, walking and working.
culture, event to event - frames and defines the performance. Ending
Turner further asserts that the 1@!+al-Fhases of the rites of tribal'
the show and going away alid involves ceremony: applause or some
: agrarian, hunting, and tradiliolal sbcieties are an-aiogoui t-o the ilt-
tormal way to conclude the performance and wipe away the reality of
II works and leisure aclivilies of indls.trial and post-industrial societies.
I
I
&
F

t;
t
D:
t-
,l \l-''1r\ I t '' e- "'
' :-: ' \i ,
'1
, .i r o w AR D A p o Er tcs o F p ER Fo R M AN ce l 9 l
190 r oweno A poEr t cs o F P E R F o R M A N c E

the show re-establishing in its place the reality of everyday iife. The actually murdered,'o are deceiving themselves if they think they are
performers even more than the audience prepare and then, when the xpproaching a deeper or more essential reality. A1l of these actions -
show is over, undertake "cooling-off' procedures ln many cultures ft" tft" Roman gladlatorial games or Aztec human sacrifices - are as
tiiii looting off involves rituals to retire props or coslumes or to assist symbolic and make-believe as anything'iise on stage. What happens is
performers out of trance or other non-ordinary states of being' Too that living beings are reified into symbolic agents. Such reification is
little study has been made of how people - both spectators and per- monsrrous, I condemn lt without exception. It is no justification to
formers - approach and leave performances. How do specific audiences point out that modern warfare does the same, kiliing "things" at a
get to, and into, the performance space; how do they go from that dirtrr,..". Nor will these blood performances act as a cathartic: violence
space? In what ways are gathering/dispersing related to preparation/ replicated, oi actualized, stimulate-s mor.'e-.violence. It also deadens
cooling ofi? people's abilities to intervene outside the theater when they see
The "theatrical frame" allows spectators to enioy deep feelings violence being done.
r without feeiing compelled elther to lntervene or to avoid witnessi.ng Turner locates the essential drama in conflict and conflict resolution.
it in tronsformction- in how people use theater as a way to
the"iiiions that arorije those feelings. A spectator better not prevent the .l locate
murders occurring in Hcmiet.Yet these stage mu-rders are not '1195-1eal" tsp"rim"nt with, act out, and ratlfy change. Transformations in theater
but "differently real" than what happens in evs1y-daylife Theater, to be occur in three different places,-and at three different levels: 1) in the
effecti re, *nti *"itttaln its double or incomplete Presence, as a here- drama, that is, in the story;112) in the performers whose special task it
I qnd-now perlormonce of tliere-and-then events.The gap between "here and is to undergo a temporary reanangement of their body/mind, what I call a
"there and then" allows an audierice to cont-e:nplate the "transportation" (Schechner1985: 117-51):3) in the audiencewhere
now'; and
action, and to entc.I]lain alternatives. Theater is the art of enacting only changes may either be temporary (entertainment) or permanent (rit-
one of a range of virtual alternatives. It is a luxury unaffordable in ual). A11over the world performances are accompanied by eating and
ordinary life. Oedipus would be much different if there were a plague drinking. In New Guinea, Australia, and Africa feasting is at the very
affiicting the town where the drama was being played and the audience center of theater; in modern western theater a show without some-
believed the plague would end if the murderer of their former mayor - thing to eat or drink at intermission or iust before or after the theater i.s
unusual. This action recalls not only the chimpanzee carnivals but the
a murderer they knew to be concealed in their midst - was found and
hunting circuit; it suggeststhat theater stimulates appetites,that it is an
brought to iudgement here and now.
oral/visceral art (see Kaplan 19 68). And, as L6vi-Strausqtrasshown, the
some people want performance to achieve this level of actuality. As
basic transformation from raw to cooked is a paradfdr.If
rhearer approaches this llmit it changes fundamentally: small real culture-
making: the making of the narural into the human. u *.iit'i deepesrleuel
actions are substituted for big fictional semblances. A female has her
this is what thearer is "about," the ability t" flfiL
body scarred or a male is circumcised. These "real actions" are them= and conrrol, ro
transform the raw into the cooked, to deal with the most Dioblematic
selves emblems or symbols. But when the theatrical frame is imposed,
(violent, dangeFots, sexual,' il6oo) human inreracrions.
strongiy it permits the enactment of "aesthetic dramas," shows-frh-dSe
At all levels theater includes mechanisms for transformation. At the
actions, Iike Oedipus poking out his o#n eyail are extreme but recog-
level of the staging there are costumes and masks, exercisesand incan-
nized by everyone, including the performers, as a "playing with'l
tations,incense and music, all designed to "make believe" in the literal
rather than a "real doing of," itti, "playing with" is not weaii ;i:"fdhe'
' sense- to help the performer make her,/himself into another person
it .unt"t changes to both performers and spectators' or
"everything ani' being, existing at another time in another place,
People who want to make rea1," including killing and to manifest this
presencehere and now,
*als, lhe "art" of self-mutilation, or "snuff films" where P,eolle ue in this theater, so that time and place are at least
r o w AR D A p o Er r cs o F p ER Fo R M AN ce I 9 3
192 T OWA RD A POETICS OF PERFORM ANCE

In aesthetic drama
doubled. If the transformation works, individual spectators will experi- some are more decisively involved than others.
in the theater is a participal1 i1 the ?e,*rmoncewhile only
ence changes in mood and/or consciousness;these changes are usua\ everyone
piaying.roles in the drama are participants in the dramonested
temporary but sometimes they can be permanent' In some kinds of tiiose
th. p"ifoi*.o.e (see chapter 3). The p"tfot.tt*i" as distinct
performance - rites of passage,for example - a permanent change in *ufrt"
from the drama.is social, and it is at the level of performance that
the sratus of the participants is accomplished. But all these changes are
aesthetic and sociai drama converge. The function of aesthetic drama is
in the service of social homeostasis. Chang_T affecting individuals or
rc do for the consciousness of the oudience whot socioldromodoesfor its participcnts:
groups help maintain the balance of the whole- system' For exampie,
a place for, and means of transformation. Rituals carry parti-
it's necessaryto change girls into women (in an initiation rite) because oroviding
.ip".t,r across limens, transforming them into different persons. For
somewhere else within the system women are being changed into
example a young man is a "bachelor" and through the ceremony of
dead people (ln funeral rites); a vacancy exists that must be filled'
he becomes a "husband." His status during that ceremony,
These vacanciesdon't occur on a simple one-to-one basis, but accord- marriage
"groom." Groom is the liminai role he plays
but only then, is that of
ing ro sysrem-wide probabilities. It is less easy to see how this works in
while transforming from bachelor into husband. Aesthetic drama
an aesthetic drama, say a performance of Eugene O'Neill's long Doyt
compels a transformation of the spectators' view of the world by rub-
Journeyinto Night.
bing their senses against enactments of extreme events, much more
The ke.y -difference between social and aesthetic dramas is the per-
exrreme than they would usually witness. The nesting pattern makes it
formancq of the transformarions effected. Some kinds of so*ial drama
possible for the spectator to reflect on these events rather than flee from
such as feuds, tgals, it permanelll*qhange ln other kinds
""ii;t-t "tr them or intervene in them. That reflection is the liminal time during
of performance which share quallties of social and aesthetic
-b-gth which the transformation of consciousnesstakesplace.
drama - rites of passage,political-ceremonies - changes in status are
The situation for the actor in aesthetic drama is complicated because
pe.rs*.+ent (or at least canno,t li-rindone except through more ritual) '
- the wearing of some the drama is repeated many times and each time the actor is supposed
while changesin thlbgdy iii
"ith"t-1-potary circumcision' The to start from nearly the same place. In other words, in western theater
costume- or not severe:piercing an ear or septum,
at least, although spectators come and go, and they are encouraged to
ordeals which are features of initiation rites, though extreme relative to
change, techniques have been developed to prepare actors for, and
ordinary experience are temporaiy. But the idea of these body mark-'
bring them down from, the experience of playing relatively unchanged
ings, aiterations, and ordeals is to signal and/or mark and enforce a
- no more changed than any ordinary career changes a person. Meta-
permanent change in the participants. In aesthetic drama no p-erman'
phorically speaking, the actor is a circular printing press who, in roll-
ent body .h"tgJ is effected. A gap is intentionally opened--liei*een
ing over makes an impression on her audience; but she is not ready to
what happen;-iJ tft. !-gU4.t in the story and what hdppens to the
roll over again untll she is back in her original position. For each
perfolilL-9ls, playing that story. To play a person in love, or someone
performance there is a new audience on whom an impression is to be
who murders or is murdered (common enough in western theater) ' or
made. The actor makes a journey that ends where it began, while the
to be transformed into a god, or to go into a trance (common audience is "moved" to a new place. In aesthetic drama techniques
enough in non-western theater) involves fundamental, if tem-porary' have been develooed to transform the actor into the role and other
transformations of bein g, no1 melq appearance' techniques are used to bring her back to her ordinary self. In some
Aesthetic ditrna woffi itJ transformations on the audience. In aes- ritual theater the officiators are very like actors in aesthetic drama: the
thetic drama the audience is separated Uottr iitualty and conceptually shaman working a cure must effect change in the patient, and often
of the audiencen the hallmark'
flrom the performers.This separateness aoes this by transforming into anorher being; but at the end of the
of aesthetic drama. In social-drama all present are participantS, ihoug\

It
.l 95
I 9 4 ro wnn o A poEr t c s oF PERFoRM ANc E 4 - \\a "r$
Tow A R D A P oE Tl c s oF P E R FOR MA T.TC e

- the existence of theater


performance the sham4l must return-to-her/his ordinary existence. It acdon process. The actualization of art
,,g"rlilo,' .,get combining the sociai with the aesthetic - is tradltional in many parts
is the ability ,o and back from" that makes rhe shaman
a continuallyn."ftt'friiirtt, not a ferson'to be usedonceonly' Thus of the world. Thus avant-garde and political theater find already
of performance:-1) where
a.eiihelic' preParedpaths'
thereaqeat leastthreecategories
while the performer "rolls over"; I have tried in my work with The Performance Group and since, and
rhe audiencechangesconsciousness
in my teaching, tEJilaeethe actuality of perfciiilItGs in the immediate
2-)ritual, *her" t# subieci of ,h" ..,.*ony is transformedwhile the
#ciating performer "rolls over"; 3) sociai drama, where all i.nvolved theatrical event I am staging. I emphasize the gathering and dispersing
change(seeSchebhner 1985: 1 17-50)' aspects of performance. Upon entering the theater spectators are
The ambiguity of theater since 1950 regarding whether or not ereeted, either by me or by the actors. Spectators see the performance
- actors getting musicians tuning up,
event is "r"illy h^pp"ning" is an outcome of the blurring of the 6.i"g-irt.p"t"d Tjgcostume,
technical equipment checked, etc. Intermissions, and less formal
boundaries between the categories of performance' Eieie{ion has
breaks in the narration such as scene shifts, are underlined. In Mother
made it possible to theafiicalize qp.erience by editing even the mol
Couruge a full meal was served during intermission * during this break
intimate or horrendous events into "news" so that people feei nothin
in the narration the performance was carried on by other means, by
srange about a complementary actualization of art (see Schec
"life" are bl mingling performers and audience, by encouraging spectators to use
1985: 295-324). The boundaries between "art" and
parts of the space otherwise and at other times reserved for the per-
and permeable.when people watch extremeeventsknowing thesear$
formers (see chapter a). I try to establish non-story-telling time as an
1) actually happening and 2) edited to make the eventsboth morg
"showtime" fo integrai part of the whole performance scheme, while cleariy separat-
dramatic and more palatable, fitting them into a
ing this time from the drama. When the drama is over I speak to
but aisoknowing 3) thaLasobserversthey are stripped of ali'pot
spectators as they are leaving. I direct many of them to where the
oflr-rtervention- that is, they are turned into an audiencein the
performers are so that-tfii experience ends not with a dramatic
sense - the reaction of anger quickly dissolves into paralysis and
moment, or even the curtain call, but with discussions, greetings, and
pair, or indifference. Maybe apPetites are aroused, but these can't t l ^ - ..^ .^ l - :-
^^
insi l c4 vc- td [l l IX) .
satlsfied except by going on the shopping sprees the commercials
The histJry of intermissions in the western theater is an interesting
.." ,r.."rr"ry for happiness.Emotional feedbackis not possible
as example of the importance of the underlying social event as a nest for
watching TV f{.1s not a two-way communications system
the theatrical event. When performances were staged outdoors (Greek,
theater is. Some"-people react by making and/or--enioying
medieval, Ellzabethan) the spectators could see each other in daylight.
that;i more "real," introducing into aesthetics the interventions
The court performances of masques and dramas in the Renaissancewere
feedback eliminated from ordinary life. so lit that spectators could see each other as well as the actors. This kind
Thus it is-4o longer strange in theater or performance art of general illumination, and a mixing of focus including spectators as
the audience directly in the story, to stage actual encounters well as actors, Continued throughouttheieventeenth and eighteenth
peopicl-ind to use theatrical eventsai the first step in a process centuries. But as scene changes began to netessitate complicated
rellgious refieats and meetings (as.-Grotrcwskidid) ' These are att maghinery which producers wanted to mask from the audience, the
- which today
to r=egain some balance between--inToTmation IroIIt curtain was introduced and step by step the forestage was elimin-
whelms people - and action, which seems more and more dificult
ated. Also changes in lighting, especially the introduction first of gas
effect. Terrorism, as opposed to ordinary street violence' is a way and then eiectricity in the nineteenth
cenrury, widened the gap
getting the auention of society,of mqklag3-shg1y;it is a symptorr Detween stage and
house until the stife was brightly lit andlhe house
the Uisic dysfunction of the communication-feedback
.|9 6
rown no A poEr r c s oF pERFoRM ANc E r o w AR D A p o ETr cs o F p ER Fo R M AN ce I 9 7

dark. In this situation naturalism arose, with its slice-oflife and peep- handle: audience participation, envitonmental staging, muiti-focus,
ing-Tom staging. Along with these conventions came the intermission: etc. These were combined with the traditional theatrical means of our
a formal period when the house was illuminated and the spectators, culture: narration and characterization.
either remaining in the house or trouping to lounges and restaurants,
had the opportunity to see and mingle with each other. The intermis-
DO
WHA TP E RF O RMER S : T H EE C S T A S Y / T R A W
NCHEE E L
sion served a purpose, not necessary either in outdoor or fully lit'
theaters: that of giving the spectators a chance to see themselves" Looking at performing worldwide, two processes are identifiable. A
Inter4rlission confirms the existence of the "gatheri4g," a group, performer is either
"subtracted," achieving transparency,.elipinating
assembled specifically to attend this particular theatricai event. Why i'from the creative'p?6Eii$ the resistance and obstacies caused by one's
don't movies have intermissions? Because movies lack a group of live' own organism" (Grotowski 1968a: 178); or s/he is "added to,"
entertainers on stage, they are barely social at all. Sporting events arg' becoming more or other than s/he is when not performing. S,/he is
social, and feature intermissions (halftime, seventh-inning stretch, ,a "doublgd," to use Artaud's word. The first technlque, that of the
card of bouts or races). Performances which keep the audience in the shaman, is gc:tasy; tft"ieco"a, that of theEftnese dancer, is trance. In
dark with no intermission generate anxiety and contradict the social the'riest *Jil"u" terms for these two kinds J acting: th6-icior in
impulses of theater. I do not condemn such performances, but note ecstasy is Ryszard G.roto.Wski's "holy
Ciesl$-"in The Cons-tgn_t_*Prince,
that they run against the grain of the western tradition; in the deepest actor"; the actor in trance possessed by another, is Konstantin
sense they are unconventional. Stanislavsky as Vershinin, the "character actor."
My directing is intended to show the audience that "a story is bein$ To be in tranCd"is not to be out of control or unconscious. The
played for you, all around you, needing your active support." These Balinese say that if a trance dancer hurts himself the trance was not
techniques emphasize the "performance nest" inside which the genuine. In some kinds of trance the possessedand the possessorare
happens. Performers in The Performance Group were trained to both visible. Jane Belo describes a Balinese horse dance where
their double identities: as themseives and.as-the. characters they
playing By keeping theseboth out front spectatorsseeperformers the playerwould start out riding the hobbyhorse,being,so to speak,
only ;rCting but choosingto oct. Even "being in character" ls seen as the horseman.But in his tranceactivityhe would soon becomeidenti-
choice not an inevitibiliiy. Thus the spectator, too, ls encouraged fiedwith the horse- he would prance,gallopabout,stamp and kickas
choose how to receive each action. There is no fixed seating, a horse - or perhapsit would be fairer to say that he would be the
actions go on simultaneously - spectators can shift focus from horseand riderin o-ne.Forthough he would sit on the hobbyhorse,his
aspect of the performance to another. By no means are ali these legshad to servefrom the beginningas the legsofthe beast.
concerned with the drama: a spectator can focus on a perfbrmer ( Be l or 9 6 o : zr 3 )
ging costume (that is, becoming another character), the technical
other spectators, etc. Instead of worklng for a unanimity of reaction, This is the centaur; and it is an example of the performer's double
in orthodox theater, I strive for a diversity of opportunities. identity. When, in western theater, we speak of an actor "portraying a
encourage spectators to react intellectually and ideoiogically as well role," using a metaphor from painting where the artist studies a subject
emotionally. What is "realiy happening" is a gathering of spectators and produces an image of that subject, we slide away from the main
different ages, sexes, classes,and ideologies watching a group of tactof theatrical performance: that the "portrayal" is a transformation
formers teil a story by theatrical means. Within this context ot the performer's body,/mind - the "canvas" or "material" is the
pertormer. Interviewing Balinese performers
formance Group expiored the most radical theatricai means we of songhyongs,
village trance
. l98 .|9 9
r owlno A p o Errc so F p ER F o R MA N c E To w AR D A POETIC SOF PER FOR M AT'r C E

performances,Goesti Made Soemeng(GM), a Balinesemember pig escaped from the courtyard. He was not caught until the
olaying a
Belo'sresearchteam,probed the way trancepossession
happens: "He had by that time ravaged the gardens, trampled and
irexr morning.
plants, which was not good for the village' He had also, being
eatenrhe
GM: Whatis yourfeelingwhenyouarefirstsmoked)'3 large quantities of excreta he had found in the roadways,
I pig, eaten
Dorja:Somehowor othersuddenlyI loseconsciousness.
The *-hi.h *m not good for him" (Belo 1960: 202).
sing ingI hear .lf peoplec all out , c allingm e " T j i t t a h ! "[ a p i g c a l l ] Belo finds these accounts "surprisingly satisfactory," and I do too.
that, I hear it too. lf peopletalk of other things, I don't hear it. that trance performing is a kind of character acting: being
They show
GM: When you are a sanghyangpig, and people insult you, do by another = becoming another. Eliade says that shamans,
oossessed
hearitl often possessedby animals.
ioo,
Darjo:I hearit. lf anyoneinsultsme I am furious. "t"
6M: Whenyoufinishplaying, howdo youfeel,tiredor notl During seancesamong the Yakut, the Yukagir,the Chukchee,the
Darja:Whenit's just over,I don't feeltiredyet. But the nextdayor G o l d i , t h e E s k i m o a n d o th e r s, w i l d a n i m a l cr i e s a n d b i r d ca l l s a r e
dayafterthat,my bodyis sick. . . heard.Castagnedescribesthe Kirgiz-Tartar baqcarunning around the
CM: Whenyoubecomea sanghyang snake, whatis thefeelinglike, tent, springing, roaring,leaping;he "barks like a dog, sniffs at the
wheredo youfeelyourbodyto be) audience,lows like an ox, bellows,cries,bleatslike a lamb, grunts like
Darma:WhenI'm a sanghyang snake,suddenlymy thoughtsare a pig, whinnies,coos, imitatingwith remarkableaccuracythe criesof
c iou s T
. h u s ,m y fe e l i n g b
s e i n gd e l i c i ous
suddenl Iy see a n i m a l s ,t h e s o n g so f b i r d s, th e so u n d o fth e i r fl i g h t a n d so o n , a l l o f
i likeforest,woods,with manymanytrees.Whenmy bodyis like which greatlyimpresseshis audience."The "descentof the spirits"
I as a snake,my feelingis of goingthroughthe woods,and I oftentakesplacein this fashion.
I
olea s e...
d (Eliader97o: 97)'a
i\, CM: And if you'rea sanghyang puppy,whatdoesyourbodyfeel
Wheredo youfeelyourself to bel And, as I noted in chapter 4, this kind of performing associatedwith
ii'
l,
sil Darja:ljustfeellikea puppy.I feelhappytorunalongtheground.I trickster figures and hunters arose very early in human history (see La
verypleased, just likea puppyrunningon the ground.As longas Barre 797 2: 19 5-6) .
iii
fi c anru no n th eg ro u n dI', m h a p p y . Balinese trance, shamanic possession, and the trickster are not
iil
I 6M: And if you'rea sanghyangpotato,wheredo you feelyourselfto examples of acting from the Stanislavsky tradition. But nor are they
il an d lik ewhat l essentially different. Stanislavsky developed exercises - sense memory,
i
Ii.l Darma'. I feel I am in the garden,like a potato plantedin the garden. emodonal recall, playing the throughJine of action, etc. - so that actors
il CM: And if you're a sanghyangbroom, what's it like, and where could "get inside ofl' and act "as if' they were other people. Stanis-
I
f
you feell Iavsky's approach is humanist and psychological, but still a version of
F
I Darma: Likesweepingfilth in the middle of the ground. Like the ancient technique of performing by becoming or being possessed
I
it filth in the street,in the village.I feel I am beingcarriedoff by by another.
broom,ledon to sweep. Beio (1960: 223) saysthat the pleasure ofthe "trance experience is
t
B (Belor 95o:z connected with the surrendering of the self-impulse. . . . Being a pig, a
[' toad, a snake, or a creepy spirit are ali enactments of the feeling of
l
I
I Belo notes that "a considerable crowd had to be present to insure lowness in a very literal, chiidish and direct manner." She thinks that
I the trancer did not get out of hand. " She tells of the time when a urge to be low" is one of the foundations of trance.t' To be low is to
ll
TowARDA poETr csoF pERFoRM Ar uce
20. l
2 00 ro wan o A PoEr t c s oF PERFoRM ANc E

- playing with e - smoothness,efficiency - but of making sure that all the


takethe physicalperspectiveof a child' To be filthy our sense
regression to infantile behavior' It opensa ch; orescribedsteps
are takenin proper order.Propriety is more important
ment and mud - is a
tragedy'ru Finally' artistry in the Euro-Americansense.If the material is new every
to farce - and farce is probably more ancient than than
be iow is to escape from rigid mores - being low is a way to be free' careis takenthat it is learnedexactlyand passedon intact.
But these phenomena ottly half of the dialectic of performil During his poor theaterphase (1959-68) Grotowski followed a
^ie
The other half is ecstasy: a soaring away from the body' an emptying orocedure close to that of the Aborigines. But instead of seeking
the body. Eliade: material in the Dreamtime (archeology, history), Grotowski's
performerssought it in their own experiences.
a new' magical
The shamaniccostumetends to givethe shaman
in animal form. The three chief types are that of the bird' the rei In our opinion,the conditionsessential to the art,of actingarethe
"ob;eit
(stag) and the bear - but especiallythe bird' " '
Feathersare following,and should be made:i6e of a methodical
or less everywhere in the descriptions of shamanic investigation:
tioned more
theverystructure
tumes.Moresignificantly, of the costumes seeks (a)To stimulatea process of self-revelation,
goingbackas far as the
as the
possible shape of a bird' " ' Sib subconscious, yet canalizing"IfiG*ffiiilusin order to obtainthe
imitateas faithfully
Eskimoand NorthAmerican shamans fly'All overtheworldthe required reaction.
magical power is credited to sorcerersand
medicine men' ' ' ' (b) To be ableto artlculate
this process,disciplineit, and convertit
analysis of the symbolism of magicalflight would leadus intosigns.In concrete terms,thii-meansto constructa scorewhose
ade-quate
mythical motifs h niitesare tiny elementsof contact,reactions to ti-i'st;muli of the
far. We will simply observe that two imPortant
mythicalimage of outside world:whatwe call"give-and take."
contributedto give it its Presentstructure:the
psych.oPom'ps' (c) To eliminatefrom the creativeprocessthe 1-e5!Jg-nces and obs-
soulin theformof a birdandthe ideaof birdsas
r97o:t56,
(E l i ade taclescausedbyone'sownorganism, bothphlsicalandpsychical (the
two forming a whole).
examples of this lr (Crotowski
r968a:rz8)
Aborigine "Dreamtime" songs and dances are
performing. A person, often in sleep but s:me,times
T*:i* w Using this method Grotowski composed "gesticularory ideograms"
p.ast
,r^.rrpor,.d to the original "timeless rnythical ,during
to place acrossthe desertpert< comparable ro the signs of medieval European ttt".i"i pit i"C-offii",
,or"*i. beings traveledfrom piace
beings are ni ballet, and other highly codified forms. But Grotowski's ideograms
ing creative acts" (Gould 19 69 : 10 5) ' Some of these
are-spettl b,ttlC:,1*: were "immediate and spontaneous . . . a living from possessing its ornm
spici", such as kangaroo and emu, some
Iogic" ( 19 6 8a: 142). This was becausehis actors were transparent: they
(the Water Snake)' "Alt1
Jutlars (the Two Men) and Wanampi were able to let impulses pass through them so that their gestures were
tlit
ttr"y liu.a in the past,the dreamtimebeingsarestill'1")* at one and the same time intimate and impersonai. Grotowski. his
people" (Gould 1'l
alive and exerting influence over present-day scenographers, and the performers of Dr Fcustus,
passed on down the generations' *nt1'. ,A.kropolis,
The Constcnt
106). Performances are Prince,and Apocclypsis
by "dreaming": a man participates cum Figuris (first yersion) achieved a rotai icono-
materiat is added it is learned graphy of body, voice,
he teaches his com gro.rp .o-poiiiion, and scenic architecture.
the mythical beings in their ceremonies, then tle totality was
performances are staged with ext: so complete that western audiences felt uncomfort-
*h"t h. has learned. Aborigine able:
body decorations' and the Oriental performances as tightly structured as noh or
care,
--^-t
especially
--r - |
regarding ,cenogt"phy, -even
&athakali
This care is not a matter oI allow open spaces for audience inattention. The productions
cudon of song and dance routines'
20 2 ro wen o A poETr c s oF pERFoRM ANc E TO W A R D A P O E TI C S O F P E R FO R MA T' TC T 203

In expanding our knowledge beyond drama to performing


specrarors.
to the whole performance process much will
,ia U.yotta performing
not only about arrmaking (for theatel, as Alexander AIIand
i-. t..r.r.a
to me, is the only art where the creative process is by
iointed out
but also about social life because theater is both inten-
l...rrity visibie)
non-consciously a paradigm of culture and culture-
iionriiy and
In this concluding section I will look briefly at a decisive
o rnaking.
.= aspecrof the
large problem: what rehearsal is. I think I will be able to
4 that the ritual octionof theotertokesplcceduringreheorsols.
essential
show
At the 1957 Macy Foundation Conference on Group ProcessesRay
Birdwhistell explained the following modei:

We have been running trajectories on dancing and other acts


describedas gracefulbehavior.

Figure5.6
Note
T h e e c s t a ticflig h t o fth e sh a m a n le a ve sth e b o dy empty and transparent:absol u
vulnerable.Cieslaktravels by means of subtractiontoward ecstasywhen he plays
Prince in The ConstantPrince.fhe trance dancers qf Blli are possessedor
over" by whomever or whatever possessesthem. Olivier travels by m-ean5of r
toward.pos-session;he systematicallyconverts the "as ii; 'of his Hamlet into
Note B and A are trajectoriesof an arm or leg or body.A is a smooth
" b e c o m in go f' Ha m le t.T h o sete ch n iq u e so f p erformertrai ni ng w hi ch begi n
curve;B isthezigzag line.The sizesof thesezigzagsare unimportant.
movement toward ecstasy - psychophysical exdidGFi yqga, etc. - help
It is the shaoeof the movementwith which I am concerned.A and B
p e r f o r m er"fo llo w im p u lse s,"th a t is, yie iT in d becometrdnspi rent. In thi s sti
expressthe same traiectory. However, ultimately trajectory A shows
p e r f o r m erm a y su d d e n ly"d r o p in to " h is r o le b e causethe vul nerabi l i tyofecstasy
b e s u d d en lytr a n sfo r m e din to th e to ta lityo ftr a nce possessi on. minimal variationor adiustmentwithin the scopeof the trajectory.In
A thereis a minimum of messagesbeing reactedto in process.This is
"grace."In B multiple messagesare being introducedinto the system
of the Polish Laboratory Theater were totally without "noise."
and there is the zigazg.The things we call gracefulare alwaysmulti-
ciarity ofsignal evoked anxiety as well as pleasure.
messageacts in which the secondarymessagesare minimized, and
No performing is "pure" ecstasyor trance.Alwaysthere is a therethe role of the whole is maximized.
dialecticaltensionbetweenthe two (figure 5.6).
( Bi r d w h i ste l il n
, L o r e n zr 9 5 9 :r o r - z)

Lorenz pointed out that:


R EHE A RS P
A ROCE
L DURE S
Every aspect of gathering,/performing/dispersing needs careful with the elimination of the noise in the movement, when the
ination both from the ooint of view of the oerformers and that of movement becomesgraceful,it becomes more unambiguousas a
20 4 ro wlno A poETr c s oF pERFoRM ANc E 205
To w AR D A Po Er l cS OF PER Fo R M Ar .r ce

sig nal.. . . The m or e Pr egnantand s im p l et h e m o v e m e n ti s , t h e Notre Dame in Paris has only one "finished"
;ifferently. For example,
by the recePtor.
it is for it to be takenup unambiguously "wrong" it would be to finish the "incomplete" struc-
,".*.r, U", how
thereis a strongselection Pressure of maki
workingin thedirection ,"r.. nr an ideal cathedral
the building lacks a tower; as Notre Dame it
all signal movements,these releasingmovements [lnnate only as it now stands. In all casesthe process of solidifica-
Mechanismsor learnedgestalts],more and more graceful,and that '"-.o,npt.,. and historical ratification is a process of rehearsal:
,,,rn, .o-pl.tion,
"acceptability"
alsowhat remindsus [in animal behavior]of a dance. i.* u *ork is reworked until it crosses a threshold of
"shown"
.?i., *t i.tt it canbe
r 959:
(Lorenz
The theater is unique in that all its works, even the most traditional,
Grace = simplification = increasing the signal efficiency of a move means of the rehearsal process. That is, all theatrical
are produced by
= a dance. *orks change over time as they are adjusted to immediate circum-
tectonically siow when a dogma
But some artworks, even performances, are notoriously stances.Sometimes these changes are
ambivalent, and "inefficient." Great masterpieces are not is fixed as, say, the Roman Catholic Mass is. But even the Mass has been
minimalist. The Romoyono, the Bible, the Odyssey,the plays of suddenly readfusted, most recently by Vatican Council II' And, on the
speare,the spectaclesof Robert Wilson, the paintings of Brueghel, local level, the Mass is always accommodating the given circumstances
sculptingsat Konarak,etc. - are these less "graceful" (that is, of its various celebrations. In the aesthetic genres such as modern Euro-
artistic) than the piays of Beckett, the paintings of Mondrian, or American theater delight is taken in reinterpreting the classics; but
poetry? Clearly a slngle, normative standard for "evaluating art" there are also unspoken limits - if a theater group goes beyond these
ishes various cultural, historical, or evolutionary perspectives. The it is not praised for being inventive but attacked for "violating" the
ficulty is soived by relocating the question of simplification (grace material. Such was the reaction of some critics and spectators to
from a comparison of finished works in their exhibition phase The Performance Group's productions of Dionysusin 59 (Euripides' The
works in the process of being made: the selection-of-what' Bccchoe)and Mckbeth (Shakespeare's Mccbeth). But even when doing
against-all-other-possibilities phase. It is not a matter of comparing a brand new play tensions arise between the author's intentions
work to other works, or to the world. Important and revealing as and what finally happens on the stage. This happened in TPG's pro-
comparisons are they yield nothing concerning the issue Birdwhi duction of Sam Shepard's The Toothof Crime (see chapter 3). Some-
raises. One must fold each work back in on itself comparing its times, as in the famous disputes between Anton Chekhov and
pleted state to the process of inventing it, to its own internal Stanislavsky,Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan, these tensions reach
cedures during that time when it was not yet ready for s a breaking point.
Although all arts have this phase, only performance requires it to But what exactly is the "rehearsai process"? At the Macy Conference
public, that is, acted out among the performers as rehearsal. Com W Gray Walter commented on Birdwhistell's model:
ing a work to its own process of creation applies not oniy to sin
authored works but to multi-authored works such as the H Cracemay be the result of efficiencyin a goal-directedmovement.In
epics, the Bible, medieval cathedrals, and all other proiects that ex the case of an artificialanimal or guided weapon, the early guided
beyond a single person's attention or life-span. In these cases weaponsand some modern ones, when they are searchingand are
process of making the work has an extra step, that of arriving at not goal-directed,have a trajectorywith a messy curve like B [zo3].
"finished form" that cannot be known with certainty beforehand. Theyperform a hunting movement,which looks quite random and is
certainlynot verygraceful.lt is jerkyand disjointed,incoherent,often a
solidification may take many generations and be ratified historically
seriesof cycloidloops.But the moment the goal or targetis perceived,
structures which, under different circumstances, may have turned
2 06 rown no A poETr c s oF pERFoRM ANc E r o w AR D A p o Er r cs o F p ER Fo R M AN ce2 0 7

the trajectory becomes a graceful parabola or hyperbola.So, used to rehearsalsfor weddings, funerals, and other religious
We are
the rehearsal is a way of selecting
appearanceofa goal will transforma graceless,and exploratory .-a .iuic ceremonies. In every case
of behavior (which may have a high information potential in it, possible actions those to be performed, of simplifying these,
fr", ,n.
the sense that it is looking in many directions)into one which rhem as clear as possible in regard both to the matrix from
,rUtng
only one bit of information,if the target is there, but looks have been taken and the audience with which they are
*t r.tr-rrr.y
and pretty. ,o communicate. Along with this primary task the secondary
,n.rn,
(Walter,in Lorenzt959: have each performer perform her/his part with
*ork of rehearsal is to
clarity. Farce is interesting in this regard because it turns
maximum
Earlyrehearsals,or workshops,are ierky and disjointed, often on its head. Charlie Chaplin staggering drunkenly
one kind of clarity
"messy" but with consummate skill - just as a
ent. The work is indeed a hunt, full of actions with "high i across the street is acting
The signal sent reads
potential," but very low goal-orientation. Even in working on clown performs a graceless pratfall gracefully'
,'qraceless"but this signal is sent clearly - i.e. gracefully. Audiences
material this kind of "looking around" marks early rehearsals:
try a variety of interpretations, designers bring in many sketches aimire the ease with which great farceurs play at being clumsy. The
models most of which are reiected, the director doesn't really samemay be said about dissimulation of al1kinds so popular in theater:
what s/he wants. And especially if the proiect is to develop its own lies,disguises,double plots, ironies. In every casethe performer's prob-
and actions the basic question of the early work is an anxiety- lem is to be clear about the lie, to be convincing in both aspects of the
"What are we doing?" If by a certain time, a target is not visible ( situation so that an audience can see around the action and perceive it
only a production date but a vision of what is to be produced), and its opposite, text and metatext, simultaneously.
project falters, then fails. A director may maintain confidence by Comparable to rehearsal, but not exactly identical to ii, is prepar-
i.ng order in the guise of set exercises; s/he may do this too soon ation. The Aborigines spend many hours preparing for a ten-minute
cut dolvn the chances ofdiscoverlng new actions. A balance is dance.They carefully lay out all the implements of the dance, they paint
Comparable processes occur in traditional societies. John Emigh their bodies, they prepare the dancing area. Before each performance
about a rehearsal of a ceremony in a village on the Sepik River, members of The Performance Group took two hours or more warming
New Guinea: up their voices, doing psychophysical exerci.ses,dance steps and yoga,
reviewing difficult bits from the show, etc. The Moscow Art Theater
As the rehearsalproceededan old man would stop the singing was famous for the preparation period each actor practiced immedi-
time to time to makesuggestionson styleor phrasingor,.iustas ately before going onto the stage. Every performer I know goes
just as much a part ofthe event being rehearsed,he would through a routlne before performing. These preparations literally
"compose" the person and the group: they are a kinesic recapitulation
on the meaningof the songwords,on the detailsof the story.
of the rehearsal process allowing for a settling into the special tasks at
rehearsalwas at once remarkablyinformal and absolutely
hand, a concentration that shrinks the world to the dimensions of the
middle-agedwoman with an extraordinarysearingvoiceseemedto
theater. These preparations are the ritual frame surrounding, setting
in controlof the singing.Shewould start and stop at whim,
off, and protectlng the time/space of the theater.
phr as es ,c hec k ing point s wit h t h e o l d m a n , p a u s i n g t o h e a r
Both rehearsal and preparation employ the same means: repetition,
exolanation.. . . As the rehearsalproceeded,men and women
stmplifrcation, exaggeration, rhythmic action, the transformation of
singersand drum beaters
drift by.The assembled
occasionally
natural sequences" of behavior into "composed sequences." These
witnessespracticed of the danceto accomPany
the movements
means comprise the ritual process as understood by ethologists. Thus
mother'slament.'7
20 8 rowe no A poEr r c s oF pERFoRM ANc E row A R D A P OE TIC S OF P E R FOR MA T.TC e209

stood in the street or looked from rooftops and windows of


it is ln rehearsals/preparations that I detect the fundamental ri street.Spectators
bui l di ngs surroundi ngth e narrow roadw ay s .P l ay i ngbegan at daw n and c on-
of theater.
ti nued throughout the day . There mus t hav e been muc h c omi ng and goi ng
I find noth-llg--disturbing about relating the 6nest achievements
amongthespectators.Th i s mi x i ngof the s oc i al ,the rel i gi ous and , the aes theti c
human art - indeed, the very process of making art: the ritual marks such contemP or aryperformanc esas the raml i l as of north Indi a (s ee
of rehearsal and preparation - to animal behavior because I S chechner r 985:t5t-zt3) .
no break between animal and human behavior' And especially in I use the w ord "natural "to mean the k i nd of1!ea1erthat happensi n ev ery day
I flnd homologies,. continuities, life.There is no need.l,o...-!!age or (re)createit. When an accident happens or a
realm of artistic-riffal-behavior
di spute i s pl ayedout i n publ i c , peopl e.w i l lw atc h. The medi a, i f al erted,w i l l
analogies. Activities thicken - get more complicated, dense,
repl aysuch "new sw orthy "ev ents . W hen s omethi ng s umptuous pas s es by ,
contradictory, and multivocal - along a continuum of expanding peopl eturn to w atch, w h ether i t be an oc ean l i ner s teami ngdow n ri v er or a
sciousness. The human achievement - shared by a few primates headofstate motorcadingup an av enue.
aquatic mammals but not elaborated by them - is the ability to Forextendeddi scussi onsof a number of proc es s i onalperformanc esi n di ffer-
ent cultures,see TDR, The Drama Reviewz9 (l) (rg8S),a special issue edited by
decisions based on virtual as well as actual alternatives. These
B arbaraK i rshenbl atfGimbl ettand B rook sMc N amara.
alternatives take on a life of their own. Theater is the art of B oxseatsdevel opedfrom earl i erprac ti c esw here V l P s s at ons tage.W hen thi s
them, and rehearsal is the means of developing their individual w as recogni zedas a di s rupti on the theater c oul d no l onger tol erate, box es
and rhythms. By turning possibilities into action, into per came i nto fashi on.l t i s i nteres ti nghow i n env i ronmentaltheaterthe pres enc e
whole worlds otherwise not lived are born. Theater doesn't arri ofeveryone,or anyone,o n s tage- or i n the s ame areaw herethe pl ay erspl ay-
i s a democrati zati on ofthe pres enc eon s tageofthe V l P s .
suddenly and stay fixed either in its cultural or individual
8 S eeal so E .T. K i rby('t972 :5-z ' t).
festations. It is insinuated along a web of associations spun from
9 B y "goi ng to the theate r" l mean s omethi ng more than the E uro-A meri c an
games, hunting, slaughter and distribution of meat, practi ce.I mean w hatev erarrangementsare made s o that a performanc ec an
centers, trials, rites of passage, and story-telling. Rehearsals occur:for exampl e,adheri ngto a ri tual c al endar;prepari nga s pec i alpl ac eor
maki ngan ordi narypl aces uc h as a mark et s quares pec i al ;rehears i ng;mak i ng
recollections - preplay and afterplay - converge in the theatrical
surethat the necessarys pec tatorsare l n attendanc e.
10 The ul ti matetheaterof v i ol enc e(al ongw i th doc umentarymov i es of w ar, tor-
ture,and mayhem)are p ornographi c"s n-ufffi l ms ."In thes e,s omeonei s hi red
NOTES to make a porn movi e b ut at the moment of c l i maxthe pers on i s k i l l ed.The
'I S ee M a r sh a ck( r 9 7 2 ) ,Cie d io n ( t9 6 2 - 4 ) , and La B arre (t972). camera records the sho c k and agony of the v i c ti m and the ac ti oni -of the
U cko a n d Ro se n fe ld( t9 6 7 zz9 ) su m m a ri zethought on the subj et:"The murderer(s).The fi l m i s then dx hi bi tedfor hi gh admi s s i onsat pri v ateparti es .
t i v e fr e q u e n cie so f a n im a ls,th e a b se n ceof representati ons of vegetati on,F S ometi mes,i t's sai d,the v i c ti m agreesfor a hands omepri c e to be k i l l ed.The
w ere i ntended compari sonof snuffporn to R oman gl adi atori algames i s obv i ous , as i s the
a l so th e e vid e n ce .. . wh ich sh o wsth a t many representati ons
decadence ofboth ki nds ofentei t-ai nment.
b e vie we d , su g g e st th a t ' th e a te r ' m a y w el l be behi nd some of the A s for the c atharti ceffec tofv i ew i ng
Alth o u g hth e r e a r e m a ny di sputesi n the fi el d ofcave art; vi ol entacti ons,studi esreportedby E i bl -E i bes fel dt (i g7o:329,33r-z ) i ndi c ate
r e p r e se n ta tio n s."
that the catharti ceffects ,i fany , are s hort-l i v _ed:"l n the l ong run, the pos s i bi l i ty
authorities believe that performances of some kind (rites, theater'
ofdi schargi ngaggressi v ei mpul s esc oni i i i utes a k i nd ofl rai ni ng for aggres -
m u sic) to o k p la cein th e ca ve s.T h e a n tiqui ty,one can al most saythe prl n
ston.The ani mal become smore aggres s i v e."
o f p e r fo r m a n ceis cle a r . F o r a n e xte n dedi nvesti gati onof these i deas'
ll D ramai s aboutthe chan gesthat happento the c harac tersTak
Pfeiffer(t982). . eany drama and
w ho, w here,an d w hat eac h c harac ter
3 S e e Er e ch t' s"T h e Str e e tSce n e "in Br e cht(r964: tzt-9) :ompare
i s Ii keat the end: the resu l tantmap of the c hanges
i s at the begi nni ngto w hat s /he
, e m e d ie va cycle
4 I n En g la n d th l p la yswe r e stagedon w agonsw hi ch moved i s a s ummaryof the drama' s
acti on.
s i te to site .T h e wa g o n swe r e u se d a s stages,backdrops,and dressi ng-rc l2 L6vi -S trauss's (r959b) semi naland c ompl i c atedw ork el aboratesthe ,,tw oc on-
The audience gathered around as the play moved from the wagons to
Irasts- nature/cul ture,raw /c ook ed"
s tr e e t,e m p lo yin gb o th th e r a ise dsp a ceofthe w agonsand the fl at space (p. 338).In terms oftheater,the ,,c ook ed
2 .l0 ro wnn o A PoETt c s oF PERFoRM ANc E

action"is not an imitationof problematic behavior'lt is nqwb-'elt-avi9t3l


related
aflyor r'netaphorically to its "raw" p.Iggltor' *i':t qH:iq:
*,{a, i.h!"arifl'J, socialization asilf,il;i "wotkon" individualsu
"i "".a
from one status to another' See Schechner(t 985:35-r
need to be transported
z6t- 94) .
t,tt-,:l
trancedancersare "smoked"by-i.nhaling
r3 Often 6alinese
not psychoactive'lt dq
incense.As far as I can determine, the smoke itself is
in h a lin g it is a deci si vemoment i n the process'
n o t "ca u se " th e tr a n ce ,b u t
trance- tor exa
a c h ie vin gtr a n ce .Wh e n o n ly p a r t o fth e b o dy i s to.go,i nto
t h e ha n d wh ich isto b e co m e th e b r o o m _ o n|ythatparti ssmoked.
too'
s m okin g is n o t co n fin e dto Ba li' I sa w it in S ri Lanka
shamanw ho i urnshi
1 4 E l i ad eJa yso f th e sh a m a n ' str a n sfo r m a tion:"l t i s the
by P utti ng on an
i n t o a n a n im a l ju st a s h e a ch ie ve sa simi l ar resul t
mas k "( t 97o: 93) . '
15 B e lo ( t9 5 o : zz3 ) :
del i ghtful 'fi ts i n
T h e fe e lin go f lo wn e ss,wh ich Da r m a descri bedas
th e wh o | e co n ste | | a tio n o fid e a sa b outbei ngmounted,bei ngsaton'
exP eri encei s
so fo r th , wh e r e inth e p le a su r a b leq ual i tyofthe trance
o f th e sel f-i mpul Thi
ses' s i s one aspectof
n e cte dwith th e su r r e n d e r in g
in the trance voca
trance state which seems to have reverberations
and the aspectw hi
in wh a te ve rco u n tr yth e se p h e n o m enaapP ear-
to grasp'
p e r h a p sth e h a r d e stfo r n o n - tr a n ce rs
over to a speci fi cOther:
T his "su r r e n d e r in go f th e se lf- im p u lse s"is a gi vi ng
In e cstasy,i t i s a pure gi vi ng up to nonenel
a nim a l,sp ir it, p e r so n ,g o d , e tc.
o ne n e ss o fb e in g , a s in Z e n m e d ita tio n '
the brevi tycha
r6 A l th o u g h I d o n ' i h a ve sp a ceto e xp o u n don.i t here'
reversals'offer inte
f".., .', well as its swift, violent action and surprising
of farce' Farce's universality also indicates
evidence for the antiquity
few havetragedyin
,",ior',V Everyculturehai farce,whileonly relatively
s e n seo fth e Cr e e kso r th e .la p a n e se '
of hi s col l eagues'
17 F r o m a le tte r Jo h n Em ig h d istr ib u te d to several
t9 7 4 ' F o r a further di scussi onof thi s
o b se r ve dth e r e h e a r sa lsin
r eh e a r sa l,se e Sch e ch n e r( t9 8 5 :5 z- 4 ) '