Reinventing Drama: Acting, Iconicity, Performance

Reinventing Drama: Acting, Iconicity, Performance

Reinventing Drama: Acting, Iconicity, Performance

Reinventing Drama: Acting, Iconicity, Performance

Synopsis

This book draws together critical and literary theories and neuropsychology to provide a new artistic process for dramatic performance called iconicity. The premise of iconicity is that in dramatic performance actors use the same neural architecture that people use in their daily lives to execute events. The core of this neural architecture is the brain's capacitiy for internally generating, reduplicating, storing, and triggering imagery. The process of iconicity draws on the actor's use of this mental capacity. This book explores the principles of iconicity and develops them as a process for acting and staging dramatic performances. The first part of the book provides a theoretical explanation of iconicity. It offers a redefinition of acting and includes an examination of the ideology of acting and the role emotion plays in acting. The second part of the book is practically oriented. It explains dramatic structure in relation to iconicity, and it defines the four strands of the process: events, dialogue, interactions, and performance.

Excerpt

The principles of dramatic performance and the process of iconicity presented here were developed bit by bit over many years. I began acting in the theatre when I was a child and later received formal training in the Method and the Stanislavski System. I began directing in 1969, at first following the conventions of modern, Western, theatre practice. of course, the avant-garde of that period also influenced my work. in the 1970s, I recognized and so began to focus on the fundamental dilemma of resolving in performance the inherent conflict between drama as a verbal-literary text and as a visual-theatrical event. in 1988, while participating in a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar with W. J.T. Mitchell, author of Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology, I first formulated the process of iconicity as a solution to the verbal-visual and literary-theatrical conflict. However, before launching directly into my explication of this process, I would like to provide a brief orientation to this book, its approach and content.

The core topic of this book is dramatic performance, by which I mean the performance by actors of scripted plays. Consequently, I do not directly deal with a variety of other theatre practices. For example, I do not treat the Japanese Kabuki theatre or other non-Western forms of performance with which I have had no actual experience. These limitations are in no way meant to imply that I believe such other forms and approaches are invalid. Obviously, they are not. This book does not delve into those other areas, because it is a reflection of my work in the theatre doing plays with actors. My ideas have grown out of the theatre that is predominant in my culture and that I have been most interested in exploring. However, this book will interest those theatre artists whose approaches it does not directly explore; for I present ideas that are fundamental to the whole notion of performance, and therefore they are essentially relevant to all forms of theatre.

On the other hand, this book does explore a broad range of plays -- from Greek tragedy to Shakespeare to Romantic tragedy, from Henrik Ibsen to William Inge . . .

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