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  • The Deep Order Called Turbulence: The Three Faces of Dramaturgy
  • Eugenio Barba (bio)
    Translated by Judy Barba

There exists an invisible revolt, apparently painless yet infusing every hour of work, and this is what nourishes “technique.”

Artistic discipline is a way of refusal. Technique in theatre and the attitude that it presupposes is a continual exercise in revolt, above all against oneself, against one’s own ideas, one’s own resolutions and plans, against the comforting assurance of one’s own intelligence, knowledge, and sensibility.

It is the practice of a voluntary and lucid disorientation in the search for new points of orientation.

Apart from nourishing the work, revolt is also nourished by it. I do theatre because I want to preserve my freedom to refuse certain rules and values of the world around me. But the opposite is also true: I am forced or encouraged to refuse them because I do theatre.

Storm and Meticulousness

The choice to do theatre is often a difficult answer to a difficult situation. It is a way to live a freedom that is only free if the results of our own work succeed in influencing other people and winning them over to our side. It is a way of inventing our own identity, which is revealed to us through work that is both meticulous and stormy.

Some people believe that storm and meticulousness belong in two separate worlds; that technical problems, professionalism, and the craftsman’s precision have nothing to do with turbulence and with the impulse towards freedom, destruction, revolt, and refusal.

This is not true.

Extracting the Difficult from the Difficult

Extracting the difficult from the difficult is the attitude that defines artistic practice. On this depend the incisiveness, the complexity, the dense quality of [End Page 56]


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1. Technique in theatre and the attitude it presupposes is a continual exercise in revolt, above all against oneself, against one’s own ideas, one’s own resolutions and plans, against the comforting assurance of one’s own intelligence, knowledge, and sensibility. Above, Roberta Carreri performs in Mythos (1998), directed by Eugenio Barba.

[End Page 57]

the result, as well as the moments of difficulty, suffering and illumination, disorientation and reorientation that make up the process.

This attitude illustrates the difference between the organic character of art and the organization of daily tasks which are all the better for having the easy extracted from the difficult.

Scylla and Charybdis

Order and disorder are not two opposing options, but two poles that coexist and reinforce one another reciprocally. The quality of the tension created between them is an indication of the fertility of the creative process.

When we attempt to describe this tension, however, the discussion becomes hesitant. The more our explanations stick to what we have experienced in the work, the more they appear fantastic and exotic to the listener. And in trying to transmit experience, there is a risk of misunderstanding.

The easiest way of escaping these problems is through silence. Otherwise we have to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis.

On the one hand there is Scylla, representing the risk of straightening out the route, thus transforming the intricacy of the many paths into one direct line running in the right direction. Everything then becomes clear, even though it does not correspond to our experience. Within the reality of work, creativity is like a stormy sky. It is perceived as disorientation, doubt, frustration, discomfort.

To be master of one’s craft signifies above all knowing how to prepare for the storm that will threaten us, and how to resist without resorting to easy or familiar solutions.

“Storm” also means that problems do not present themselves one after another—as when we talk about them—but all or many simultaneously. When the sea and the waves are merely images of the route, every step becomes comprehensible. Everything turns out to be true, yet so abstract that it makes a mockery of experience.

On the other hand, there is Charybdis, with the risk of speaking only of storms and forgetting about the geometry of the compass and the sextant, which make the route possible. It is the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1531-4715
Print ISSN
1054-2043
Pages
pp. 56-66
Launched on MUSE
2000-11-01
Open Access
No
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