Between Theater and Anthropology

Between Theater and Anthropology

RICHARD SCHECHNER
FOREWORD BY VICTOR TURNER
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 360
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fhjzs
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    Between Theater and Anthropology
    Book Description:

    In performances by Euro-Americans, Afro-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians, Richard Schechner has examined carefully the details of performative behavior and has developed models of the performance process useful not only to persons in the arts but to anthropologists, play theorists, and others fascinated (but perhaps terrified) by the multichannel realities of the postmodern world. Schechner argues that in failing to see the structure of the whole theatrical process, anthropologists in particular have neglected close analogies between performance behavior and ritual. The way performances are created-in training, workshops, and rehearsals-is the key paradigm for social process.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0092-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. FOREWORD
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Victor Turner

    For an anthropologist (working in several cultures, “posttribal,” “peasant,” and “urban-industrial”), it was both theoretically illuminating and personally rewarding to meet Richard Schechner, whose life has been dedicated to organizing and understanding performances. My own field experience had forced me to pay special attention not only to institutionalized performances, such as rituals and ceremonies, but also to what Erving Goffman calls the (dramatic) “presentation of self in everyday life.” My own self was now presented with an experimentalist in performing. I learned from him that all performance is “restored behavior,” that the fire of meaning breaks out from rubbing together...

  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. 1 POINTS OF CONTACT BETWEEN ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND THEATRICAL THOUGHT
    (pp. 3-34)

    Whether practitioners and scholars of either discipline like it or not, there are points of contact between anthropology and theater; and there are likely to be more coming. These points of contact are at present selective—only a little of anthropology touches a little of theater. But quantity is not the only, or even the decisive, measure of conceptual fertility. This mixing will, I think, be fruitful. Clifford Geertz writes that “in recent years there has been an enormous amount of genre mixing in social science, as in intellectual life generally” (1980, 165). He goes on to specify the “drama...

  7. 2 RESTORATION OF BEHAVIOR
    (pp. 35-116)

    Restored behavior is living behavior treated as a film director treats a strip of film. These strips of behavior¹ can be rearranged or reconstructed; they are independent of the causal systems (social, psychological, technological) that brought them into existence. They have a life of their own. The original “truth” or “source” of the behavior may be lost, ignored, or contradicted—even while this truth or source is apparently being honored and observed. How the strip of behavior was made, found, or developed may be unknown or concealed; elaborated; distorted by myth and tradition. Originating as a process, used in the...

  8. 3 PERFORMERS AND SPECTATORS TRANSPORTED AND TRANSFORMED
    (pp. 117-150)

    By using masks, costumes, and physical actions arranged in a set way or improvised according to known rules; by performing following a script, scenario, or set of rules; by performing in special places or places made special by performing in them; by performing on holidays or at times set aside “after work” or at crisis in the life cycle such as initiations, weddings, and funerals: by all these means, and more, theatrical reality is marked “nonordinary—for special use only.” Furthermore, what is performed is encoded—I want to say nested, trapped, contained, distilled, held, restrained, metaphorized—in one, or...

  9. 4 RAMLILA OF RAMNAGAR
    (pp. 151-212)

    The subject of Ramlila (plates 33–48), especially the month-long Ramnagar Ramlila,¹ is like the story of Krishna’s mouth. I have seen the great Bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati perform this story. Krishna’s mother fears that the little Krishna has put some dirt, or something dangerous, in his mouth. She asks him to open his mouth. He refuses. She asks again and again. Finally he opens his mouth and she looks in. There, in amazement, bewilderment, even terror, she sees all the worlds. Contained in her baby’s tiny mouth is the unspeakable Absolute. Revealed, Krishna closes his mouth, and with it his...

  10. 5 PERFORMER TRAINING INTERCULTURALLY
    (pp. 213-260)

    At the Kathakali Kalamandalam in Kerala, southwest India, where, apparently, an old and traditional way of training is followed, the boys who will become Kathakali performers get up before dawn during the rainy season to begin eight hours of training embedded in a thirteen-hour day (plate 49). I never trained as a Kathakali performer, as some Americans have, but I followed the training routine for several weeks in June and July 1976. All references are to notes I made at that time.

    This “new” Kalamandalam is of institutional design—not like “traditional” Kerala. The Kalamandalam covers the crest of a...

  11. 6 PLAYING WITH GENET’S BALCONY: LOOKING BACK ON A 1979/1980 PRODUCTION
    (pp. 261-294)

    The poison of the commercial theater has so soaked into our ways of thinking that even an experimental production is regarded as a success or a failure. The show either makes it at the box office, with critics, by word of mouth, or it is sent away defeated. “Forget about it,” people say, “and go on to the next thing.” This is a stupid way of advancing theatrical thought, for why can’t a work be neither a success nor a failure but a step along the way, an event that yields some interesting data? In other words, though entertainment values...

  12. 7 NEWS, SEX, AND PERFORMANCE THEORY
    (pp. 295-324)

    It’s as hard to write about performance, theory or practice, as it is to put ideas, as such, onstage, for the writing is always indirect, representative, the map not the territory. And the stage always is there, physical first, a gaping territory only vaguely pointing elsewhere. But both writing and performing create negativity. Emily Dickinson: “Wonder is not precisely knowing, / And not precisely knowing not, / A beautiful but bleak condition.”

    Performance theory, when well done, takes into account both the beauty and the bleak condition—as well as the negativity, full of the Japanese Mu, pregnant pause, full...

  13. REFERENCES
    (pp. 325-332)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 333-342)