Theatre and Violence

Theatre and Violence

Theatre and Violence

Theatre and Violence

Excerpt

Shortly after noon on Tuesday, 24 March, just ten days before the opening of the Symposium on Theatre and Violence held at the University of Virginia 2-4 April, two young boys (ages thirteen and eleven) armed with high-powered hunting rifles ambushed and killed four of their classmates and a teacher at a Jonesboro, Arkansas, middle school. Within the hour the tragedy had begun to be "mediatized," as network commentators interviewed law enforcement personnel and witnesses, and camera crews shot the grim remains of the slaughter--a sweater on the grass, an abandoned book bag, a lunch box, pools of blood on a sidewalk. And by the evening news the pundits had already begun to ask the "tough," analytical questions: What prompted the boys to do it? What had influenced their thought? Why didn't their moral code(s) prohibit such an action? What role did the media play in their attitudes toward violence? The symposium took place in the shadow of this massacre, and even though the events at Jonesboro were never once mentioned during the conference, the discourse and debate during the three days in Charlottesville was necessarily "framed" by this and similar tragedies and the prevalence of violence in our culture.

The conference was not an attempt to offer solutions to the problem of cultural violence but rather an effort to understand the nature of "represented" violence and then perhaps to begin to comprehend the theatre's role(s) and/or complicity in a culture of violence (or, at best, a culture that tolerates violence). In this regard anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes's introductory article examines violence as an all-too- prevalent cultural phenomenon. In the second section of the journal, Rhetorical and Historical Perspectives, Andrea Nouryeh, Lesley Ferris . . .

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