Word: PLAY

Of the numerous definitions of the world "Play" in the Oxford English Dictionary, the ones that seem most appropriate for a discussion of Schechner's use of the word are as follows: engage in activities for enjoyment rather than for a serious or practical purpose; light and constantly changing movement. The former definition, we might expect, but the latter speaks, in intersting ways, to the theme of Scechner's essay, to his understanding of theatre/art as in a transitory state (echoing adorno), to the limenality between art and reality.

The mode by which Schechner understands the term 'play' is that it requires a "metacommunication" between participants, which is to say that 'play' must be engaged in, to some degree, self-consciously, with the awareness that it is 'play.' When the OED says that "play" is done for enjoyment rather than for serious purposes, it breaches the notion presented by Scechner that the participants of typical, 'not for real' theatre might engage in this type of play, but that we must come to a new understanding of 'play' as it exists in theatre that is still theatre (like Belle's) but is also completely not only realistic, but 'real.' Participants in this type of play are actually being hurt, but within the context of 'play'. "Belle's players, spectators, and spectator participants are playing, but they are not playing. Their play takes on an intensity, a concentration, a seriousness that we do not often see in "real" theatre." So Schechner's play must not merely mean that a lack of 'seriousness' is present, in fact that seriousness can be very apparent without declassifying an action as part of "play" but it must be presented within the "play-frame" with an agreement between particpants, and spectators alike, that the 'play' is acknowledged as such. Brechtian notions, like Schechner's idea of 'play.' involve the subjectivity of audience members in relation to the play they are watching.

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