Michael Issacharoff and Robin F. Jones
The title Perfoming Texts is intentionally polysemous. It can be taken to mean texts intended for performance, how to perform texts, or texts that themselves perform. "Texts" could be taken to mean the text of a play written by an author, the text of the director who has worked on the author's script and annotated it for his or her production, or the performance itself, understood as a language of sound, light, and movement, to be interpreted by the audience. The reach of meaning of the title is justified by our topic, which is the dynamic relation between script and performance, performance and reception.
The relation of text to performance is discussed by Patrice Pavis ("From Text to Performance"), Robin F. Jones ("A Medieval Prescription for Performance"), Michael Issacharoff ("Stage Codes") and even Richard Schechner ("Performance Orientations in Ritual Theatre") -- despite his corpus of unscripted performances (Ramlila and Yaqui Easter) -- if performance, inscribed in ritual, can be equated with regular theatre text. The nature of performance together with its relation to reception is discussed by John Styan ("The Mystery of the Play Experience"), Anna Whiteside ("Self-Referring Artifacts"), Jean Alter ("Decoding Mnouchkine's Shakespeare"), Keir Elam ("Much Ado About Doing Things with Words"), and, if one emphasizes the enactment of ritual (rather than its prescriptive force, as above), by Schechner. But Peforming Texts is more than a binary exploration of the text/performance dichotomy. The richness of the collection lies, at least in part, with the reader, who, like the reader of Marc Saporta novel, Composition No. 1 or Gustave Flaubert Trois Contes, or the performer of Pierre Boulez Third Piano Sonata, is free to choose not . . .