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developments in theatre, in dance, in music. Art historians assume that the history of the visual arts represents the only history in the arts worth considering . The International Center for Advanced Studies in Art (ICASA) has been publishing a series of monographs and pamphlets, usually derived from lectures and symposia. The Art of Performance by Jorge Glusberg (the co-chairperson of ICASA) follows Performance: Live Art 1909 to the Present by RoseLee Goldberg (Abrams) and The Art of Performance edited by Gregory Battcock and Robert Nickas (Dutton). Glusberg's recitation of the history of performance accentuates a similar litany for those who have been reading about performance, e.g., Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara, Diaghilev and Satie. Notice little, if any, mention in all these critical works of, say, Isadora Duncan, Ellen Terry, George Bernard Shaw, Max Reinhardt, Adolf Appia; this oversight on Glusberg's part simply takes over from the similar oversights in Goldberg's work. (In the Battcock and Nickas anthology , Goldberg is selected as the historian, and her uninformed historical data have become the standard for Performance Art history.) This problem in Glusberg's text is compounded by another, more serious problem : Glusberg cannot assign a particular vocabulary to his critical enterprise . He will begin an argument in terms of a semiological vocabulary, assigning the impression of logic to his statements, then shift into expletives and hyperbolic terminology. Words such as "sublimest" and "magical and poetic" appear in sentences overweighted with "connotation" and "signification." The problem is that the argument for the particular originality of "Performance Art" as a cultural construct is never developed in consistent terms. Perhaps Glusberg would reply that this exemplifies the oneiric process of this art form. After shifting the argument in so many ways, if a point is made about performance as a specific art, that point is as elusive and as measureless as the sacred river of Kubla Khan's Xanadu. Daryl Chin Great Reckonings in Little Rooms: On the Phenomenology of Theater Bert 0. States University of California Press, 213 pp.; $21.50 (cloth) Stimulated by the profusion of new theatrical styles that emerged in the '60s and which continue to resonate today, the field of theatre theory has become an exciting enterprise. One after another, theoretical perspectives from Europe and the U.S.-structuralism, semiotics, reader-response theory-have inspired a fresh and more comprehensive view of dramatic art. Among these approaches, semiotics has appeared to provide the most subtle insight and instrument in the search for a critical language to embrace all forms of spectacle. Now Bert 0. States has contributed a view that seeks to complement the semiotic emphasis on referentiality as the basis for art. In brief, his is a phenomenological approach derived from the writings of Kenneth Burke, Roland Barthes, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, among others. Once we have 266 pursued the forest of signs that constitute a work, States would argue, it is time to put things back together in the performance moment, when we experience , in Merleau-Ponty's words, "the unmotivated upsurge in the world." For States, the essence of theatre art inheres in the "informational polyphony" of signs, which he takes to be the "dense context in which they interact and give life to each other." To preserve a wholeness in our theatrical experience, he examines theatre from complementary perspectives-The Stage (or Scene in the formal sense) and The Actor. His understanding of the actor in relation to the audience is based on the relations of speaker to listener, in which the actor employs three modes of address: the self-expressive, which has to do with virtuosity; the collaborative, in which the actor is seen as delegate or extension of the audience; and the representative, which is the domain of mimesis. "It is precisely our ability to integrate" these modes, he says, "or to arrest one or another of them in our perceptual attention that lends the unique depth and texture to the theatre experience." In his discussion of the stage-the Little Rooms of his title-he again pursues a triad: Shakespeare, the late-nineteenth century realists, and the postrealist avant-garde, exemplars of three essential forms of theatrical...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 266-267
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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