It was in the mid-twentieth century that the independent theatrical form based entirely on improvisation, known now as improvisational/improvised theatre, impro or improv, came into existence and took shape. Viola Spolin, the intellectual and the logician behind the improvisational movement, first used her improvised games as a WPA worker running theater classes for underprivileged youth in Chicago in 1939. But it was not until 1955 that her son, Paul Sills, together with a college theater group, the Compass Players, used Spolin’s games on stage. In the 1970s Sills made the format famous with his other project, the Second City.
Since the emergence of improv in the US coincides with the renaissance of improvisation in theater, in this paper, I will look back at what may have prepared and propelled the emergence of improvised theater in the United States. Hence, this article is an attempt to look at the use of improvisation in theater and performing arts in the United States in the second half of the 20th century in order to highlight the various roles and functions of improvisation in the experimental theater of the day by analyzing how some of the most influential experimental theaters used improvisation as a means of play development, a component of actor training and an important element of the rehearsal process.
Paul Ricoeur declares that “being-entangled in stories” is an inherent property of the human condition. He introduces the notion of narrative identity—a form of identity constructed on the basis of a self-constructed life-narrative, which becomes a source of meaning and self-understanding. This article wishes to present chosen instances of life writing whose subjects resist yielding a life-story and reject the notions of narrative and identity. In line with Adam Phillips’s remarks regarding Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes (1975), such works—which I refer to as fragmentary life writing—emerge out of a profound scepticism about any form of “fixing” oneself and confining the variety and randomness of experience to one of the available autobiographical plots.
The primary example of the genre is Joe Brainard’s I Remember (1975)—an inventory of approximately 1,500 memories conveyed in the form of radically short passages beginning with the words “I remember.” Despite the qualified degree of unity provided by the fact that all the recollections come from the consciousness of a single person, the book does not arrange its content in any discernible order—chronological or thematic; instead, the reader is confronted with a life-in-fragments. Although individual passages could be part of a coming-of-age, a coming-out or a portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-man narrative, Brainard is careful not to let any of them consolidate. An attempt at defining the characteristics of the proposed genre will be followed by an indication of more recent examples of fragmentary life writing and a reflection on its prospects for development.
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Development of Aspect and Tense in Semitic Languages: Typological Considerations
A survey of pertinent literature reveals that many studies of aspect in Semitic languages do not pay a due attention to the crucial theoretical distinction of perfect and perfectivity. In this paper I will adopt the ‘chronogenetic' model of the morphosyntactic development of tense and aspect tested for the Indo-European languages (Hewson & Bubenik 1997) that allows five major aspectual categories to be distinguished (prospective, inceptive, imperfective, perfective, perfect) within ‘Event Time’. I will argue that the appearance in Arabic of the analytic double-finite perfect (of the type kun-tu katab-tu ‘I had written’) was the most significant innovation during the New Stage not to be found in the other Central Semitic languages. During the Middle Stage in Mishnaic Hebrew and Middle Aramaic the canonical progressive aspect was paradigmatized while Classical Arabic created its double-finite counterpart (kān-a ya-ktub-u ‘he was writing’). The significance of this approach to the study of the universals of tense and aspect will be evaluated.
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