a beautiful but bleak condition – 4/3/14

Schechner – Betw. Theater and Anthro


“It’s as hard to write about performance, theory or practice, as it is to put ideas, as such, onstage, for the writing is always indirect, representative, the map not the territory. And the stage always is there, physical first, a gaping territory only vaguely pointing elsewhere. But both writing and performing create negativity. Emily Dickinson: ‘Wonder is not precisely knowing, / And not precisely knowing not, / A beautiful but bleak condition.’ Performance theory, when well done, takes into account both the beauty and the bleak condition—as well as the negativity, full of the Japanese Mu, pregnant pause, full emptiness, that the stage so totally is. As Artaud said, the stage is first a physical space waiting to be filled. But when the stage is full, it is filled with propositional emptiness. All effective performances share this “not—not not” quality (see chapters 2 and 3). Performer training and workshops focus their techniques not on making one person into another but on encouraging the performer to act in-between identities; in this sense, performing is a paradigm of liminality. And what is liminality but literally the ‘threshold,’ the space that both separates and joins spaces: the essence of in-betweenness?”


Silence 2014: an effort towards global mu; turning the world into a Dickenson dash –

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