By Gareth White (auth.)
This publication asks that we contemplate the practices that facilitate viewers participation on equivalent phrases with different parts of the theatre maker's paintings; it bargains a theoretical foundation for this new technique, illustrated by means of examples from varied participatory performances.
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Extra info for Audience Participation in Theatre: Aesthetics of the Invitation
Second, in drama and theatre, Goffman reconstructs this as the ‘person-character’ formula: citing restrictions on the kinds of people who are allowed to perform and what they are allowed to play as an obvious example of a formula – the close physical resemblance between character and performer demanded by western naturalism, or the Onnagata tradition in Kabuki, where the female ‘romantic lead’ is played by a very experienced older man. Alongside appearance formulas as the permissible differences between the person and their role, there is ‘resource continuity’ (287–292), the ways in which individuals bring aspects of themselves to different roles and maintain a connection across various activities: among other things this might constitute what we could call an individual’s style, but it is 38 Audience Participation in Theatre also the use within the framed activity of the cultural and personal skills they possess.
He too must be a subject, an actor on an equal plane with those generally accepted as actors, who must also be spectators. (Boal 1979: 154–155) Introduction 21 This is an extravagant claim. While it is entirely possible to show that the practice of Theatre of the Oppressed, with its audience participatory and extended participation techniques, can be instrumental in stimulating a capacity for (social, political) action in individuals and communities, and promoting an idea of a ‘humanised’ subjectivity (and some of the works cited above do this, in relation to particular examples of the techniques in context), it is not necessary to exaggerate the failings of conventional spectatorship in order to make this point.
Others suggest that intimacy, to the extent of the loss of autonomy, might represent both a materially productive and ethical approach. For Fischer-Lichte, in The Transformative Power of Performance (2008), there is no distance between the spectator and the work, because the spectator is part of the work. For her, in all performance, but in a self-conscious and strategic way in performance since the 60s, there is an ‘autopoietic feedback loop’ (2008: 39). Autopoietic because it is self-generating, an emergent system that arises from itself, with only the input of raw materials rather than an exterior guiding hand; and a feedback loop because the activity of the spectators, however subtle, becomes part of the event, generating the variations in the activity of the performers and other spectators that generate more variations, and so on, and produce the liveness of the theatre event.