This phrase from Schechner emphasizes the liberation he speaks about regarding theatrical performance. That is to say, because of the diverse persons involved on, around, behind, and viewing the stage, there are diverse interpretations for the best interactive performance.
An account of Levi-Strauss' binary from a course webpage on Boccaccio (of all things)
In anthropological terms the concept of "the raw" verses "the cooked" has long been associated with the dichotomy between the natural world and the world of human culture. In a broad-based empirical study of native mythologies, Claude Lévi-Strauss proposes a structural and thematic link between the opposition of the raw and the cooked in mythological thought and man's attempt to establish a balanced relationship between natural and cultural forces.
Lévi-Strauss postulates that the raw/cooked axis is characteristic of all human culture, with elements falling along the "raw" side of the axis being those of "natural" origin, and those on the "cooked" side being of "cultural" origin - i.e. products of human creation. Symbolically, cooking marks the transition from nature to culture, by means of which the human state can be defined in accordance with all its attributes. In mythological thought, the cooking of food is, in effect, a form of mediation between nature and society, between life and death, and between heaven and earth. The cook, in turn, can be viewed as a cultural agent whose function is to "mediate the conjunction of the raw product and the human consumer," the operation of which has the effect of "making sure the natural is at once cooked and socialized."
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This leads Schechner to the discussion of what is "raw" experience and what is "cooked." I've often wondered the same thing. Since I was a little girl, I would watch my mother scream at me and then answer the ringing phone in a cool, calm manner, and wonder what could possess her to do that. I was never able to fake my feelings, emotions, thoughts or manner in order to fit the accepted social mold like some that I knew. And even today I question how much of what people say and do is just a performance.
I also enjoy how the quote talks about "events in ordinary lie that can be interpreted as theater", this idea that after being involved with the theater to some degree, that it will make a lasting impact on you enough that you will be able to draw comparisons is great. How many times have you called someone a "drama queen" or caught someone giving you and "act"? These terms show us how we recognize experiences in our daily life where we are interpreting "ordinary life" to being "theater".
"An instance of performing a play, piece of music, etc., in front of an audience; an occasion on which such a work is presented; a public appearance by a performing artist or artists of any kind. Also: an individual performer's or group's rendering or interpretation of a work, part, role, etc. In extended use: a pretence, a sham" (OED online).
While this definition is undestandable, it does not answer the question proposed by Schechner and it even goes against Schechner's conception of the performance in many ways. Schechner answers his own question about the relationship between art and life. He gives the example of Geertz's account of the cockfights in Bali and shows how art and performance is present in everyday life; therefore, "there is theater in theater; theater in ordinary life; events in ordinary life that can be interpreted as theater; events from ordinary life that can be brought into theater where they exist both as theater and as situations of ordinary life" (311).
The focus of Brecht's reading is that he views art, or at least the modern opera as a process of innovation. Innovations are made to a given artistic medium over time and help the medium stay fresh and modern for the given audience. Brecht uses a street model to demonstrate the way a modern epic theater operates. He explains how the actor must not try to present an illusionary gateway into an alternate reality, but instead must simply say their lines and imitate their character. This can be done with attitude and opinion however. In Rob Marshall's 2002 film Chicago the story is presented in a meta-theater format in that a oerformance is being presented inside a performance to tell the story. Songs are used to highlight key narrative ideas and one of the ideas is that of presenting information to spectators. This is done with the model of the epic theater in mind.
2. In modern use, An edifice specially adapted to dramatic representations; a playhouse.
6.Something represented as a theatre (in sense 1 or 2) in relation to a course of action performed or a spectacle displayed; esp. a place or region where some thing or action is presented to public view (literally or metaphorically).
These two are interesting because they bring up two things crucial when talking about Schechner's writing. He discusses people thinking of things that would be normally upsetting as funny or okay to watch. The reason people can do that is because they understand there is an element of "play" going on. As long as the upsetting or disturbing things happen in a frame where everyone knows that the framework of the action is play, then people can enjoy them without feeling bad. Another essential element to the chapter is that theater can be found almost anywhere. Even news can be a form of theater because of how the information is presented by the newscasters and even what order the information is presented is staged by someone, whether the someone is the editor or the ratings.
heroes and villains, but these are not seen as agents of larger social forces even of "destiny" as such. Then there are the stars of the political sports entertainment worlds.” This is related to his mirror with life on one side and art on the other. The two bleed into each other, and some art is just like real life, while some events in real life can be looked at as art/theater. This goes back to an earlier quote: “The people at Belle's—players, spectators, and spectator-participant—are playing and they are not playing” (300).
|1.the act or process of falling into an inferior condition or state; deterioration; decay: Some historians hold that the fall of Rome can be attributed to internal decadence.|
|2.||moral degeneration or decay; turpitude.|
|3.||unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.|
Schecner uses decadence after he has described Belle Du Jour. Some people may see a theater like hers as one that is dirty or demoralizing but that is just a conservative view of someone who is unwilling to learn about different cultures. The people that go there are not immoral but just have a different idea of what constitutes entertainment and pleasure. Also, trying to stereotype something like Belle's theater into a certain category would only limit how people see it and would probably cast a negative light on what she does.
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.
1. a musical, dramatic, or other entertainment presented before an audience.
2. the act of performing a ceremony, play, piece of music, etc.
3. the execution or accomplishment of work, acts, feats, etc.
4. a particular action, deed, or proceeding.
5. an action or proceeding of an unusual or spectacular kind: His temper tantrum was quite a performance.
6. the act of performing.
7. the manner in which or the efficiency with which something reacts or fulfills its intended purpose.
Performance is such an important word in Schechner's article. How much of life is real and how much is actually a performance? Do we take part in a performance unknowingly? Schechner details the idea of how most of what we see or do could be considered as a performance.
Schechner uses this term, and its various inflections, throughout his essay. Liminality is an important concept to understand, as Schechner sees it as present in various forms of theater, in anthropology, and in television news.
(focus on 2:00-2:54)
"theatre will stop pretending not to be theatre"
“use of choruses”
"the direct adressing of the audience by its actors"
Epic theatre is defined by its “clear description and reporting and its use of choruses and projections as a means of commentary” (Brecht, 121). The epic theatre should be “natural” and “primitive” but at the same time “may appear richer, more intricate and complex in every particular”. In other words, theatre can be as totally complex as desired by the actors, so long as it retains the “main elements of the street-corner demonstration.” Without these elements theatre could not “any longer be termed epic theatre.”
The claim is made that this concept exhibits a “novelty, unfamiliarity and direct challenge to the critical faculties.”
Brecht says that “the street demostrator’s performance is essentially repetitive” which brings us to question whether “the factor of the repetition of the same thing will perhaps not be acknowledged by everyone as a source of the sense of the uncanny" (Freud, The Uncanny).
Brecht has some very interesting thoughts on the position and function of theater and opera in the world of art. The main driving force in this piece is that of the apparatus in that opera is the apparatus through which art is created. Brecht says, “the apparatus goes on fulfilling its function with or without them [avant-garde]” (35). This is interesting because, even though opera is an old-timey tradition, the ultra-modernists will never be able to get in the way of opera’s function. He says that they will be able to “rejuvenate” it but they will never be able to change it. I like the idea that Brecht thinks that this kind of art will never truly change and that its “apparatus” will always bring pleasure. Brecht says, “it is a purely hedonistic approach” (36). Opera’s function, music’s function is to bring pleasure to those involved. He continues to say, “the process of fusion extends to the spectator, who gets thrown into the melting pot too and becomes a passive (suffering) part of the total work of art” (38). I think it’s safe to say that this particular sentence agrees with Aristotle’s view of catharsis. The audience is apart of this “melting pot” of plot, music, and with these, emotion. Opera is the apparatus that allows the viewers to take part in the action of the story. Art is active and art is pleasurable in that you get something out of it.
My opinion of the text was that Brecht was not necessarily condemning the end result of this attempt to renovate the opera, only acknowledging what is lost, gained, and changed entirely, if obliviously.
In my experience with the Opera, I understand what Brecht calls for with the need for newness in the realm of Opera, however, sometimes there are things that need to be rooted. Sometimes just looking at a slightly new interpretation can bring a different flavor to the Opera and help bring out a new aspect to the old classics.
|1.||a group or combination of instruments, machinery, tools, materials, etc., having a particular function or intended for a specific use: Our town has excellent fire-fighting apparatus.|
|2.||any complex instrument or mechanism for a particular purpose.|
|3.||any system or systematic organization of activities, functions, processes, etc., directed toward a specific goal: the apparatus of government; espionage apparatus.|
|4.||Physiology. a group of structurally different organs working together in the performance of a particular function: the digestive apparatus.|
Brecht writes "Art is merchandise, only to be manufactured by the means of production (apparati)" (35). Art is stuck in it's own historic niche if we never question it--if we can't mix high and low culture, for example, why? Brecht understands that some art serves a social purpose and that should be maintained. People derive pleasure from opera, but that just keeps them chained to the drug-like (pharmacia) quality of this type of art. Does that make it good, though? Theater, on the other hand, changes works of art in order to fit the apparatus. Epic theater shows things as they are rather than what they could be.
1. Of or pertaining to a kitchen; kitchen-.
2. Of or pertaining to cookery.
3. Of vegetables: Fit for cooking.
Merriam-Webster offers one, which is basically a combination of two from the OED:
1. Of or relating to the kitchen or cookery
It is clear that the word culinary only relates to food, so why then does Brecht use it in an essay about theater? He calls the type of theater he is discussing "culinary theater" constantly throughout the essay. He says that theater is only offered as a sort of mental meal: "It was a means of pleasure long before it turned into merchandise. It furthers pleasure even where it requires, or promotes, a certain degree of education" (35). He believes that it does not make us think, and that cinema is even worse, as it just offers violence and blood for us to stare at.
The advent of photography and film made the question of authenticity problematic, since there can be no original piece or art when the art is produced to be reproduced. "As soon as the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applied to artistic production, the whole social function of art is revolutionized. Instead of being founded on ritual, it is based on a different practice: politics".Exhibition value, rather than the cult function of art is set as the primary function of works at present. For, as the caveman drew on a wall as an exhibition for the spirits, that drawing is seen as art in the present. "The age of technological reproducibility separated art from its basis in cult" (258).
One of the conclusions at which Benjamin's essay is aiming is that this technological reproduction of art has served to alienate man from himself, so that war may be aestheticized, which simultaneously causes communism to politicize art, and fascism to aestheticize politics.