Theatre A Multimedia Art Form Routine, Conflict, Status Games Drama basis: our human instinct to play, to imitate There seem to be two causes that give rise to poetry in general, and they are both natural. The impulse to imitate is inherent in man from his
childhood; he is distinguished among the animals by being the most imitative of them, and he takes the first steps of his education by imitating. Every one's enjoyment of imitation is also inborn. What happens with works of art demonstrates this. Aristotle, Poetics, Ch IV. (c. 335 BC) transl. L.J. Potts (Cambridge 1959) imitation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvYBG72zT8E DRAMA IS NOT PRIMARILY A LITERARY ART FORM MEDIUM: the theatre immediacy of action group effort for a group audience multimedia form of presentation succession and simultaneity: sequentiality &
juxtaposition multimedia performances: circus, opera DRAMA IS NOT PRIMARILY A LITERARY ART FORM Improvisation (impro or improv) Keith Johnstone The Royal Court Theatre 1956 Calgary, Alberta, Canada
http://www.keithjohnstone.com/ Those who say Yes are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say No are rewarded by the safety they attain. Johnstone on improvisation We made a mistake. Thats good. We just learned something.
You may never know what the other person wants. Youll be an expert at saying yesbut youll never know what inspires your partner. Can you please or inspire your partner? Johnstone on improvisation In life, most of us are highly skilled at suppressing action. All the improvisation teacher has to do is to reverse this skill and he
creates very gifted improvisers. Bad improvisers block action, often with a high degree of skill. Good improvisers develop action. Keith Johnstone New York: Routledge,
1981 New York: Routledge, 1999 A brief history of the theatre (two different
editions, both In Hungarian) by Katalin Honti Budapest: Corvina, 1978 Budapest:
Corvina, 2007 Keith Johnstone, Impro The improviser has to realize that the more obvious he is, the more original he appears. I constantly point out how much the audience like someone who is direct, and how they always laugh with pleasure at a really
obvious idea. Ordinary people asked to improvise will search for some original idea because they want to be thought clever. Keith Johnstone, Impro cont. Whats for supper? a bad improviser will desperately try to think up something original. Whatever he says hell be too slow. Hell finally drag up some idea like fried mermaid.
If hed just said fish the audience would have been delighted. No two people are exactly alike, and the more obvious an improviser is, the more himself he appears. Keith Johnstone, Impro cont. An artist who is inspired is being obvious. Hes not making any decisions; hes not weighing one idea against another. Hes accepting his
first thoughts. Keith Johnstone, Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre 1979, 1981 (See also: Impro for Storytellers, 1994, 1999) DRAMA IS NOT PRIMARILY A LITERARY ART FORM Shakespeare in translation a good production even if you do not speak
the language Shakespeare in contemporary English film adaptations Drama and theatre Greek 'theory': of viewing, not doing from Gk theoreo 'behold' THEATRE: another mode of contemplation from Gk theaomai 'behold'
the feeling of belonging to society - people with similar problems, conventions, belief, behaviour Theatre presentation of conflicts in extremis & problem solving patterns identification, catharsis (Gk 'purgation') social healing function 'Tragedy through pity and fear effects a
purgation of such emotions (Aristotle, Poetics, Ch VI) identification - deception - dramatic surprise: repeatable because of the richness of context Levels of awareness in the dramatic figures and the audience 'willing suspension of disbelief ' (Samuel
Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817), Chapter XIV) stories are often familiar (Greek drama, new productions, seeing something again) 'alienation effect' (A-effect, Verfremdungseffekt, Bertolt Brecht) dramatic irony: when the internal and external communication systems interfere with each other (e.g., superior awareness of audience)
Levels of awareness in the dramatic figures and the audience 'willing suspension of disbelief ' (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817), Chapter XIV) stories are often familiar (Greek drama, new productions, seeing something again)
'alienation effect' (A-effect, Verfremdungseffekt, Bertolt Brecht) dramatic irony: when the internal and external communication systems interfere with each other (e.g., superior awareness of audience) Aspects of a play: Plot imitation of life, of action + probability, credibility events are not dramatic in themselves
presenting the story: succession, concentration, segmentation, composition story- purely chronologically arranged succession of events & occurrences plot - already contains important structural elements, e.g., the presentation of time: order of scenes vs order of events in story fictional time vs actual performance time
Aspects of a play (continued) action - the intentionally chosen transition from one situation to the next event - condition for story are met, but not for action - no intention to change the situation character - types and individuals dialogue - dramatic speech situations Astonishment and suspense
stories as routine: kissing the frog, killing dragon *break the routine just established: Little Red Riding Hood (breaking routine on large scale: Shrek, Hoodwinked) *keep action onstage: messenger in Greek drama: the effect unity of plot, time and place (traced to Aristotle) 3 unities of action, time & place (French Neoclassical critics)
Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra ( Dr Johnson, 1765) Astonishment and suspense cont. *revolve around conflict otherwise you cancel story e.g., Hamlet's quest for truth and revenge must remain central NOTA BENE: Hitchcock: secret of suspense lay not in what is withheld from an audience but in what the audience thought it knew
Conflict opposition between a character and some other force - protagonist and antagonist (Othello-Iago) - protagonist and society (Moliere's Misanthrope) - protagonists and external forces, e.g., Fate in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex - opposition of forces within character (inner conflict) - opposition of ideas, values, ways of life, as objectified
in the conflicts Status sg characters DO: the status PLAYED vs social status difference in the status you play and you think you play (e.g., modesty as arrogance) see-saw principle: kings and their fools: raising your status = lowering the other person's status e.g.: CUSTOMER: 'Ere, there's a cockroach in the
loo! BARMAID: Well you'll have to wait till he's finished, won't you? Status in comedy and tragedy COMEDY: when character is losing status, if we do not have sympathy with him/her TRAGEDY: see-saw principle: the ousting of a high-status animal from the pack
(persons to be executed: make a 'good end', i.e., play high status) Tragedy and comedy ideas about genre often made to conform with social ideas: tragedy: concerned with kings & princes seen as fit entertainment for kings & princes (who are capable of suffering it in life, who
have further to fall than other man, which will affect many others) => significant tragic action comedy: even the harshest misfortunes of commoners Roots of drama preservation of pagan rites, prehistoric vegetation rituals England: sword dances, mummers' plays
(Christmastide) Greek tragedy: from rites associated with death comedy: from celebration of fertility Playing tragedy special high-status style in English for playing tragedy: no fast movements, no fidgeting, nothing
trivial or repetitive; vs 'normal consciousness' (tensing muscles, shifting position, scratching, sighing, yawning see audiences when 'the spell is broken') Status games SPACE - status is territorial: man on a bench beach scenes - view master-servant scenes: place belongs to master PLAY - displays and reverses the status between
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