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Politics of Performance

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Debbie Newton

on 18 July 2018

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Transcript of Politics of Performance

Politics of Performance
Subconscious Decoding
Conscious Decoding
Decoding Questions
Individual, social or cultural

Not seen as a construction

Obvious or common sense
Louis Althusser

A person desires, choices, intentions, preferences, judgement etc. are the products of social practices.

Ideology doesn’t exist in an abstract realm of ideas but it is reproduced in familiar.
Ideological States Apparatus (ISA)
Moved against ideology and the subconscious by revealing the mechanisms of theatre.

By revealing the mechanics by which performance manufacture its view of the world, epic theatre seeks to 'alienate' the audience.

Brecht’s Epic Theatre moving away from ideology in that it doesn’t want these ideas and beliefs to be subconscious and accepted as common sense, but there is still a definite political position to the meaning.

Brecht sought to alter not only theatre's representation of reality but also the politics of the auditorium, encouraging the spectator in an active interrogative attitude to what is presented.
The Bystander Witness Report
Brecht likened Epic Theatre to the report of a bystander after a car accident.

No emotional connection as this would override the social impact of the demonstration
Making the audience aware of the theatricality

Alienation techniques

The distancing effect is a technique used in performance that prevents the audience from losing itself completely in the narrative, instead making it a conscious critical observer.

The performer accomplishes this by directly addressing the audience, barring them from feeling empathy, interrupting the narrative, or drawing attention to the theatrical process - this is one of the concepts of contemporary performance.
If an audience is aware of the encoding of political messages they can criticise constructively
More to do with raising questions than providing answers

Jean - Francis Lyotard

'Realism both perpetuates the dominant construct of the real and confirms the viewers identity as one who sees and understands reality in that way'
Shattering the construct reality
How we read it
Dependent on signs, frames and horizon of expectation.
To understand the three main ways in which political messages are encoded in performance.
To explore the differences between the three categories of political performance.
•Begin to articulate the reasons behind our critical thinking.

Political Parties
Conservative - Centre/Right Wing

Labour - Centre/Left Wing

Conservative - Centre

UKIP- Right Wing

Green Party - Left Wing

Using sign systems either explicitly or symbolically

By exploring the levels of which a performance influences interpretation we can begin to make arguments about their political agenda and understand what it is they are trying to say.

What are the two key things to remember when talking about a performance being political?

Politics with a capital P and a lower case p

Capital P - any governing system

Small P and it is with intent

the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system.

- is a political outlook or specific position that involves acceptance or support of a balance of a degree of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy, while opposing political changes which would result in a significant shift of society either strongly to the left or the right.

the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system.
Political Definitions
(1918 - 1990)
He was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy.
MARXISM - philosophy as "class struggle in theory".
It analyze and critique the development of capitalism and the role of class struggles in systemic economic change. originates from the works of 19th century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Althusser first wrote about Ideology in 1970
is a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
Althusser developed the notion of an Ideological Status Apparatus.
A certain number of realities which present themselves to the immediate observer in the form of distinct institutions.

Ideology is a 'representation' of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.

Performances don’t always “speak” its ideology on the surface, consequently the critic needs to “read” ideology in the sign systems, texts and omissions.
In small groups compare two newspaper articles, taken from different styles of publication but dealing with the same news item.

Contrast their styles, emphases and methods of representation, the ‘spin’ they give to the material, to find the different political social or moral positions at the root of their treatments.

Do they view the events negatively or positive?
What are the underlying values?
What view of the world are they asking you to take?

Professionally as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet.

Developed the concept of Epic Theatre.
Epic Theatre
Pick a contemporary performance that we have seen.

How did it make you aware?

Are there any Epic techniques used within is piece?

And can you link this to a social, cultural or political message?

Jean-François Lyotard was a French philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist.

He developed the concept of the post-modern avant-garde.
(1924 - 1998)
He said that by watching something presented as ‘real’ it will then become our interpretation of that fact. Our experience of things outside our reality i.e. that which we have never actually experienced are shaped by the performances version of reality.
Therefore if you agree with the reality you are watching, your self-awareness encompasses those ideals of behaviour
He had a bit of an issue with realism and naturalism.
Lyotard used a new form of performance to ask questions of the world, to accept the limitations and not accept things as common sense, by going against the conventions that had previously been established.
In small groups you must create a new postmodern performance that shatters the constructed reality of theatre and raises questions about a social, cultural or political issue.
What is the narrative?
How will it be presented?
What style of music is it?
What is it called?

They must then present their new play to the rest of the group.
Ask questions in the style of the viva voce – why did you decide to do that? Ensure they understand why it is not ideological or epic.
Full transcript