Theatre is: A place to see, and a place to be seen. A place set aside for the presentation of
theatrical forms. "Theatre", from the greek Theatron: "Seeing Place"
Theatre can refer to: • a place (what's playing at the theatre?)
• an artform (theatre, dance, music, etc.)
• a social practice (let's go to the theatre) • an industry (I work in theatre) • a profession
(I am a theatre artist)
• a form of communication (theatre tells us about life)
• a social relationship (the coming together of a group to share an experience)
And contains Duality.
The development of postmodern thinking in the latter part of the twentieth
century has led to the reevaluation of what is possible in theatre and the arts in
The European hegemony has become so ingrained in colonial cultures that there is
an inevitable mix of the canon of the colonizers in attempts to retrieve and rethink
the culture of the colonized
As we make our way around the world looking at theatre and performance, we
see that there are many similarities and many differences. –
there is a wide range of theatre everywhere we go. Theatre cannot be separated
from the society for which it is created and presented.
Theatre is largely about storytelling and each area has its own stories to tell.
These stories resonate and the telling calls up many associations.
Canada: traditional forms imported from Britain and France then from the US.
Original work by Canadian playwrights from varied backgrounds, a lively fringe
scene, commercial and non commercial houses, big festivals (Shaw, Stratford,
World Stage, Festival Trans Amerique), indigenous theatre, opera, music theatre,
dance, community theatre and amateur companies. Theatre is even taught in
U.S.A. Musicals, first nations, much like here and often reflecting the immigrant
experience Caribbean: Carnival most nations use this celebration as a reflection of their
South America: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Carnival in Rio is a huge event. While
many indiginous peoples had theatre/ritual/poetry/song with sets and costumes,
the colonizing missionaries appropriated these forms to spread Christian doctrine,
maintaining a cultural hegemony.
Australia: similar isues of colonization and suppression of indigenous forms (see
Aboriginal Dance Theater, Bangarra Dance theatre)
China: zaju Yuan Dynasty (12791368), kunqu Ming (13681644), Jingxi or
Peking Opera (from mid 1800's)Both men and women performed except for a
period from mid 18thc to early 20th.Colour had symbolic significance.
India: Elaborate costume, dance and gesture mark much of traditional theatre, the
forms of which vary throughout the country. eg. Kathakali
Middle East: Arab theatre as 'plays' is relatively new (200 yrs) but ancient
traditions include puppetry, storytelling and Ta'ziyah a type of religious passion
play performed in Shi'a communities
Africa: A mix of colonial influence and native storytelling 'Village theatre,' a
popular tradition which is based on traditions of music, song, dance and story
Europe: The tradition we are most familiar with from Greece to medieval Europe
to France and England Italy etc.
Theatre du Soleil, France (Ariane Mnouchkine)
N o t e s :
Acting is: “behaving believably under fictional circumstances,” see ABC of
Acting[link]) All acting is about performing conventionalized systems of signs
that represent "natural feelings".
What is the role of the actor?Historically, there have been different ways of
thinking about what the actor "should" be:•Actor as conduit for playwright to
animate text; declamatory style of acting
•Actor as reflection of recognizable social behavior: to express a given emotion
(Restoration/18th Century British Theatre: the Passions, stylized representation
of emotion taken from art) •Actor as amorphous: to "become" the character. To "live" the role.Tabula rasa
("blank" slate") theory of acting: the body of the actor as a free and empty space,
to be written upon, shaped by, manipulated by, outside forces
REPRESENTATIONALreality, feeling and transmitting real emotion
PRESENTATIONALartifice skill and training heightened theatricality
declamatory acting (in fact almost all acting up to the late 19thc)
20th Century phenomenon: psychological realism onstage becomes the dominant
approach to actor training in English how did this develop?K o n s t a n t i n
S t a n i s l a v s k i • The Stanislavski System (1880s)• Moscow Art Theatre
(Chekhov); realism onstage• Tried to find what makes a "true" performance•
Intersections with psychology (Freud); training actors to work from the inside
outward• Subtext: the meaning behind the text (motivation, the
UNCONSCIOUS)• The magic "if": "If you were .....what would you do?");
identification of actor and character• For Stanislavski, Motivation leads to Action,
which leads to "true" emotionStanislavski in the U.S.: Lee Strasberg The Actors'
Studio (NYC)Method acting: Affective memory (remembering past experiences
in order to identify with a character)
What is the relationship between actor training and capitalist culture?•
infrastructure of actor training• actor training becomes a highly specialized field
with institutions, certified teachers, handbooks, students, and countless actors•
this training becomes an essential job credential without it, actors cannot get
jobs. In effect, actors are themselves produced from a system that relies upon
modes of production and consumption.
Actor Training Today (Conservatory models in North America and the U.K.)
• focused on three "foundations": 1. Voice 2. Movement 3. "Acti