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Open access

Thomas Bronder

Abstract

The second part in the 1284 Book of Games of Alfonso X. contains the description of twelve medieval games of dice. Certain information on the amount and timing of bets of the players are only very briefly displayed and are completely missing in several games. The exact course of such games is therefore unknown. What did the players know about their chances of rolling dice and how they could use them when playing the dice? In order to imagine the process of betting for gain, the characteristics of these games of dice are examined and compared with contemporary games of chance.

Open access

Akane Okoshi and Alex de Voogt

Abstract

The American Museum of Natural History (amnh) has three mancala game boards in their collection that are connected with Suriname, formerly Dutch Guyana. One of these samples is exhibited in the amnh African Peoples Hall as part of a section on African Slavery and Diaspora. The games of Suriname were described by Melville J. Herskovits in an article dating to 1929, but the relation of these three boards with Herskovits has remained unclear. With the help of the Herskovits archives, the archival records of amnh and recent research on Surinamese Maroon communities, the history of these three boards is shown to be intimately linked with Herskovits’ broader intellectual project.

Open access

Amit S. Deshmukh

Abstract

Playing of sedentary games with dice and playing board games have had a major role in the Indian culture since at least 3000 BCE. This is shown by archaeological sites and early literary references in the Rig-Veda, Mahabharata and other texts. Some of these games have survived in the form of boards, game pieces, dice and cards. Apart from actual sets, the traces of board games can also be found in Hindu rock cut temples. These sculptures and paintings appear across the medieval period. The list is exhaustive. The game play also finds its presence on numerous temple floorings, carved or inscribed. Why would somebody carve these board games on these spaces? Interestingly, throughout history, some board games have increased its popularity, and some have disappeared from artistic expressional record. How did one board game overtake the other in terms of its popularity in the later phases of history? What made these games socially acceptable and popular? Where were these games played? What was the space context? The paintings dominantly show royal houses, court rooms as spaces. Were there special pavilions used for game playing by Indian royals? In India board games were traditionally played at ground level. With growing European influence in the subcontinent in the 18th century, local elites adopted the western custom of elevated furniture for board games. Did this change the space context?

The paper thus tries to evolve parameters to analyze the impact of board games on spaces and would throw light on the “space context” with reference to Indian board games tracing it to the contemporary time.

Open access

Thierry Depaulis

Abstract

Besides the ubiquitous patolli—a race game played on a cruciform gameboard—the Aztecs had obviously a few other board games. Unfortunately their names have not been recorded. We owe to Diego Durán, writing in the last quarter of the 16th century from local sources, some hints of what appears to be a “war game” and a second, different race game that he calls ‘fortuna’. A close examination of some Precolumbian codices shows a rectangular design with a chequered border, together with beans and gamepieces, which has correctly been interpreted as a board game. Many similar diagrams can be seen carved on stone in temples and public places, from Teotihuacan (c. 4th-7th century AD) to late Toltec times (9th-12th century AD). Of this game too we do not know the name. It has tentatively been called quauhpatolli (“eagle- or wooden-patolli”) by Christian Duverger (1978)—although this seems to have been the classic post-conquest Nahuatl name for the game of chess—or “proto-patolli”, and more concretely “rectángulo de cintas” (rectangle of bands) by William Swezey and Bente Bittman (1983).

The lack of any representation of this game in all Postcolumbian codices, as painted by Aztec artists commissioned by Spanish scholars interested in the Aztec culture, is clear indication that the game had disappeared before the Spanish conquest, at least in central Mexico. No Aztec site shows any such gameboard. Fortunately this game had survived until the 20th (and 21st!) century but located in the Tarascan country, now the state of Michoacán. It was discovered, unchanged, in a Tarascan (Purepecha) village by Ralph L. Beals and Pedro Carrasco, who published their find in 1944. At that time Beals and Carrasco had no idea the game was attested in early codices and Teotihuacan to Maya and Toltec archaeological sites. In Purepecha the game is called k’uillichi.

There is evidence of an evolution that led to a simplification of the game: less tracks, less gamesmen (in fact only one per player, while k’uillichi has four), and less ‘dice’. From a “complex” race game, the new debased version turned to be a simple single-track race game with no strategy at all. It is possible that this process took place in Michoacán. (A few examples of the simplified game were found in some Tarascan villages.) Also it seems the widespread use of the Nahua language, which the Spanish promoted, led to calling the game, and/or its dice, patol. As it was, patol proved to be very appealing and became very popular in the Mexican West, finally reaching the Noroeste, that is, the present North-West of Mexico and Southwest of the United States.

This seems to have been a recent trend, since its progress was observed with much detail by missionaries living in close contact with the Indians along what was called the ‘Camino Real’, the long highway that led from western Mexico to what is now New Mexico in the U.S. The Spanish themselves seem to have helped the game in its diffusion, unaware of its presence. It is clearly with the Spaniards that the patol game, sometimes also called quince (fifteen), reached the American Southwest and settled in the Pueblo and the Zuñi countries.

It is there that some newcomers, coming from the North or from the Great Plains, and getting in contact with the Pueblos in the 18th century, found the game and took it over. The Kiowas and Kiowa Apaches are noted for their zohn ahl (or tsoñä) game, while the Arapahos call it ne’bäku’thana. A careful examination of zohn ahl shows that it has kept the basic features of an ancient game that came—in Spanish times—from Mexico and may have been popular in Teotihuacan times. Its spread northward—through the Tarascan country—is, hopefully, well documented.

Open access

Bernd-Peter Lange

Open access

Ján Sabol

Abstract

The study reflects on divergence between theatre and film. It also points out that the difference ought to be sought in ontology, in the principle of the coding of actual reality by using film or theatrical language. In the perception of a syncretic work that connects the elements of both types of art, the viewer a priori perceives theatrical mimesis (and also the execution of theatrical mise-en-scène) as an “alien” element used by the film “language” of a concrete cinematographic work. The perception of such a work assumes the viewer’s readiness and willingness to accept a hybrid work, which inevitably calls for a different manner of decoding the narrative offered. If we are to summarise the hitherto knowledge which elucidates the relationship between theatre and film (in the manner in which actual reality is mimicked and in the subsequent execution of theatrical and film mise-en-scène), it may be concluded that, as opposed to film, theatre enjoys a unique opportunity to imitate actual reality by performing which takes place in real time and in direct interaction between the actor and the viewer. The film conveys this using filmmaking devices.

Open access

Dáša Čiripová

Abstract

The study explores the art of performance and happening in Slovakia from the 1960s, and its influence on theatre. Given its interdisciplinarity, the first part is dedicated to the vantage points of performance in Slovakia: action art and related names. Action art had significant influence on later theatre performative forms. The second part focuses in detail on actions and performances by the company Temporary Society of Intense Experience, Balvan Theatre and on the artist Miloš Karásek.

Open access

Zuzana Spodniaková

Abstract

The study presents an overview and analysis of contemporary Moscow productions inspired by the personality and work of the legendary Russian actor and poet of the latter half of the 20th century, singer and songwriter Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (1938 – 1980). The authoress covers both the older productions which have been on the repertoires of theatres for several years and more recent productions staged this year on the occasion of the artist’s unlived 80th birthday. Researching on the productions by different theatre makers, staged by various theatres and drama ensembles, points at the importance and up-to-dateness of the creative legacy of Vladimir Vysotsky and at the significance of him as a personality that has become a legend and a component part of the cultural history of Soviet and post-Soviet eras. The productions constitute a significant part of the unwavering cult of his personality.

Open access

Jan Motal

Abstract

The presented article is a polemic with Alain Badiou’s concept of theatre-politics isomorphism. The author adapts the basic elements of Badiou’s philosophy (event, void Ø, truth etc.), provides an interpretation of his theory of theatre and presents crucial critical arguments to reveal the reductionism of Badiou’s philosophy. Subsequently, the author presents his alternative theory of theatre based on this ground. The article assumes that theatre performance is a live, truthful event, an encounter of humans experiencing an imagined Utopia based on their structural homology (shared materiality, phylogenetic archetypal memory, existentiality). The argument is supported by the recent research in neuroscience.

As the article argues, this Utopia has its social and political significance. The theatre is not political only if it constructs both a political body (crowd, public) and a discourse, as Badiou suggests. The author concludes that theatre is inherently political because its imaginative nature, which allows humans to experience the utopical attachment exceeding the subject-object boundaries. This imagined Utopia with its critical and anticipative power allows people to transcend their singularity to interpersonal and intercultural dialogue and universality, and it provokes their political imagination (in the sense of David Graeber). The author employs Erika Fischer-Lichte’s concept of performativity to present theatre performance as an event.

Open access

Expressional Bipolarity of Theatre

(Selected Case Studies in Contemporary Theatre)

Miroslav Ballay

Abstract

The author contemplates expressional bipolarity of contemporary art of theatre. He is personally interested in whether theatre has yet a chance to purify spectators. He explores theatre in terms of reception, and also focuses on the methods of addressing the themes of the day. Using case studies of selected productions in contemporary theatre, he reflects on the intentions of a number of theatre directors whose particular intention is for the theatre to provoke or manipulate spectators.