Generating Theatre Meaning: A Theory and Methodology of Performance Analysis

Generating Theatre Meaning: A Theory and Methodology of Performance Analysis

by Eli Rozik
Pub. Date:
Sussex Academic Press


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Generating Theatre Meaning: A Theory and Methodology of Performance Analysis

This book offers a theory and methodology of performance analysis as an alternative to traditional play-analysis. The underlying theme is that theatre performance is a descriptive text generated by the theatre medium and that the process of generating meaning takes place in the actual encounter between a theatre performance and the spectator. Many new understandings result, including how the theatre medium is iconic in the new sense of operating images of real or mental models, and how this impacts on the verbal text and stage metaphor; how poetic principles structure fictional worlds and bestow unity and wholeness on performance-texts; how a dialogue between implied director and implied spectator is inscribed in the performance-text; and how the implied spectator is characterized by functions of framing, reading, interpreting and experiencing a performance-text. It follows that actors’bodies on stage fulfil functions of textuality, metatheatricality, personification, characterization and aesthetic effect. … An Introduction surveys major contributions made to a methodology of performance analysis, particularly throughout the twentieth century, and problematizes the main issues. Part I is devoted to the semiotic substratum of the performance-text, i.e. to the theatre medium and its basic means of generating theatre texts and meaning. The innovation of this approach lies in seeing theatre first and foremost as a nonverbal medium. Part II deals with the poetic structure of fictional worlds described by the theatre medium and the metaphoric and rhetoric structures that operate on the level of relationship between the description of such a world and the world of a spectator. Part III contains analyses of actual performance-texts that illustrate the application of principles previously presented. … This is the first comprehensive book to address the necessity of a methodology of performance analysis and take issue with criticism of traditional theatre semiotics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845192525
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Publication date: 02/01/2008
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 9.02(w) x 5.98(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Eli Rozik is professor emeritus of theatre studies at Tel Aviv University where he was twice head of the department of theater studies and the dean of the faculty. He is the author of Fictional Thinking, The Language of Theatre, Metaphoric Thinking, and The Roots of Theatre.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements x Introduction: State of the Art and Perspectives 1 Main schools and trends 2 The formalist movement 2 The Prague Linguistic Circle 3 Roman Ingarden 4 The semiotic school 4 Post-semiotic criticism 5 The IFTR Performance Analysis Working Group 6 Main theoretical topics 7 Textual nature of the theatre performance 7 Descriptive nature of the performance-text 8 Imagistic nature of the theatre medium 8 Basic convention of the theatre medium 10 Univocal nature of theatre units 10 Segmentation of the performance-text 11 The principle of acting: deflection of reference 12 Theatrical nature of the play-script 12 Poetic structure of the fictional world 13 Metaphoric nature of the fictional experience 14 Rhetoric structure of the theatre experience 15 Role of the implied director 15 Role of the implied spectator 16 A phenomenology of theatre 16 Structure of the book 17 Part I Semiotic Substratum
1 The Imagistic Nature of Iconicity 21 Imagistic thinking: from Nietzsche to neuroscience 23 Iconicity: image imprinting and language mediation 25 The basic convention of theatre 27 Explanatory power of the imagistic approach 27 Typical iconic units 28 Real objects on stage 29 Stage metaphor 31 Stage convention 32
2 Segmentation of Performance-texts 34 Segmentation of real interaction 35 Ingarden's view of fictional verbal interaction 39 The pragmatic approach of Serpieri et al. 40 Segmentation of iconic interaction 41 Segmentation of stage objects 44 Segmentation of iconic interaction in Habimah's The Seagull 45
3 Stage Metaphor and Symbol 48 A theory of verbal metaphor 48 Stage metaphor 52 Speech act stage metaphor 56 Stylistic implications of mixedstage metaphor 57 Stage allegory 58 Personification 58 Substitution 59 Mediation by abstraction 60 Mixed praxical and allegoric discourse 61 Stage symbol 61
4 Stage Conventions 64 Reading principles 65 Kinds of stage conventions 66 Medium conventions 66 Imagistic conventions 67 Functions of stage conventions 68 Semiotic functions 68 Poetic functions 69 Norms and styles 76
5 Acting: The Quintessence of Theatre 78 Deflection of reference 79 Expanded notions of 'actor', 'text' and 'character' 82 Existential gaps between text and two worlds 84 The fundamental gap between real action and enacting action 86 Experiencing the performers' bodies 88
6 The Theatrical Nature of the Play-script 90 Two kinds of theatre texts 91 The literary fallacy 93 Play-script analysis 95 Intertextual relations between performance-text and play-script 97 Part II Additional Strata and Disciplines
7 The Poetic Structure of the Fictional World 105 The twofold structure of the performance-text 106 Archetypal patterns of response 107 The stratified structure of the fictional world 110 Mythical layer 110 Praxical layer 111 Naive layer 112 Ironic layer 113 Aesthetic layer 114 Structure of the character 116 Possible fallacies 116 Sophocles' Oedipus the King 118
8 The Metaphoric Nature of the Fictional Experience 120 The metaphoric principle 121 The expressive nature of fictional worlds 122 The principle of personification 123 The apparent double reference of the performance-text 124 The mechanism of textual metaphor 125 Poetic implications 127 Metaphor in dramatic practice 129 Sophocles' Oedipus the King (continued) 129 Yerushalmi's Jephthah's Daughter 130
9 The Rhetoric Structure of the Theatre Experience 133 The pragmatic nature of speech interaction 134 The pragmatic nature of stage/audience interaction 135 Descriptive nature of the performance-text 136 Performative nature of the performance-text 136 Equivalence agent/director and object/spectator 137 Notion of 'macro-speech act' 138 Rhetoric nature of the stage/audience interaction 139 Yerushalmi's Jephthah's Daughter (continued) 143
10 The Implied Director 146 Hermeneutic vs. creative interpretation 147 The mechanism of creative interpretation 149 Fidelity, creativity, and legitimacy 150 Creative interpretation and intertextuality 151 Productions of Beckett's Waiting for Godot 152 The play-script 152 Creative interpretations of Waiting for Godot 154
11 The Implied Spectator 161 Real vs. implied spectator 161 Roles of the implied spectator 163 Yerushalmi's Woyzeck 91 164 Framing a performance-text 164 Reading a performance-text 166 Interpreting a performance-text 168 Experiencing a performance-text 171 Dialogue between implied director and implied spectator 173
12 A Phenomenology Theatre 174 State's phenomenological approach 175 Alternative phenomenological approaches 179 Functions of actors' bodies on stage 180 Textuality 181 Metatheatricality 181 Personification 182 Characterization 183 Aesthetic effect 183 Life Class: a personal experience 184 Theatre vs. performance art 186 Part III Examples of Performance Analysis
13 A Transient Shadow: A Silent Description of a Speaking Fictional World 191 Reading A Transient Shadow 192 Interpreting A Transient Shadow 198 Principles of non-verbal description 202 Inherently non-verbal acts 202 Symbolic non-verbal acts 203 Metonymic non-verbal acts 203 Metaphoric non-verbal acts 204 Metaphoric hand gestures 204 Allegoric characters 205 Projected titles 205
14 Suz/o/Suz by La Fura dels Baus: Theatre at the Borderline 207 The notion of 'performance' 208 The notion of 'actual' 210 Performing an action vs. enacting an action 213 Suz/o/Suz by La Fura dels Baus 213
15 Habimah's The Trojan Women: A Ready-made Metaphor of Unjustified War 222 Euripides' The Trojan Women and its Homeric sources 223 Sartre's adaptation: Les Troyennes 227 Habimah's production of Les Troyennes 231
16 Robert Wilson's H.G: Non-theatrical Space as Stage Metaphor 237 Reading H.G. 238 On the legitimacy of interpretation 244 An attempt at interpretation 245 The warren - a found-space metaphor 247
17 Yerushalmi's Woyzeck 91: Intention in Creative Interpretation 250 Buchner's Woyzeck 251 Yerushalmi's Woyzeck 91 257
18 Methodological Conclusions 266 Aims of performance analysis 267 Means of performance analysis 268 Theoretical focus 268 Personal experience 269 Use of video recording 269 Abridged account 270 Intuition of structure and meaning 270 Independent performance analysis 270 The disciplines of performance analysis 271 Excludes disciplines 275 List of Cited Works 277 Index 289

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