Eugenio Barba

Antonin Artaud and Overcoming “Intellectual Stupor”

2 posts in one night! Here we go..

I just finished a chapter from The Twentieth Century Performance Reader by Antonin Artaud. It is becoming apparent to me that a big handful of theatre artists reject psychological theatre and seek a higher, truer form of expression for the stage. Artaud expresses that we are stuck in an “intellectual stupor” in theatre and wanted theatre “through its immediacy, to embrace the non-verbal elements of consciousness, and to arouse powerful therapeutic emotions in the audience” (p 28). He sought revolution and discomfort in his audiences. He wishes to access the psyche in a larger-than-life and dream-like way and to affect the masses. I love and admire this. Artaud felt this in the first half of the twentieth century, I still feel it today. It also makes me think of the Barba reading. Barba wrote, “After working together many hours a day for many years, it is not my words but perhaps only my presence that can say anything” (p 42).

This is actually something I intuitively sought during a solo performance class I took my junior year of college. My goal of creating that ten-minute piece was to communicate through imagery rather than through explanation. I achieved this by zipping myself up in a suitcase, tying knots around my abdomen, and lighting candles around the stage. Each of these actions was my way of externalizing my emotional, psychological, inward experiences and stories. I felt talking about my story was not enough, it wouldn’t capture it quite right or nearly fully. So, I sought “fiery, magnetic imagery” and “unforgettable soul therapy” as an alternative and actually more effective mode of expression (p 25). Again, I am excited to find my intuitive desires in the works of other artists. These thoughts and ambitions exist in many minds! What a joy to find like-minded people.

Artaud says, “Our sensibility has reached the point where we surely need theatre that wakes us up heart and nerves” (p 25). I definitely agree and need to remember this for my project. I do not want to stand on stage and talk about my experience. Why would anyone care? I know I have a lot to say, but I am still sort of figuring out exactly what those things are and how I want to share them. I am really drawn to the idea of people/land relationship, ancestors, and how knowledge lives in places as well as people. Perhaps I could use the mode of Aboriginal story telling in order to tell my story.

Now, to keep reading and dreaming… Please feel free to email me if you have any input or response!

Ariana

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Back to the Project / Reading Eugenio Barba

I am back to blogging! I have taken a few steps back for the past couple of months, but now I am back on the project. The traveling is over, reflecting has been practiced, and now it is time to start researching styles of theatre for me to present my piece. I am brainstorming how my time traveling lends itself to the ultimate goal: the performance.

Today I began reading excepts from The Twentieth Century Performance Reader, edited by Michael Huxley and Noel Witts, which my mentor, Gretchen, assigned me. I began with a chapter on Eugenio Barba, an Italian/Norwegian theatre theorist and director. He founded the International School of Theatre Anthropology, which really excites me because I had no idea this field already existed! Something he wrote actually reminded me a lot of my motivations for this performance project. He wrote, “Like a melting pot in which the most disparate metals fuse, so inside me at the outset I tried to blend together the most diverse influences, the impressions which for me had been the most fertile” (p 39). Though he is speaking of different influences than those that apply to my project, I too feel as though I am drawn to diverse areas of study for reasons I am not necessarily conscious of, but for an inner need that I must seek to fulfill.

What I am currently working on is research for HOW to present my piece. I have decided to narrow my “performance project” into the category of “solo performance.” Right now Gretchen has me researching different methods and approaches to theatre, which will guide me in the creation of the piece. I have a lot of content, but now is the time to find the structure for communicating it.

Something that I think of often from my trip is when a man told me a story of his friends’ father. He said, “Black fella, white fella, yellow fella, pink fella. You cut-a the skin, we all the same.” I think I want this to be one of the major pinpoints of my piece. I will most likely use characters loosely based off of those people I met on my trip. One of the challenges I am facing is how to make my research in Australia relevant to an American audience. I think I can illuminate that bridge by bringing my attention back to the reason I myself was drawn to this project in the first place: I am drawn to the Indigenous knowledge and spirituality. I think in America too there is landscape, history, indigenous knowledge, and spiritual life that has direct parallels to the Aboriginals in Australia.

Now to continuing reading . . . I will be posting my responses over this weekend. 🙂

Thank you for reading along!

Ariana