Erin Parker's link to Punked

Here is the link to the Punked episode with Justin Timberlake. 

Phrase: At that point...

"At that point there are three audiences: insiders, outsiders, insiders who are outside."

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.

Levi-Strauss: raw & cooked

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."


(click the posting title to get to the webpage)


Life and Not-Life "broadcast simultaneously"

In Schechner's "News, Sex and Peformance Theory" the subject is the "threshold" between so called "real life" and theatre, and Schechner surmises that television news is the medium most eager to demonstrate this place where the two meet. Theatrical performances such as that of "Squat" often tip-toe the line between reality and production (being both "not" and "not not"), but the six o'clock news straddles it. The biggest question raised is whether there is a line at all, or whether it is only the context in which we take events that produces their definition.

PRECIS: Performance is life

I believe what Schechner is trying to portray in this piece is that the lines between news, performance, sex, and life are blurred. It would be support Shakespeare's line about the world being a stage and the people merely players--where do we draw the line? He gives examples from New York theater, for example a very sexually explicit theater in which people interact with sadomasochistic actions. The theater is run by real people rather than actors, and yet it is still a performance. The people are real, just as the people that are shown in the news. But this, he says, is even becoming more and more entertainment-based. And how much of "reality" TV is scripted? "How do you distinguish between performance and nonperformance, between art and life?" he asks (308). How much of are actions are real and how much of it exists due to outside influences?

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.

Phrase: Save the Drama for your mama

On page 311, Schechner discusses how there is a limitless role of theater, "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 the theater where they exist both as theater and as continuations of ordinary life". This quote is in itself a version of Shakespeare's "all the world's a stage". In the theater, there is a connection of ordinary life there, whether it be something originally taken from life or if it is similar to a real life situation. In these instances it draws on a personal connection from the audience. Have there been times in movies, tv shows, or plays that you think to yourself, "this is just like that one time?" Also, the connection to ordinary life helps the actors and directors bring emotion to the table, and characterizations that may not have been provided for them.

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".

phrase-"people peeping through see not only what's on the other side but their own image too"

In Schechner's essay, "News Sex and Performance Theory" we are presented with the aspect of performance theory that I was already familiar with before this class. In my Communication and Culture classes we have been heavily introduced to the ideas of performance existing as a social function. When Schechner states that "people peeping through see not only what's on the other side but their own image too" (296), he means to say that we act in accordance with how we see ourselves in a given enviornment. We act different in different situations and dictate our own behaviour based off the behaviour of others. Within social interactions there is no "a priori truth" to our personalities. We are not consistant with how we present ourselves. This can be applied to how art (the apparatus) presents itself to society. Art's appearence and content is based off of the current conext of society. Art looks at the way things are in society and adjusts itself to fit those bounds.


One of the main questions that Schechner poses in his essay is where can one draw the line between real life and performance. He presents several theater establishments that are very unconventional in their performances and questions whether or not it can be called art. He says on page 308, "How can you distinguish between performance and nonperformance, between art and life?" I thought it would be interesting to see how the OED defines "performance". According to the most significant definition, a "performance" is:
"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.

WORD: theater

The OED defines theater a number of ways, but here are a few I found interesting:
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.

Phrase: "TV news..."

On page 12, Schecner says, “TV news seems to me to be a paradigm of that peculiar kind of in-between or liminoid performance genre we are getting more and more of.” I found this interesting because while reading the pages that preceded it, I didn’t even think of news as a kind of performance. He makes an interesting comparison, and although I don’t want to agree with it, I think I do. He continues with, “There an
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).

WORD: Decadence

Dictionary.reference.com defines Decadence as:
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.

What is raw and what is cooked?

In News, Sex and Performance Theory, Schechner discusses the distinction between what is “raw” and what is “cooked” with regard to experience and news. In many cases we are confronted with this concept on a regular basis. How many news stations use “the RAW story” as a hook, as a way to all at once sensationalize and simplify the information they are about to present? This duality is something that Schechner seems to be struggling with, as he states that there isn’t “any such thing as ‘human nature’ understood as unmediated, direct, unrehearsed experience” (309). Hard as we try, in the eyes of Schechner, there is a consistent element of performance, thus life can at once fit into the standard theatrical mold. To “cook” or shape reality (or the news) is something that indeed occurs, and while motive is crucial to the end result, the constant struggle for unattainable neutrality also influences they way in which we present (and perform) ourselves.

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.

Precis: Who’s that at the window? Could be art.

Schechner discusses in depth the threshold that different genres of performance and art stand upon. Some have crossed the threshold and are considered to be theater, or art, in the most traditional sense of narrative or creative work. While others are a Brechtian-like break-down of theatre to it’s most fundamental roots. Schechner says that this trend of non-traditional, experimental theatre, will only continue to become more acceptable as time goes on. Even the most obscene or gory situation can be accepted by the audience if it is presented in a way that tells the audience, “this is theatre,” (305). The frame and presentation of theatre has become immensely important, because theatre and art has become so abstract that Schechner asks, “How can you distinguish between performance and nonperformance, between art and life?” (308). Schechner compares the differentiation between art and life, performance and nonperformance, to the internal recognition of play. Play and threat can often go hand in hand, but it is easy to recognize play from threat because we are taught to recognize the motions or subtle movements that signify play. Theatre and art are kept within that similar innate knowledge that allows us to recognize a playful nip from a threatening bite.

Word: Performance


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.

Word: Liminal

Merriam-Webster Online defines the word liminal as: 1) of or relating to a sensory threshold, 2) barley perceptible, and 3) of, relating to, or being in an intermediate state, phase, or condition, i.e., in-between or transitional. This final definition pertains to Schechner's essay.

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.

Word: Threshold

The first page of News, Sex, and Performance Theory introduces "threshold" as "the space that both separates and joins spaces." This paradoxisism (-word?) reoccurs throughout the text with both in the theoretical conversation and through the examples used to demonstrate it. A performance becomes "a person see[ing] the even; [seeing] himself; [seeing] himself seeing the even" and seeing himself seeing others seeing the event. The "layering of seeings" in itself forms thresholds between each form of seeing. The theater on NY's 23rd Street, Squat, utilizes the concept of a threshold in full force when the backdrop for their stage is a glass wall looking out over the street. This threshold divides but also has a door, letting the two settings merge, blurring the lines between the stage and real world. The confusion of categories within this theater was caused by the blurring, facilitated by the threshold. 

Precis: But is it Art?

Schechner uses this question and attempts to put performance theater and the authenticity of the avant gaurde theater into their appropriate realms. The traditional theater is grounded in narrative but these new performances seem more interested in the experience of the audience and reaction. Schechner shows the fine line between “art” and “life”, especially when the audience, by their attendance alone, become apart of the show. “How can you distinguish between performance and nonperformance, between art and life? I’m not sure that it’s an important question as such. The artists of Squat assert that what is “art” depends on the frame surrounding the actions” (Schechner 308). Their art form is presenting a distinction (or lack of) between “life” and “art”. Art does not always have to be defined by the edge of a canvas or the end of a stage.

The Street Scene

(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).



Precis--Sarah Knoth

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. 

PRECIS: Brecht on Theatre - Operating Opera

In Brecht's work, especially focusing on "The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre," he describes the attempts to renovate art (via opera) into something more pleasing to society, instead of a discussion of opera's current existence. He speaks of the need of the people (masses) to reproduce society within the art form of opera when he says, "Society absorbs via the apparatus [opera] whatever it needs in order to reproduce itself" (34). He focuses on the idea of function and its role and importance within society. The discovery of the function of opera, Brecht says, is not desired - only renovation. The avant-garde approach to 'revamping' opera is to utilize new innovations, including the elements of music, text, and setting. Brecht discusses the current desire to 'unmix' these elements and make them more independent of each other, thus keeping audience members interested. Brecht speaks about how, although the attempt is made to avoid changing the social function of opera, eventually, through the avoidance of a blending of elements or illusion, the social function, is, in fact changed, even reaching a didactic theme rather than one of pure entertainment. Brecht compares this loss of enjoyment to a loss of the "culinary element," or pleasurable art.
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.


Opera is considered to be something that has firm roots in shows like Figero and The Magic Flute. For those who are looking to reinvent the opera, they are counseled by Brecht to "attack the roots" (41). In some of the modern operas that have been shown at IU, like Too Many Sopranos and The Wedding, they are unable to fully "attack" the roots to innovate, but they are able to take the lowest of these roots, such as musical themes, and place them in a more contemporary plot. In Too Many Sopranos (which played in 2007 at IU), they work at attacking the "roots" through the mocking of stereotypical opera roles, with their classification of the "sopranos". In this modern opera, it invited those who were not ready for the more classical and heavy pieces, such as Don Giovanni, to participate in the world of Opera and to dabble in the roots, so that you might be more interested in future shows.

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.

WORD: Apparatus

dictionary.com provides the following definitions for the word apparatus.
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.
The idea that reverberates through these definitions is that of having a given entity carrying out a particular purpose. In regard to Brecht's disquisition on the opera, an apparatus is the medium through which a composer and writer represented his desired idea to his audience. The apparatus itself would come to undergo change based on the relevant desire of the audience, which consisted of a unified conglomerate dilettante made up of diverse persons and classes. In Epic theater, a term which Brecht attributes to the then modern theater, uses this apparatus not solely to present an idea or image, but to engage the audience even further by asking it to make subjective judgments not necessarily made for them by the intent of the author.

Phrase: "Art is merchandise"

Brecht gives arguments for changing opera and theatre, but by still maintaining the quality that made it popular in the first place. The historic quality, Brecht says, is what makes opera popular, for example. He would rather there be a discussion of the purpose of art and if its apparatus is suitable for the art. Brecht discusses throughout much of the text about the dialogue that should exist in regards to art, but is avoided through fear of change.

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.

PHRASE: Pleasure grows in proportion to the degree of unreality

Brecht doesn't like the fact that the unreality of the opera feeds into the unreality of the opera audience. In Brecht's opinion, the current state of theater pulls the audience to far into the depths of what they are viewing, to the point that the audience forgets themselves. "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). Brecht calls for a segregation of opera's core fibers. Music, text, setting, Brecht believes that breaking the theatre down to it's core elements, will desensitize the audience from what is happening on stage, enough to pull the audience out of the spell of the theatre. Brecht does not approve of the demeanor people take on when they are at the theatre. "They hand in their hat at the cloakroom, and with it they hand their normal behaviour," (39). Brecht despises the degree of unreality, which takes over the social structure of audience members.

Word: Culinary

The OED offers three definitions of "culinary":

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.

Precis: Brecht on Theater

In Brecht's essay on theater, opera in particular, he takes an avant-garde approach to a time old art. What is important to point out is that Brecht does not wish to change opera but wants to take the "apparati" that IS opera and renovate it for a new generation. What is interesting in how he discusses opera is that he compares it to that of culinary elements. He quotes, "Our existing opera is a culinary opera. It was a means of pleasure long before it turned into merchandise" (35). Basically, opera should have a hedonistic taste. Brecht notes that opera's content should be pleasurable and that the pleasure must be provocative at the same time. He brings this point up when discussing the play Mahagonny saying that "In context like these the use of opera as a means of pleasure must have provocative effects today. Though not of course on the handful of opera-goers. Its power to provoke introduces reality once more. Mahagonny may not taste particularly agreeable; it may even make a point of not doing so. But it is culinary through and through" (36-7). His essay continues with the discussion of what constitutes epic theatre and its progress from its Aristotlian roots, the literarization of Theatre and the street scene.

Phrase: “The Demonstrator need not be an artist.”

Brecht uses “The Street Scene” as a basic model for epic theater. He uses the bystanders’ reenactment of a street accident to show the way in which an actor should be used in an epic. “The demonstrator need not be an artist” (Brecht 122). The actor’s focus should not rely on his or her ability to become a character. What is more important is having the audience aware that they are not witnessing an actual accident but a representation of one. “[I]t is important that he should not be too perfect. His demonstration would be spoilt if the bystanders’ attention were drawn to his powers of transformation” (Brecht 122). This type of representation leads the audience to form their own view about the accident/scene.



Benjamin's essay discusses the effects of the technological reproduction of art, in a society where this is the norm. He believes part of the worth and relevance of art is its "here and now" value, its being entrenched in the historical moment from which it has its origins (253). This here and now value can never be recaptured in a reproduction. "Stated as a general formula, the technology of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the sphere of tradition. By replicating the work many times over, it substitutes a mass existence for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to reach the recipient in his or her own situation, it actualizes that which is reproduced" (254).

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.