Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A Cheeky Peek

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This is theatre - the art of looking at ourselves.
Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-actors (1992)

Boal's creation myth of theatre conjures the vision of the birth of performance as a response to a human birth: a mother, realising that her child has become separate from her, 'emptied herself' and, at that moment 'she was at one and the same time Actor and Spectator'. By uniting the role of performer and audience in a single person, Boal 'sees the essence of theatre... in the (self-) consciousness' (Auslander, 1997)..

Michael Billington, promoting his book , claims that theatre is particularly adept at reflecting changing social customs: he traces the changes in British society by reflecting on the various plays that he has reviewed over the years. While the notion that art expresses it infrastructure is a commonplace, the rise of instrumentalism (that is, the use of art to encourage certain values) recognises that theatre is in a dialogue with society and can lead to change. 

These sociological interpretations, however, seem to accept the self-consciousness of Boal's description without necessarily emphasising that the looking itself is not merely spectatorship, but a potential site of self-critique.

Something about criticism being a review of the self?

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