As a system of signs or of signifying practices aimed at engaging with another system of signs and of signifying practices, the one belonging to the stage, the performance text found its postdramatic equivalent in visual dramaturgy. The critical attention is directed at the image or at the perceived relationship between body, space, sound, light and objects. The mission of visual dramaturgy is represented by the association between the viewer and what is being viewed, the semiotics of the visual, post-narratology, the phenomenology of the body or of the gaze, serving a single aim: organising the action in order to have it performed.
Shortly before his death Hungarian writer and essayist Péter Esterházy (1950 – 2016) wrote the dramatic text of Mercedes Benz – Historical Revue in two parts for the Slovak National Theatre. In particular, it focuses on the famous noble family Esterházy’s influence in Slovakia. The author of the play had a very strong association with this matter. In his writing Péter Esterházy used a wide range of intertextualities: his literary texts are like the fabric spun from fibres of the autobiography of his own family history, but also fragments of Hungarian and Slovak history, legends, tales, as well as hearsay and myths. The interpreted dramatic text is remarkable because Esterházy, in addition to intertextual recycling of his own texts, also exploits the texts of the Hungarian classic author Imre Madách The Tragedy of Man. The author of the study has focused on clarifying the function, specification and effects of Esterházy’s intertextual writing.
In modern days, new acting spaces have become popular through the artistic expression and diversity of means they offer to the actors so that they get closer to their audience, sometimes ignoring the dramatic text and using it more like a pretext in a given context. The act of creation is now motivated by the possibility it offers its creator to artistically acquire new knowledge and discover new forms of expression to render aspects of contemporary life. Art is not a product, it is a perpetually changing process in time and space. All the artistic research arises from unanswered questions, from an unrefrainable need to express oneself in the new context: cinema, artistic films, documentary films, modern and contemporary performances, visual culture and associated culture, body and space, public space, video editing/processing.
This article explores a theatre performance (National Theatre Pécs, 2003, dir. Iván Hargitai) working with a 1999 Hungarian translation of Hamlet by educator, scholar, translator and poet Ádám Nádasdy as a structural transformation (Fischer-Lichte 1992) of the dramatic text for the stage. The performance is perceived as an intersemiotic translation but not as one emerging from a source-to-target one-way route. The study focuses on certain substructures such as the set design and the multimedial nature of the performance (as defined by Giesekam 2007), and by highlighting intertextual and hypertextual ways of accessing this performance-as-translation it questions the ‘of’ in the ‘performance of Hamlet (or insert other dramatic title)’ phrase. This experimentation with the terminology around performance-as-translation also facilitates the unveiling of a layer of the complex Hungarian Hamlet palimpsest, which, as a multi-layered cultural phenomenon, consists of much more than literary texts: its fabric includes theatre performance and other creative works.
The main objective of my article is to investigate the ways in which contemporary Anglophone drama and theatre actively employ diegetic and narrative forms, setting them in conflict with the mimetic action. The mode of telling seems to be at odds with the conviction not only about the mimetic nature of performance and theatre but also about the growing visuality of contemporary theatre. Many contemporary performances and dramatic texts expose the tensions between the reduction of visual representations and the expansion of the narrative space. This space offers various possibilities of exploring the distance between the performers and spectators, tensions between narrative time and place and the present time of performance, the real and the imagined/inauthentic/fake, traumatic memory and imagination. The active foregrounding of the diegetic elements of performance will be exemplified with reference to several contemporary plays and performances: my focus will be on the uses of epic forms in what can be called post-epic theatre, illustrated by Kieran Hurley’s Rantin (2013); the foregrounding of the diegetic and the undecidability of the fictional and the real, instantiated by Forced Entertainment’s performances (Showtime, 1996) and Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman (2003); and the narrative density and traumatic aporia of Pornography (2007) by Simon Stephens.
This article is a comparative review of performances of Western European and American authors in Slovak and Slovenian theatres in the two decades after World War II. First, we present a short historical context, comparing the political systems and cultural policies of both states. We define the importance of the selection of works for the repertoire(s) and then parallel them to the main characteristics, authors, and dramatic texts prevalent in that period. Second, we highlight the particularities of staging of the Western European and American authors in both cultural spaces, evaluate their importance, and explicitly determine the fundamental differences between the two theatre spaces and performing arts in the socialist system in general. Third, we expose the similarities and differences in the quantity and diversity of authors. This is done on the basis of the performances by institutional theatres, recorded in the repertoire databases of the respective countries. Everything deviating from the norm is located in a separate chapter, as a phenomenon, where we are looking for the reasons for (not) performing certain authors or poetics. The article functions as a review of the period, and seeks to shed light on theatre production in the Central European cultural area during the undemocratic socialist regime, regardless of basic differences between the two political systems.
Lithuanian theatre has always been known for its visual metaphors and dramaturgy of directorial images, where the language of literary text is translated into visual metaphors created on stage by a director. Due to this quality, some critics have argued that Lithuanian theatre has been demonstrating postdramatic characteristics for a long time. However, one should note that visual metaphors of modern Lithuanian theatre have been based on and controlled by literary text and never quite established a more autonomous and self-contained visuality. Dramatic text remained the point of departure whether the director chose to illustrate or concretise it, to transform or deform it. However, in post-Soviet Lithuanian theatre, these relations have been gradually turning discontinuous, their intensity often varied within the framework of the same performance. Fragmentary cracks, when images, departed from the roles of commentators or illustrators of textual meanings, turned into flashes of independent visions that were seen by the critics as an obvious shift towards a radical image-centric position or, to use the term of Hans-Thies Lehmann, postdramatic theatre. However, the recent performance Lokis (2017, Lithuanian National Drama Theatre) by Polish theatre artist Lukasz Twarkowski, produced twenty years after the initial introduction of the term postdramatic into the Lithuanian context, has paradoxically started a storm of divisive opinions in the Lithuanian theatre milieu. It became the focal point of discussions about the intrinsic character of Lithuanian theatre, especially its embedded attitudes towards drama text and acting—notoriously challenging factors for many international collaborations. The article analyses the ongoing debates about the term postdramatic theatre and its interpretations in Lithuanian theatre criticism, taking the example of Lokis as a case study.
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