Spectator * Theatre Theory directory *
theomai = to observe (critically)
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prof. Anatoly Antohin Theatre UAF AK 99775 USA (907)474-7751
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SummaryAccording to Barthes, the cult of the author accompanies the historical development of the individual in capitalist society as being self-determined, capable of creative or original output, (he is made in God's image) and possessed of artistic ability. In pre-capitalist societies, on the other hand, there was no sense of the writer as an individual, as a gifted creative artist or genius. Writing was in the main a responsibility or duty that went with certain social positions, with being the shaman or the mediator for example. In this strictly hierarchical and fixed social system, individual genius had no part in determining who would write and what would be written. You belonged to a class that made you a writer of law, history, poetry and drama or you were a shepherd, farmer, soldier or thief.
This modern figure arises at the same time as western philosophy begins to place great value on the notion of man as an individual, as a ‘human person’ with rights and a will to act.
Questions82. Audience feels, they don't think...
NotesThe modern writer according to barthes is less an ‘Author’, nourishing, living, suffering, giving birth to the text as a scriptor. ...The scriptor exists only in the present as the one who performs the act of writing and cannot be said to exist prior to or after the act of inscription. The scriptor lives only in the moment of writing and may or may not share the same everyday identity with the author. Writing itself is a performance, it does not record or represent or depict.
You, spectator, is the owner of the show! You are the show!more Foucault is in TECH.
AUTHORSHIP78. Audience needs to be trained... The show turns them into authors!The semiotics of theatre is a new but accepted method. What about the POMO? Genealogy?According to Fortier, reader-response and reception theory ‘are concerned with how people other than the author or creator contribute meaning to a work of art.’
Performing Resurrection -- pre-existing life. Emotionality of space and time. Resurrection = recreation, re-CREATION.
How does Resurrection work?
The spectacle, sacred (not normal), special existence.
We go as far as bringing back the dead. "Fictional" idea: what is real? "What is truth?"
The reality of illusion (cinema). Spectatorship in dreams. "I" in dreams: a role or a situation? Virtual reality (fictional, not real "reality"?) Question of identification (is it "I" or something/anything else in place of myself?). What is there out of "me"? When anybody steps into a world of video game, this world isn't designed for him specifically, he brings himself into it. He is just reacting. (Notes in my Black Book on dreaming). He is trying to escape, to find his way, to survive; is it a nightmare?
Who is this "I"?
Politics (or production wasn't watched before) becomes "performance" = entertainment = spectacle.
Democracy and Self-erotism (Polls) and popular genres (news addiction) > pornography's social aspect and erotics of presidential elections. Details and CUs. Acts. SEXUALITY OF POLITICS (Male wedding dances). Public as a mate (changing gender).
Politics: war of words. Why not ideas anymore? Performance -- acting (triangle) = show.
Collective sexuality (Electronic Eros). Next (radical) stage of separation from the body (population instead of citizenry).
Erotism of space (sexual essence of the visual). Media (time) and public erotism (man & society: sexual dimensions). Radio v. TV. Address: to one, to many. Tube as male/female organ.
War prevention (F on punishment), substitutes the killing with electronic victories. Electronic emotions, performed patriotism (began with Soviet propaganda and Hitler).
Advertising as a double propaganda (reflected, self-negated).
How to control the individual? We call it entertainment. Fun labor, love pains. ENTERTAINMENT IS A POWER STRUCTURE. We don't see it (don't feel) as a labor, because it's OUR powers? Is it to balance the disciplines of social (real) life?
[from POV.nts file]
SHOW: THE END OF PROPERTY
"We can easily imagine a culture where discourse would circulate without any need for an author.... No longer the tiresome repetitions:
'Who is the real author?'
'What has he revealed of his most profound self in his language ?'" -Michel Foucault _What is an Author?_
POV is a property. Sight is a claim.
Communism of POMO have established the fact -- spectatorship is a role, function of authorship (Foucault, see Part Three), we are forced into seeing!
The more my audience sense their ownership, the stronger my performance.
From spectator's POV the size of the audience doesn't have much significance. He is not on stage. Spectator is a parasite author (we all are), he imagine his powers, he is a user who is not aware that he is being used.
I don't like spectators. I like actors. Never I wanted to one of them. Since they are such suckers for somebody's experience -- use them, play on them, with them. That made me into a spectator.
Do I keep "spectator" in mind, directing actors? Indirectly. I'm the spectator who crosses the line and I'm temporary on stage. I don't belong here, I have to leave. My ideas are the result of crossing the line, my dual existence in two spaces: the audience state and the stage. I'm the interplay of two. Actors couldn't fully leave the stage, their primary space of existence. They are not good spectator. They're consumed with identification on stage (roles, props, lines). They're too busy acting, to remember the public. They are afraid of the spectator (the judge). I connect them. I put extra limitations, which they accept because they come from the authority (public).
Spectator is the most REAl (the only one) thing in theatre. His presence is minimal, he lets us pretend. On another hand, he is the craziest of all, he behaves as if he is not there, he would sit for two hours still as if he was asleep and he pays for it!
Author is a material for a viewer.
Relations: because public (emotions) is being used as a material for drama. How does this transformation of authorship work? Non-linear? Parallel? Watching Shakespeare = using time to concur the time: what about five centuries between us, never mind the space? Am I talking about humankind, god?
Such extremes are the reason why everything in theatre begins and ends in spectatorship.
God as a spectator. Our messages for him.
How the text itself constructs its own receiver (implied reader).
Art is not a perception (after-concept), but a construction. We manipulate the meaning of the message (interpretation) much less than the text manipulate us. It's a meeting, an event (clash?), conflict. Text is formed, and it formats me; "I-after-text" = humanization of nature.
PART TWO: EXPERIENCING YOURSELF?
Theatre is stupid (see
). Theatre's stupidity couldn't be praised enough -- listen, why do we have to understand everything? Why do we have to know what we have? Experiencing (the ancient way of knowing things) is a fun labor of learning. Especially, the safe experience. Like one of a spectator.
All right, spectator writes, directs, acts. Spectator consumes (sees). Does a theatre spectator do too much or too little next to his film experience?
Does he want active participation? Inter-active theatre?
Where are the limits of spectatorship? What he doesn't do?
Is it time for him to be in the middle of action? Or this is too much of a game? Virtual reality and theatre reality: being in position of an observer only = before. Non-interference serves as dramatic tension mechanism -- I can't change the course of action! Fate.
He was in two places at once: on stage (through identification), and outside.
Ritual suggests that we can make him a real part of the action. This is Pre-theatre. Could the film's dichotomy of spectatorship be even more powerful in live theatre?
The dilemma: between the Ritual Idea and the Film. Technology is closing the gap from both ends = Virtual Reality. To go into full spectator's participation is to loser the text, improvisation only. To lose great deal of story? To answer the question about the position of spectator is to discover theatre of tomorrow.
To understand spectator is to understand man of tomorrow: maybe, his reality is over-theatricalized, over-ritualized already? Does he play too many social roles?
Where does he have direct contacts with live, real people outside of their functional roles?
Is he over-entertained? Overloaded even before he comes into theatrical situation of Theatre?
Who is he in theatre?
Today we build only performance centers, not theatres, not even opera houses. Why?
He got too many functions. Theatre is not selective, doesn't know its own limits, territory, methods. What do we PAY for? We can read, we can see it on the screen, tricks and special effects -- circus, rock-concert can do. Acting?
Great theatre actors are gone.
Should we look at him from the power POV? Strive for recognition. Where else a single individual is recognized in his powers?
Communal spiritual existence (replacing the church)? Experiencing yourself with others?...
Today's theatre problem is a spectator.
He is not in theatre. Was theatre always too elitist?
PART THREE: WITHOUT PIRANDELLO
Michel Foucault on the "Author Function" (From Foucault, Michel. "What is an Author?" Trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon. In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977. pp. 124-127.)
In dealing with the "author" as a function of discourse, we must consider the characteristics of a discourse that support this use and determine its differences from other discourses. If we limit our remarks only to those books or texts with authors, we can isolate four different features.
First, they are objects of appropriation(AA); the form of property they have become is of a particular type whose legal codification was accomplished some years ago. It is important to notice, as well, that its status as property is historically secondary to the penal code controlling its appropriation. Speeches and books were assigned real authors, other than mythical or important religious figures, only when the author became subject to punishment and to the extent that his discourse was considered transgressive. In our culture and undoubtably in others as well discourse was not originally a thing, a product, or a possession, but an action situated in a bipolar field of sacred and profane, lawful and unlawful, religious and blasphemous. It was a gesture charged with risks before it became a possession caught in a circuit of property values. But it was at the moment when a system of ownership and strict copyright rules were established (toward the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century) that the transgressive properties always intrinsic to the act of writing became the forceful imperative of literature. It is as if the author, at the moment he was accepted into the social order of property which governs our culture, was compensating for his new status by reviving the older bipolar field of discourse in a systematic practice of transgression and by restoring the danger of writing which, on another side, had been conferred the benefits of property.
Secondly, the "author-function" is not universal or constant in all discourse. Even within our civilization, the same types of texts have not always required authors; there was a time when those texts which we now call "literary" (stories, folk tales, epics and tragedies) were accepted, circulated and valorized without any questions about the identity of their author. Their anonymity was ignored because their real or supposed age was a sufficient guarantee of their authenticity.
Text, however, that we now call "scientific" (dealing with cosmology and the heavens, medicine or illness, the natural sciences or geography) were only considered truthful during the Middle Ages if the name of the author was indicated. Statements on the order of "Hippocrates said..." or "Pliny tells us that..." were not merely formulas for an argument based on authority; they marked a proven discourse. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a totally new conception was developed when scientific texts were accepted on their own merits and positioned within an anonymous and coherent conceptual system of established truths and methods of verification.
Authentication no longer required reference to the individual who had produced them; the role of the author disappeared as an index of truthfulness and, where it remained as an inventor's name, it was merely to denote a specific theorem or proposition, a strange effect, a property, a body, a group of elements, or a pathological syndrome.
At the same time, however, "literary" discourse was acceptable only if it carried an author's name; every text of poetry or fiction was obliged to state its author and the date, place, and circumstance of its writing. The meaning and value attributed to the text depended upon this information. If by accident or design a text was presented anonymously, every effort was made to locate its author. Literary anonymity was of interest only as a puzzle to be solved as, in our day, literary works are totally dominated by the sovereignty of the author. (Undoubtedly, these remarks are far too categorical. Criticism has been concerned for some time now with aspects of a text not fully dependent upon the notion of an individual creator; studies of genre or the analysis of recurring textual motifs and their variations from a norm rather than author. Furthermore, where in mathematics the author has become little more than a handy reference for a particular theorem or group of propositions, the reference to an author in biology or medicine, or to the date of his research has a substantially different bearing. This latter reference, more than simply indicating the source of information, attests to the "reliability" of the evidence, since it entails an appreciation of the techniques and experimental materials available at a given time and in a particular laboratory).
The third point concerning this "author-function" is that it is not formed spontaneously through the simple attribution of a discourse to an individual. It results from a complex operation whose purpose is to construct the rational entity we call an author. Undoubtedly, this construction is assigned a "realistic" dimension as we speak of an individual's "profundity" or "creative" power, his intentions or the original inspiration manifested in writing. Nevertheless, these aspect of an individual, which we designate as an author (or which comprise an individual as an author), are projections, in terms always more or less psychological, of our way of handling texts: in the comparisons we make, the traits we extract as pertinent, the continuities we assign, or the exclusions we practice. In addition, all these operations vary according to the period and the form of discourse concerned. A "philosopher" and a "poet" are not constructed in the same manner; and the author of an eighteenth-century novel was formed differently from the modern novelist.
Of course the work itself has huge effect on its reception. Anti-realist, episodic, absurdist, surrealistic works which include metaphoric language and imagery make the reader work harder than a piece of slice-of-life ‘talking-head’ or kitchen sink drama. Roland Barthes has distinguished between two types of texts that we might usefully apply to the theatre. These are the readerly and the writerly text. According to Barthes, the readerly text leads the reader along by limiting and imposing meaning. The writerly text is open to, and encourages, the reader rewriting and recreating the text in the joy of reader or as in the title of one of his own (writerly) books, as the reader takes pleasure in the text. The pleasure is in the creative response, the active reception, the play of possibility that is offered by the text or performance or musical piece that is open-ended, ambiguous or which actively involves the spectator.
Stanley Fish argues that there is no inherent meaning in a work of art ‘except those which ‘interpretive communities’ in any particular era foster or allow, while disallowing and discouraging others’ (Fortier, 88). In other words, meanings circulate within communities or even subcultures and these are attached to a number of texts.
In Fortier’s examples, the significance of Othello, the Moor, in Shakespeare’s play has changed over the historical distance between Elizabethan England and post-colonial Australia. The Merchant of Venice in which the character of Shylock is drawn from stock stereotypical representations of the Jew as a mean money-lender is now received as an instance of anti-semitism.
As a response to the changed historical situation new works radically appropriate the works of the past. Examples: German dramatist Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine radically resist Shakespeare’s tale of the brooding hero.....The Wooster Group’s L.S.D. ( . . . Just the High Points . . . ) is another. Anne Bogart’s South Pacific....
Susan Bennett in her book Theatre Audiences: A Theory of Production and Reception concludes that the audience in traditional theatre enters into a ‘social contract’ in which audience members agree to be passive in their behaviour but open, eager and active in their acceptance and decoding of the signs presented to them. She calls for the ‘emancipation of the spectator’ evident in non-traditional and often marginalised theatre practices which allow for a more active role for the audience’ (Cited in Fortier, 91). Brecht wrote that the traditional theatre expected audiences to hang their brains up with their coats in the cloakroom and enter the theatre braindead.
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