Creating the Self in the Contemporary American Theatre

By Robert J. Andreach | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Conclusion: Engaging the Spectator in the Creating

Within weeks of seeing Finley's performance of We Keep Our Victims Ready, with a woman friend I again became a member of a Living Theatre ritual. I had participated decades earlier, but it was not until the fall of 1990 that I rejoined the company founded in 1947 by Julian Beck and Judith Malina. In the 1960s Paradise Now brought notoriety and leadership in interactive theatre at home and abroad. In the 1980s the company, under the direction of Malina and Hanon Reznikov, returned from Europe to perform collective creations such as The Body of God.

Since The Body of God is a ritual, I could apply to it Beck's imperatives for engaging the audience. In his collection of thoughts about the Living Theatre's mission, the co-founder notes that for spectators one of theatre's attractions is the ability of actors to become the characters they play. He calls their accomplishment "heroic" because they "get out of the labyrinth of lower consciousness" to enter another consciousness. In effect he then asks, If performers can become members of another class by acting, why cannot spectators? Well, of course they can--by acting! There follow the Seven Imperatives of Contemporary Theatre1 for awakening the histrionic sensibility of the spectators so that they can participate in the creation of the theatre ritual and therefore of the self and the society.

I could apply the imperatives, but I do not want to. Only weeks earlier I had watched a ritual. Now I was about to enter one, and I want to share my experience rather than conduct an analysis. The experience recapitulates the book's argument.

As the theatregoers entered the rectangular room on the ground floor of a run-down building in New York's Lower East Side, they were asked to take a


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Creating the Self in the Contemporary American Theatre


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 244

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?