Czech Theatre Review

2010, vol. 21, n. 1 – peer-revied articles

Patrice Pavis: Present state of research in performance analysis: theatre studies or performance studies?

The article gives an account of the research on performance analysis in the last 10 or 15 years (since the French publication of L’analyse des spectacles, in 1996). It acknowledges the arrival of performance studies and its influence on the way we now see Western theatre and cultural performances. In spite of a loss of interest for theory in Theatre and Performance studies, the new paradigm of performativity brings hopes and limitations. Sexual and gender identity, performative writing are examples of this new way of looking at a performance. This leads to a comparison of Theatre and Performance Studies and encourages us to overcome the usual dichotomies of these two fields of activity and of research. In the nineties, performance analysis has been influenced and enriched by anthropology, cognitivism, vectorial analysis, phenomenology, kinesthetics, theory of effects and affects. As an example of these new ways of looking at a performance, the choreographic work by the Australian artist Frances Barbe, Fine Bone China, allows us to test the feminist and performative approach of a possible performance analysis. It also attempts to explain the force and fascination experienced by the viewers of this piece.

Martin Pšenička: Not only about Lehmann’s postdramatic concept.

The presented treatise examines a current state of theory and theatre studies in the Czech Republic within the framework of Hans-Thies Lehmann’s seminal work Postdramatic Theatre (1999). The paper is divided into six subsections. The first subsection reconstructs a school performance/site specific project. In respect to the performance, the second subsection addresses an inefficacy of contemporary critical/theoretical language, which is informed by semiotic analyses. The third part, Aesthetic of Unintentional, re-visits Jan Mukařovský’s concept of “unintentional”, which undermines a general notion of artwork as an autonomous sign and as such offers a possible approach for the articulation of contemporary theatre practises. The fourth chapter explores a methodological background of various approaches that seek to describe contemporary performance art and theatre, including both Braun’s concept of “the second theatre reform” and Goldberg’s notion of “performance art”. The last two chapters focus on Lehmann’s postdramatic concept and its post-semiotic limitations.

Gabriele Sofia: Theatre as a Living System. Neurocience, Biology and Complexity in the Study of Actor-Spectator Relationship.

In the late 70s as well as in the early 80s the theatrical cultures and the sciences of the living world experienced a period of great exchanges and powerful contaminations. In the same years the ISTA and the Performance Studies rose while the Colloque sur les aspects scientifiques du theatre was organized in Karpacz, in 1979. Notwithstanding that period has been widely underestimated by the following theatrical studies, it was actually the moment when several western Cartesian dichotomies were overcome (body/mind, “exact” sciences/”humanist” sciences, etc.). Nowadays the studies and the experiences of those years are to be considered a great heritage whose value is clearly evident in the current exchanges and projects among the theatrical cultures, the neurosciences, biology and the sciences of complexity. According to these we can refer to the discovery of the mirror neurons and its involvement in the theatrical cultures.

Petra Ježková: Besieged by the Nation of Playwrights. From the Writing Desk of the National Theatre Dramaturge at the end of the Nineteenth Century.

The sheer amount of plays submitted to the office of the dramaturge of the Prague National Theatre in the first years of its existence appears, from today’s perspective, remarkable at the very least; until at least the end of the nineteenth century submissions arrived in, compared to the present situation, insurmountable, even unbelievable numbers. Most of these plays, that is those rejected, and thus unproduced and mostly also unpublished ones, remain a mystery, and so do their authors. The estate of Jan Lier, the last dramaturge of the early era of the National Theatre under the directorship of F. A. Šubert, contains a large number of letters from authors seeking to conquer the boards of the leading Czech theatre scene by their dramatic attempts. From Jan Lier’s four-year term in the office of the dramaturge (1896–1900), altogether 112 of such failed attempts can be documented. The analysis of these letters provides us with interesting evidence of not only the various pitfalls of the dramaturge’s mission, but also of the significant surge of creative ambition, stimulated by the “Czech theatre temple” for a long time after its foundation.

Vojtěch Poláček: Co-operative for Brno National Theatre. Unfulfilled Endeavours for the New Theatre House.

The paper discusses the history of Co-operative for Brno National Theatre (1881–1949). Over the course of its existence, the Co-op strived to realize a project concerning the foundation of a representative theatre house for Brno National Theatre. The paper intends to describe a dynamic cultural-politic development in Brno, which occurred in the late years of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and continued up to the advent of Communism. Analyzing proposals submitted to two design competitions (1910–1913, 1936–1937), the paper also demonstrates transformations of both visual arts and theatre practise.

Jan Šotkovský: For God’s Sake – We Don’t Do That! Hedda Gabler in Three Times (Černín – Smoček – Mikulášek)

The paper presents a comparative analysis of three recent productions of H. Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler: Ladislav Smoček’s production in Činoherni klub, Prague (1996); Zdeněk Černín’s production in Městské divadlo, Brno (1996); Jan Mikulašek’s production in Moravskoslezské národní divadlo, Ostrava (2008). The paper focuses on both dramaturgic and visual aspects of the productions with the particular interest in the interpretation and formation of characters. In the concluding section, the paper summarizes overall production styles and interpretative strategies of each production. It also raises questions regarding the topicality (and the possible problems with „updating“) of ideological background of the play within the contemporary social and theatre context. Back