Post Modernism CAPS Content Background and context: social,
Post Modernism CAPS Content Background and context: social, political, religious, economic, artistic, historical, theatrical as relevant to theatre movement Characteristics: structure and form, language, characters, themes Stylistic elements such as: design, setting, costume, lighting, use of language, characterisation Staging: performance space, acting style and movement Difference between Realism and Post-Modern Theatre Notable playwrights, directors and theatre makers (local and international) The influence of Postmodernist Theatre Post Modernism Have you ever experienced information overload? Do you ever feel overwhelmed or anxious because there are so many choices out there
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ht eh trut e see t ould b w sh Background and context It is hard to fix it in time or space, because it is not clear exactly when Modernism ends or Postmodernism begins. The movement of Postmodernism began with architecture, as a reactionary movement against the seeming dullness and hostility The term postmodernism indicates a way present in the Modern of thinking, or even non-thinking, more movement. than it refers to a particular historical
period. Background and context Postmodern Western theater responds to the multicultural, ironic, cynical, and chaotic social, political, philosophical and artistic developments of the last quarter of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. It does not view the world as an absurd, meaningless place of existence on the edge of destruction, but rather as a place where meaning and truth are relative and subject to different understandings and interpretations Post Modernism defined Postmodern Western theatre serves, mainly, to attack and deconstructs (takes apart) a number of the central ideas often presented in Modernist theatrical productions while highlighting the Postmodern notion of truth as ultimately unverifiable. It suggests that it is up to the audience to decide what is and is not true in terms of the drama being presented on the stage.
It is generally accepted that the Western world remains in the midst of the age of Postmodern theater Characteristics 1. The accepted norms of seeing and representing the world are challenged and disregarded 2. A pastiche of different texts and media forms is used, including the simultaneous use of multiple art or media forms 3. The narrative needs not be complete but can be broken. Uses non-linear storytelling conventions. A postmodern play proceeds in almost any order the playwright wishes to construct, and such time warping no longer seems surprising. 4. Characters are fragmented 5. Each new performance of a theatrical piece is a new Gestalt, a unique spectacle 6. The audience is central to the shared meaning making of the performance process and its members are included in the dialogue of the play. 7. The production exists only in the viewer's mind as what the viewer interprets - nothing more and nothing less. Acknowledgement of a plays fictionality.
Characteristics continued 8. The rehearsal process in a theatrical production is driven more by shared meaning-making and improvisation, rather than the scripted text. 9. The play steps back from reality to create its own self-conscious atmosphere. This is sometimes referred to as meta-theatre 10. Radical experimentations in language and thought 11. The abandonment of any attempt to replicate reality 12. The deliberate combination of wild humor with terrible tragedy 13. A postmodern play proceeds in almost any order the playwright wishes to construct, and such time warping 14. An audience can expect cross-association and is able to keep several ideas and chronologies in mind at the same time, blending them into a satisfying dramatic experience. What is pastiche? The word comes from French, and is used to describe a visual art technique similar to collage Different texts, images and media forms are pasted together to create one piece Borrowing, referencing, and layering different
texts and images together is a typical feature of Postmodern Drama Stylistic elements Objective is to bring attention to the medium and message. Not random and arbitrary but sophisticated rationale/thinking for choices Design- no prescribed rules on how it should look e.g. sergeant could use cup that look like a gun from which he drinks. Setting-use architecture of existing spaces and buildings as context for performance Costume-does not have to reflect an era that is presented- it could be defied, an interpretation (sergeant doesnt have to wear stereotypical costume but a medal could signify his status, wearing underpants could show his vulnerability Lighting-multi-media Use of language- several genres from tragic to comic, from Elizabethan to rap in the same performance. Inter-textual, may have beginning, middle and end but not necessarily in that order Characterisation-it could be deliberate cross-gender casting Staging Actors played scenery and props, and played themselves using story
and character merely as vehicles for direct interactions with audiences. De-familairising the familiar: Rejected conventional notions of where theatre should be presented. It could be in restaurants, in a restroom, in an abandoned railway station etc Set: It is no longer in a building site-created e.g. at a cemetry and create play using gravestone, epitaphs, existing landscape etc. to create performance. site-specific- rehearse performance and perform in venue different to rehearsal space. Performance, instead of conventional presenting of lines, could be done as rap Character, time, space does not have to be from same era. Can be pastiche (collage) of different strea Difference between Realism and Post-Modern Theatre Access to universal truths can be achieved through formal devices like plot, cause and effect, and character development There are many possible truths, depending on the point of view. Playwrights, actors and audience members all lend their
perspectives to the creative process. To be able to create this illusion it was imperative for the actors to become the character on stage. No more makebelieve, but an actor who really experiences each and every emotion and feeling of the character he portrays on stage. Rejects the notion of make-believe and instead sees theatrical performance as a real life event or happening in which the audience participates. Grand narrative is shatteredoverturning the promise of grand stories to provide absolute, permanent, and universal Truth for their audiences Acting to be believable Primary focus upon the actor, the body in the space. The actor embodies the narrative, playing multiple roles and engaging the audience with their craft and versatility: It could be deliberate cross-gender casting as, for example, actors switching roles as well as genders between the first and second acts of Caryl Churchills Cloud Nine (1983), or a young actress with an obviously fake beard playing the old Jewish rabbi at the opening of Tony Kushners Angels in America (1993) forces us to confront a
meaningful separation between the actor and his or her role. Characters were well- rounded with full historical and psychological backgrounds Deconstructing drama into storytelling and disconnecting actors from characters in order to toss the plays issues directly into the audience (see visual on next slide) Script *Texts are collaboratively authored, they are not singular, stable, or consensual *Can be re-created from an existing script or it can be a new script. It is fluid and can be reconstructed as it is developed. *No longer a hierarchy with theatre elements: script, a playwright, director *The script was absolute in era prior to this. In post modern performances, texts can be made out of lights with quotes projected onto screen. *Texts are changed, revised, updated and transformed through performance practices
*The emphasis is on process rather than product *The rehearsal process in a theatrical production is driven more by shared meaning-making and improvisation, than by the scripted text Difference between Realism and Post-Modern Theatre To sustain the illusion it was necessary to hide all devices In the postmodern theatre, the showing is part of the show. Theatre practitioners were frantic about recreating life on Devices like standard plots and character development are stage The audience was to be lured into believing that what minimized. they see on stage is really happening; therefore the play was generally set in a short space of time ('real time') with only a few characters. Use of a box set on a Proscenium stage was the most Multi-media forms popular setting. Box set represents real life in every detail eg period, social
standing Props were the real thing Lighting realistic and appears to come from real sources e.g. a lamp The postmodern disconnect between actor and character is helpful in creating this openness, as playwrights or directors seek to create roles more than characters, inviting the audience to see an actor not as a character but rather as an actor playing a character. Difference between Realism and Post-Modern Theatre The proscenium arch (in front of the scene) or picture frame remained as the surround for the stage - framing the action that the audience, who were seated in the dark, viewed through the invisible fourth wall. Three dimensional sets
were the order of the day and great attention was paid to set dressing in order to create a realistic environment in which the actor could 'live' his role. Hence the use of sofas, vases, light-fittings, carpets, paintings, portraits, curtains, windows and doors that opened and closed etc. Flexible staging depending on text To be able to create "a slice of life" on stage it was necessary that all theatrical devices such as lights and sound equipment be hidden from the view of the audience. Not creating a slice of life on stage hence no need to use devices to create illusion. Increasingly, the raw mechanics of theatrical practice are visible e.g. microphones, worn on the actors body, forcing us to acknowledge the actor and the theatrical technology the actor employs, beneath the character being played. Audience never witnessed the set changes which took place behind the closed curtains thereby reinforcing the illusion of reality
Plays increasingly comment on their own dramatisation their dramaturgy as well e.g. in Urinetown (2001) a character asks another, Is this where you tell the audience about the water shortage? Some notable playwrights Tom Stoppard: meta-fictional plays often offer pastiches of different literary and historical sources. David Mamet: plays tend to focus on the ways in which people relate to, assault, and manipulate one another through language. Sam Shepard: plays tend to examine clashes between different generations and social classes. Eric Bogosian: distinctly self-conscious plays consider the influence of mass media on postmodern American life. The influence of Postmodernist Theatre Post modernism reminds us that meaning is never universal, total, neutral, or permanent. t uses the strategies of blankness, irony, and reflexivity (going back
and forth) to heighten our awareness. Revolt against realism- of one belief/ one answer. Post modernism says there are multiple realities, perspectives, styles, use of language, performance space, themes, stories e.g. Shortcuts Playwrights had liberty to experiment with various genres, styles, etc. Disassembling a text and uncovering its tensions, contradictions, absences, and paradoxes. In this view, meaning is not contained in the superficial content of the text creates a condition in which anything goes, and therefore no interpretation should assume priority over an alternative. Post Modern drama
The reader is the creator of meaning The author does not hold any ultimate truth the product created Scripts often just a starting point Performance itself layered with images, soundscapes and multimedia experiences that could not have been captured in a script The text for Hamletmachine, for example, is more like a score for an orchestra than a script for actors to follow faithfully. The director might interpret, add images or choose styles to flesh out the script. In Ben Eltons Popcorn, a debate rages as to whether or not movies are responsible for violence in society. The playwright does not offer one point of view, rather leaving the audience to construct their own ultimate message. This concept, known in literature as reader response theory Examples of Post modernist plays Peter Shaffers Equus In Peter Shaffers Equus- Alan Strang , made clear that staged nudity, though perhaps no longer shocking, retains its tremendous power to create an intense theatrical impact. In Equus, the way the scenes shift seamlessly and
different locations blend together in the telling of the story, supports the theme of a psychological reality that is impossible to pin down. Hamletmachine (in German, Die Hamletmaschine) Hamletmachine (in German, Die Hamletmaschine) Hamletmachine (in German, Die Hamletmaschine) is a postmodernist drama by German playwright and theatre director Heiner Mller. Written in 1977 Characteristic of the play is that it is not centred on a conventional plot, but partially connects through The play is constituted of scenes. The whole text is roughly nine pages long. The script itself is extremely dense and open to interpretation; recurring themes include feminism HEINER MULLER. HAMLET MACHINE The play is loosely based on Hamlet by
William Shakespeare. The play originated in relation to a translation of Shakespeare's Hamlet that Mller undertook. Some critics claim the play problematises the role of intellectuals during the East German Communism area; others argue that the play should be understood in relation to wider post-modern concepts. Characteristic of the play is that it is not centred on a conventional plot, but partially connects through sequences of monologues, where the protagonist leaves his role and reflects on being
an actor. Top Girls deals with womens losing their humanity in order to attain power in a maledominated environment BEN ELTON. POPCORN The book depicts the differences between different social groups in America, from rich people with guards like Bruce Delamitri to poorer people Wayne and Scout.
TOM STOPPARD ROZENCRANTS AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD The play expands upon the exploits of two minor characters from Shakespeare`s hamlet, the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The action of Stoppard's play takes place mainly "in the wings" of Shakespeare's, with brief appearances of major characters from Hamlet who enact fragments of the original's scenes. Between these episodes the two protagonists voice their confusion at the progress of events of which occurring onstage without
them in Hamletthey have no direct knowledge. SAM SHEPARD. BURRIED CHILD Theatre which depicts the fragmentatio n of the American nuclear family in a context of disappointm ent and disillusionme nt with American mythology and the American
dream, the 1970s rural economic slowdown and the breakdown of traditional family structures and values. ROBERT WILSON. STALIN. EINSTEIN Wilson structured Einstein on the Beach as a repeating sequence of three different kinds of space. Between major acts are shorter entr'actes known as "knee plays," a signature technique that Wilson has applied throughout his oeuvre. Propelling idea of "non-plot" within Einstein on
the Beach, its libretto employs syllables, numbers, and short sections of poetry. In an interview, Glass comments that he originally intended for his audience to construct personal connections with Einstein as a character and with the music that he assigns to the icon. POSTMODERN DRAMA Glossary aesthetic: a set of principles underlying an artistic movement centre: Europe and the rest of the Western world were traditionally regarded as the centre of philosophical thought and culture, but Postmodern thinking questions this idea, saying that there is not one centre and there is not a margin, rather many different sites, or locations, which are just as important as each other deconstruction: to take apart an idea, or a set of ideas. A literary and philosophical movement that emphasises that a text has an unlimited amount of interpretations disembodied: separated from the body juxtapose: to place two or more contrasting images or ideas next to each other meta-text: text that self-consciously refers to itself
meta-theatre: theatre that comments on itself multiplicity: a large number nonlinear constructions: when a play is structured in such a way that the plot leads in a number of different directions rather than in a straight line plurality: a large number of people or things polyphonic: many voices pastiche: an artistic work that is made up of an assortment of different pieces imitating a variety of sources paradigm: worldview periphery: the edge or margin reflexivity: something that refers back to itself, comments on itself or reflects on itself
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