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Theories of Performance

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Rachel Hann

on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of Theories of Performance

Theories of Performance
PAR1071 (1st Year UG)
Dr. Rachel Hann
A Performance Theory Colour Wheel!
[...] the term 'scenography' has now become established not only as a description of the entire visual staging aspects of a production but also of its study as a discipline within Theatre & Performance Studies.

[Pickering 2005: 185]

Performativity is a term layed with multiple meanings. [...] it is a variation on theatricality: something which is "performative" is similar - in form, in intent, in effect - to a theatrical performance.

[Bial 2004: 175]
Gender is not passively scripted on the body, and neither is it determined by nature, language, the symbolic, or the overwhelming history of patriarchy.

[Bulter 1988 in Bial 2004: 197]
Gender is what is put on, invariably, under constraint, daily and linguistic given, power is relinquished to expand the cultural field bodily through subversive performances of various kinds.

[Bulter 1988 in Bial 2004: 197]
Scenography is not simply concerned with creating and presenting images to an audience; it is concerned with audience reception and engagement. It is a sensory as well as an intellectual experience, emotional as well as rational.

[McKinney and Butterworth 2009: 4]
Scenography is the seamless synthesis of space, text, research, art, actors, directors and spectators that contributes to an original creation.

[Howard 2001: 130]
Hotel Pro Forma
Stems from the literary tradition of script analysis

The study of structure within performance

In recent years, the term has been employed to describe non-text based performance strategies: or Visual Dramaturgy
Visual dramaturgy here does not mean an exclusively visually organized dramaturgy but rather one that is not subordinated to the text and can therefore freely develop its own logic.

[Lehmann 2006: 93]
Postdramatic Theatre
The adjective 'postdramatic' denotes a theatre that feels bound to operate beyond drama, at a time 'after' the authority of the dramatic paradigm in theatre.

[Lehmann 2006: 27]
Performance [is] all activity of an individual which occurs during a period marked by his continuous presence before a particular set of observers and which has some influences on the observers.

[Goffman 1959 in Carlson 1996: 37]
Erving Goffman
[Goffman's] overall emphasis [...] is rather more toward the audience - how social performance is recognized by society and how it functions within society.

[Carlson 1996: 38]
Peter Brook
I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.

[Brook 1968: 1]
Richard Schechner
In business, sports, and sex, "to perform" is to do something up to a standard - to succeed, to excel. In the arts, "to perform" is to put on a show, a play, a dance, a concert. In everyday life, "to perform" is to show off, to go to extremes, to underline an action for those who are watching. In the twenty-first century, people as never before live by means of performance.

[Schechner 2006: 28]
Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language […]

[Williams 1976: 87]
Culture is ordinary: that is the first fact. Every human society has its own shape, its own purposes, its own meanings. […]

[Williams 1958: 5-6]
Raymond Williams
Notions of High / Low Culture (to be cultured)
or as Williams puts it: ‘a general process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development’ [Williams 1976: 90]
For Raymond Williams Culture is ...
Why do you think Williams repeats this phase?
Possible definitions of culture therefore include:
Meanings and values aligned with a particular social group (language and cultures of familiarity)
or as Williams puts it: ‘a particular way of life, whether of a people, a period, a group or humanity in general’ [Williams 1976: 90]
Artistic Practice
or as Williams puts it: ‘the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity’ [Williams 1976: 90]
The making of a society is the finding of common meanings and directions, and its growth is an active debate and amendment under the pressures of experience, contact, and discovery, writing themselves into the land. […]

Culture is ordinary, in every society and in every mind.

[Williams 1958: 5-6]
Culture is ...
Culture is ...
Bakhtin, M. (1984) Rabelais and his world, Indiana: Indiana University Press

Bial, H. (2004) The Performance Studies Reader, London: Routledge

Coult, T. and Kershaw, B. (1983) Engineers of the Imagination: The Welfare State Handbook, London: Methuen Drama

Howard, P. (2002) What is Scenography, London: Routledge

Lehmann, H-T. trans. Jürs-Munby, K. (2006) Postdramatic Theatre, London: Routldge

McKinney, J. and Butterworth, P. (2009) The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Pavis, P. (1985) ‘Theatre Analysis: Some Questions and a Questionnaire’ New Theatre Quarterly 1.2: 208-212

Schechner, R. (2006) Performance Studies: An introduction, London: Routledge [Second Edition]

Turner, C. and Behrndt, S. K. (2008) Dramaturgy and Performance, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Turner, V (1988) The Anthropology of Performance, New York: PAJ Publications

Williams, R. (1958) Culture is Ordinary, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Williams, R. (1976) Keywords – A vocabulary of culture and society, Oxford: Oxford University Press
To entertain
To make something that is beautiful
To mark or change identity
To make or foster community
To heal
To teach, persuade, or convince
To deal with the sacred and/or the demonic

Seven Functions of Performance
[Schechner 2006: 46]
What is Beauty? Is this an appropriate terminology?
What is community? What types of performance do communities part take in?
Founded by John Fox and Sue Gill in 1968. Dissolved in 2006.

Their performances commonly involved carnival, procession, large puppets and music that responded to folk traditions

Created Rituals or Cultural Activities for northern communities, such as a seven year residency at Barrow-in-furness (1983-1990)
Welfare State International
Richard Schechner :
Mikhail Bakhtin : 'Carnivalesque'
Linked with the notion of carnival or social release;

Commonly aligned with the disruption or omittance of conventional social rules or codes of conduct;

Sometimes sponsored, at least in part, by state institutions such as the Church as a means of ‘controlling’ community unrest.
Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial

[Turner 1969 in Bial 2004: 89]
Examples of Liminod Spaces
(or places that represent an inbetween space or a space outside of the conventions of everyday life)

Examples of Liminal Activities
Rites of Passage
We are presented, in such rites, with a "moment in and out of time," and in and out of secular social structure, which reveals, however fleetingly, some recognition (in symbol if not always in language) of a generalized social bond that has ceased to be [...]

[Turner 1969 in Bial 2004: 90]
Judith Butler
An Introduction to:
This is a first year undergraduate (UG) lecture for students across several degree programmes within a Performing Arts department at a UK university. The basic intention is to introduce key terminologies that inform the field of Performance Studies that the students may, or may not, have encountered previously. The lecture is designed to run for 50mins and is supported with an accompanying seminar session.
The 'dramaturgy' of a play or performance could also be described as its 'composition', 'structure' or 'fabric'.

(Turner and Behrndt 2008: 3)
Indeed, it is impossible for a play to be entirely without a dramaturgy, any more than it can be without structure or compositional stratergy.

(Turner and Behrndt 2008: 4)
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