Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama

Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama

Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama

Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama

Excerpt

The stage is in total darkness. We hear, faintly at first, growing gradually louder and more insistent, a sung version of The Internationale. A projected image slowly emerges: the famous Tbi (You -- have you enrolled as a volunteer yet?D. S. Moore, Russia, 1920). It's held, red and challenging, for several moments. Cut suddenly, as a fast spot reveals POLYA bending over the bed to inject the writhing ANGELICA. ANGELICA shudders, quietens. POLYA cools her brow with a cloth. Music down. Excited hubbub of conference. Take out spot a second after the VOICE begins. Replace with [a projection of El] Lissitzky's 1920 abstract, With the Red Wedge Divide the Whites.

-- Trevor Griffiths, Occupations, opening stage directions

As its title suggests, Bodied Spaces is a book about two of drama's most essential and elusive elements: spatiality, through which plays establish fields of visual and environmental relationship, and the human body, through which these fields receive their primary orientation. It is also a book about theatrical watching, and about the spatial conjunction of bodies, objects, and other performance elements that constitute at once the object of such watching and the field in which it takes place. Bodied spatiality is at the heart of dramatic presentation, for it is through the actor's corporeal presence under the spectator's gaze that the dramatic text actualizes itself in the field of performance. These relationships are rendered explicit in the opening sequence of Trevor Griffiths's 1970 play Occupations. Exploiting the technical resources that have created new spatial possibilities for the contemporary theater, Griffiths's direction set the stage in dialogue with other media: painting, poster art, slide projection, music. Yet even as it foregrounds the technological . . .

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