Between Theater and Anthropology
Publication Year: 1985
In performances by Euro-Americans, Afro-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians, Richard Schechner has examined carefully the details of performative behavior and has developed models of the performance process useful not only to persons in the arts but to anthropologists, play theorists, and others fascinated (but perhaps terrified) by the multichannel realities of the postmodern world.
Schechner argues that in failing to see the structure of the whole theatrical process, anthropologists in particular have neglected close analogies between performance behavior and ritual. The way performances are created—in training, workshops, and rehearsals—is the key paradigm for social process.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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List of Illustrations
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For an anthropologist (working in several cultures, "posttribal," "peasant," and "urban-industrial"), it was both theoretically illuminating and personally rewarding to meet Richard Schechner, whose life has been dedicated to organizing and understanding performances. My own field experience had forced me to pay special attention not only to institutionalized performances, ...
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A book like this is written by one person but the ideas expressed are nurtured by a group: colleagues, artists, friends, research assistants, students; deans, foundation officials, government workers. Many whose names I will never know: the people who keep the railroads running in India, telephone operators, helpful strangers. Some people belong to several categories. I want to ...
1. Points of Contact Between Anthropological and Theatrical Thought
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Whether practitioners and scholars of either discipline like it or not, there are points of contact between anthropology and theater; and there are likely to be more coming. These points of contact are at present selective—only a little of anthropology touches a little of theater. But quantity is not the only, or even the decisive, measure of conceptual fertility. This mixing will, I think, ...
2. Restoration of Behavior
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Restored behavior is living behavior treated as a film director treats a strip of film. These strips of behavior1 can be rearranged or reconstructed; they are independent of the causal systems (social, psychological, technological) that brought them into existence. They have a life of their own. The original "truth" or "source" of the behavior may be lost, ignored, or contradicted— ...
3. Performers and Spectators Transported and Transformed
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By using masks, costumes, and physical actions arranged in a set way or improvised according to known rules; by performing following a script, scenario, or set of rules; by performing in special places or places made special by performing in them; by performing on holidays or at times set aside "after work" or at crisis in the life cycle such as initiations, weddings, and funerals: ...
4. Ramlila of Ramnagar
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The subject of Ramlila (plates 33^8), especially the month-long Ramnagar Ramlila,1 is like the story of Krishna's mouth. I have seen the great Bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati perform this story. Krishna's mother fears that the little Krishna has put some dirt, or something dangerous, in his mouth. She asks him to open his mouth. He refuses. She asks again and again. Finally ...
5. Performer Training Interculturally
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At the Kathakali Kalamandalam in Kerala, southwest India, where, apparently, an old and traditional way of training is followed, the boys who will become Kathakali performers get up before dawn during the rainy season to begin eight hours of training embedded in a thirteen-hour day (plate 49). I never trained as a Kathakali performer, as some Americans have, but I ...
6. Playing with Genet's Balcony: Looking Back on a 1979/1980 Production
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The poison of the commercial theater has so soaked into our ways of thinking that even an experimental production is regarded as a success or a failure. The show either makes it at the box office, with critics, by word of mouth, or it is sent away defeated. "Forget about it," people say, "and go on to the next thing." This is a stupid way of advancing theatrical thought, for why can't a ...
7 News, Sex, and Performance Theory
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It's as hard to write about performance, theory or practice, as it is to put ideas, as such, onstage, for the writing is always indirect, representative, the map not the territory. And the stage always is there, physical first, a gaping territory only vaguely pointing elsewhere. But both writing and performing create negativity. Emily Dickinson: "Wonder is not precisely knowing, / And not ...
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Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 1985