Divadelní revue (Czech Theatre Review) 2013 · no 3

vol. 24 · December 2013 · no 3

Summary

The third, internationally-oriented issue of 2013’s Theatre Review, dedicated to the Czech theatre theorist Ivo Osolsobě (26. 3. 1928 Brno – 27. 9. 2012 Brno), focuses on the various topics related to theatre theory and performance analysis. In her essay “Ivo Osolsobě’s Theory of Ostension and the Prague School”, Herta Schmid presents Ivo Osolsobě’s concept of ostension, which he wanted to become a universal basis of semiotics, in the context of cybernetics and theory of models. The paper concentrates on Osolsobě’s sometimes critical views on Otakar Zich, Jan Mukařovský and Jiří Veltruský, who were closely connected with the Prague School. In addition, Schmid looks at the current “interactive” theatre that reveals Osolsobě’s theory of ostension as a useful additional tool for the analysis of this theatrical genre. Czech literary theorist and historian Emil Volek discusses in his “Theatrology an Zich: Classical Prague Theater Theory Today” Otakar Zich’s “theory of drama as theater” (mainly his Estetika dramatického umění, 1931), his reception by the Prague structuralism of the 1930s, and his place in the history of Czech aesthetics. The confrontation with the Prague School of literary structuralism and semiotics manifests numerous paradoxical entanglements of continuities, differences, and misunderstandings. The study strives to de-psychologize and de-semiotize Zich’s theory, which is, then, related with Edmund Husserl’s work on meaning in his path-breaking Logische Untersuchungen (1900). Yana Meerzon examines in her essay “Back to the Future: On Structural Approaches of Drama and Performance Analysis Today” a number of recent works in theatre semiotics, which demonstrate diversity of today’s methodologies of performance analyses. Moreover, the paper re-introduces Jan Mukařovský’s notions of aesthetic function, intentionality and unintentionality that illustrate how Mukařovský’s structural phenomenology preceded E. Fischer-Lichte’s aesthetics of the performative. German theatre theorist and historian Matthias Dreyer’s essay “Landscape Plays: The Relationship Between Postdramatic Aesthetics and Myth” questions the ways through which postdramatic theatre is connected to “mythical aesthetics”, i.e. with the desire to renew and rethink myth. Regarding the collaboration between Robert Wilson and Heiner Müller, the article analyses the contemporary work on myth between archaic timelessness and critical genealogy. In their joint paper “Theatre as a Machine of Memory and Oblivion,” two Polish scholars, Małgorzata Sugiera and Mateusz Borowski, take issue with Marvin Carlson’s notion of “theatre as memory machine”. The present paper is to demonstrate the basic strategies of not only taking up the subject of memory and remembering, but primarily to capture the textual structures that turn the reception of the text into the process of recollection. The theoretical section includes two translations of studies from early 1980s that approach theatre from two indivisible positions – semiotical and phenomenological: Yuri Lotman’s essay “Semiotics of Stage” (1980) and Bert O. States’ “The Dog on the Stage: Theatre as Phenomenon” (1983). Martin Bernátek’s historical essay, included in the special section “Theatre and Film”, “Applaus for Images: Illustrated Lectures at the Stadttheater Brünn 1895–1916” analyzes public performances presented at the Brno Municipal Theatre between 1895 and 1916 that incorporated projection of images. The paper applies achievements and methods of so-called new film history and, subsequently, discusses theatre and cinematographic practices within the framework of theatre studies. The issue contains an interview with Lya Říhová (1928), theatre historian and encyclopaedist, called “Life Between Philology, Theatre Studies, and SK Slavia” (prepared by Markéta Trávníčková). Five reviews of recently published books accompanies Markéta Polochová’s a report on the conference Prague Semiotic Stage Revisited II organized by the Department of Theatre Studies, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno (Czech Republic).

editorial

theatre theory

Herta Schmid
Ivo Osolsobě’s Theory of Ostension and the Prague School


Emil Volek
Theatrology an Zich: Classical Prague Theater Theory Today


Yana Meerzon
Back to the Future: On Structural Approaches of Drama and Performance Analysis Today


Matthias Dreyer
Landscape Plays: The Relationship Between Postdramatic Aesthetics and Myth


Mateusz Borowski & Małgorzata Sugiera
Theatre as a Machine of Memory and Oblivion


Yuri Lotman
Semiotics of Stage (1980)

Bert O. States
The Dog on the Stage: Theatre as Phenomenon (1983)

Martin Bernátek
Applaus for Images: Illustrated Lectures at the Stadttheater Brünn 1895–1916


interview

Life Between Philology, Theatre Studies, and SK Slavia. Interview with a theatre historian and encyclopaedist Lya Říhová (Markéta Trávníčková)

reviews

Věra Ptáčková
On One School of Modern Thinking (Iva Mojžišová: Škola moderného videnia: Bratislavská ŠUR 1928–1939.)

Dalibor Tureček
About Prague-German Theatre From Within (Jitka Ludvová: Až k hořkému konci: Pražské německé divadlo 1845–1945.)

Barry Freeman
Ghostbusters: Theatre Aesthetics of the Unreal (Alice Rayner: Ghosts: Death’s Double and the Phenomena of Theatre.)

Filip Krajník
Searching for Shakespeare (Lost in the Forrest) (Martina Kastnerová: Shakespeare a teorie interpretace: Hledání adekvátního interpretačního přístupu.)

Jan Šotkovský
When we were the bosses (Daniel Hrbek: Budování divadla; Alexandr Gregar: Město a [jeho] divadlo: Příběh královéhradeckého divadelního pahorku; Jiří Šesták: Divadlo – kultura – podmínky: [osobní zkušenost].)

reports

Markéta Polochová
The Second Structuralist Fair in Brno (Prague Semiotic Stage Revisited II.)


Resumes of peer-reviewed articles

Herta Schmid
Ivo Osolsobě‘s Theory of Ostension and the Prague School.
In its first part the article presents Ivo Osolsobě’s concept of ostension, which he wants to become a universal basis of semiotics, in the context of cybernetics and theory of models. Cybernetics has a tradition in former Czechoslovakia connected with Jiří Klír and Miroslav Valach. This line has been overshadowed by the international reputation of the Prague School, where linguists, philosophers, specialists in philology and representatives of many arts discussed problems of semiotics on theoretical grounds opposite to cybernetics. The second part concentrates on Osolsobě’s sometimes critical views on Otakar Zich, Jan Mukařovský and Jiří Veltruský, who are closely connected with the Prague School. Osolsobě’s interest in these theorists is motivated by the theatrical aspect of ostension. This part of the article delivers also a critique on Osolsobě’s interpretation of Saint Augustine’s conception of ostension and his model of human communication. Finally a look at present “interactive” theatre reveals that Osolsobě’s theory of ostension in theatre can serve as a useful additional tool for the analysis of this theatrical genre.


Emill Volek
Theatrology an Zich: Classical Prague Theater Theory Today
Study focuses on Otakar Zich’s “theory of drama as theater” (mainly his Estetika dramatického umění, 1931), his reception by the Prague structuralism of the 1930s, and his place in the history of Czech aesthetics. The confrontation with the Prague School of literary structuralism and semiotics reveals numerous paradoxical entanglements of continuities, differences, and misunderstandings. The study strives to de-psychologize and de-semiotize Zich’s theory, which is, then, related with Edmund Husserl’s work on meaning in his path-breaking Logische Untersuchungen (1900). A phenomenological focus can better explain Zich’s disconcerting approach to his objects in numerous, and even apparently contradictory, “rounds”. Study, then, takes Zich at his own method and explores ways of possible contemporary interpretation (in confrontation with Ivo Osolsobě’s “ostension” and with “performance” theory) more faithful to his legacy.


Yana Meerzoon
Back to the Future: On Structural Approaches of Drama and Performance Analysis Today
The article looks at a number of recent works in theatre semiotics, which demonstrate diversity of today’s methodologies of performance analyses. It suggests that Prague School theatre theory interest in spectator/perceiver involvement in the processes of meaning making in a theatre performance holds relevance today. It helps analyze a traditional theatre performance, as well as performance as event, which prefers to confront the audience with the corporeality of the actor’s body in the given temporal-spatial configuration of a theatrical encounter. In the first section of this article, I describe the fundamental differences between a traditional performance (Rozik) and a performative event (Fischer-Lichte). In the second part, I re-introduce J. Mukařovský’s notions of aesthetic function, intentionality and unintentionality that illustrate how Mukařovský’s structural phenomenology serves as one of the precursors to E. Fischer-Lichte’s aesthetics of the performative.


Matthias Dreyer
Landscape Plays: The Relationship Between Postdramatic Aesthetics and Myth
Theatre has often been described as “landscape”, when the means of theatre (e.g. movement, language, light, sound) are perceived as being autonomous and equally important, so that the performance is structured decentrally, synchronously and non-hierarchically. Referring to Gertrude Stein's landscape plays, the metaphor of theatre as landscape was strongly developed by Heiner Müller and has served since the 1980s as an important category of experimental post-dramatic theatre. On closer examination it is noteworthy that the aesthetical discourse of the landscape arises primarily in connection to dramaturgies referring to myths. Thus, the article questions the ways through which postdramatic theatre is connected to "mythical aesthetics", i.e. with the desire to renew and rethink myth. Regarding the collaboration between Robert Wilson and Heiner Müller, the article analyses the contemporary work on myth between archaic timelessness and critical genealogy.


Mateusz Borowski – Małgorzata Sugiera
Theatre as a Machine of Memory and Oblivion
The text takes Marvin Carlson’s Haunted Stage, whose author posits that the reception in theatre described as a “memory machine”, is founded primarily on the performative act of collective recollection. However, the functioning of this machine changed together with the dominant cognitive models of memory and remembrance, as well as the metaphors used to conceptualize them. No wonder, a decisive change in the perception of memory was connected with the appearance of the new media of photography and film, as well as later with the invention of digital means of recording and the cyberspace. However, it was not only the theatre that out of necessity reacted to those paradigmatic shifts. The new media not only ousted the written text from the position of the vehicle of memory, but also changed the function of the text itself in the theatre. The present paper is to demonstrate the basic strategies of not only taking up the subject of memory and remembering, but primarily to capture the textual structures that turn the reception of the text into the process of recollection.


Martin Bernátek
Applaus for Images: Illustrated Lectures at the Stadttheater Brünn 1895–1916
The treatise analyzes public performances presented at the Brno Municipal Theatre between 1895 and 1916 that incorporated projection of images. The projection in the repertoire theatre, which preceded the institutionalization of cinematography, is examined as an example of the blending of theatre and film practices. The paper applies achievements and methods of so-called new film history and, subsequently, discusses theatre and cinematographic practices within the framework of theatre studies. The paper presents various practitioners and focuses on the cinematographic material and its specific implementation. Special attention is paid to the phenomenon of so-called “scientific theatre,” which usually belonged to the educational organizations Urania. One such scientific-theatre attempt was conducted in Brno theatre. Its relatively short period is characterized within the context of so-called attractive and contemplative modes of perception of early cinematography, and is explained in terms of the discourse of “noble entertainment.”