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Studies In Theatre And Performance: Volume: 28 | Issue: 2

Studies in Theatre and Performance fosters a progressive forum to explore the nuances of theatre practice. The journal provides a critical scope to include other related disciplines in its scrutiny...




Volume 28 Number 2 – 2008 Articles 91–110 Brecht and the disembodied actor Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley 111–126 Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ Mike Ingham 127–145 Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty military exercise to twentieth-century actor training protocol Daniel Mroz 147–159 ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations in Susannah Cibber’s letters Helen Brooks Notes and Queries 161–182 Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance practice Kay Savage 183 Aesthetic realism ISSN 1468-2761 28.2 Studies in Volume Twenty Eight Number Two Theatre & Performance Studies in Theatre & Performance | Volume Twenty Eight Number Two Studies in Theatre & Performance Reviews 185–194 Reviews by Frances Babbage, Colin Chambers, Peter Thomson, Graham Ley and Kate Adams intellect 9 771468 276009 28 intellect Journals | Theatre & Performance ISSN 1468-2761 STP-28-2-00-FM 4/18/08 1:19 PM Page 89 Studies in Theatre and Performance Volume 28 Number 2 Studies in Theatre and Performance is the official publication of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments in the UK. It incorporates Studies in Theatre Production, which had been a leading forum for the analysis of theatrical practice, processes and performance for a decade. The journal is now published three times a year. We encourage the submission of articles which are not only descriptive of practical research, but which delineate the ongoing analysis that formed a part of that research. Articles may also describe and analyse research undertaken into performance pedagogy. They are particularly welcome when all this is related to broader theoretical or professional issues. Editor Peter Thomson Dept. of Drama University of Exeter Thornlea New North Road Exeter EX4 4LA UK +44 (0)1392 264580 [email protected] Associate Editors The SCUDD Website Home Page is at: Anuradha Kapur National School of Drama, India Editorial Board Laurence Senelick Christopher Balme, University of Amsterdam, Holland Christopher Baugh, University of Leeds, UK David Bradby, Royal Holloway College, University of London, UK Christie Carson, Royal Holloway College, University of London, UK Kennedy Chinyowa, University of Zimbabwe Jim Davis, University of Warwick, UK Steve Dixon, Brunel University, UK Greg Giesekam, University of Glasgow, UK Gerry Harris, University of Lancaster, UK Dee Heddon, University of Glasgow Kirti Jain, National School of Drama, India Derek Paget, University of Reading, UK Meredith Rogers, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia Glendyr Sacks, University of Haifa, Israel Elizabeth Sakellaridou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece Denis Salter, McGill University, Montreal, Canada Tufts University, USA Reviews Editor Rebecca Loukes Dept. of Drama University of Exeter +44 (0) 1392 262334 [email protected] Advisory Board Martin Banham, University of Leeds, UK Adrian Kiernander, University of New England, Australia Alison Oddey, University of Northampton Patrice Pavis, Université Paris 8, France Janelle Reinelt, University of Warwick, UK William Huizhu Sun, Shanghai Theatre Academy, China Julia Varley, Odin Theatre, Denmark Phillip Zarrilli, University of Exeter, UK Studies in Theatre and Performance is published three times per year by Intellect, The Mill, Parnall Road, Bristol, BS16 3JG, UK. 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English language. doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.91/1 Brecht and the disembodied actor Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley Abstract Keywords This article examines Brecht’s contribution to acting theory and the various claims and confusions that have surrounded this contribution when attempts have been made to impose unity upon his ideas or to re-inscribe his theory in light of his practice. Rather than get caught up in existing debates, our strategy is to examine the processes that Brecht describes as a problem of action or behaviour, to look for a practical method for the actor and to interrogate this method via reference to current ideas in the psychology of embodiment. In doing so, we contend that, although Brecht’s ideas about acting are (and have been historically) employed to legitimise a range of practices, they are, in their essence, problematic, as they depend upon an over-conceptualisation of the human being and a privileging of symbolic communication. acting Brecht and the Academy Can the approach to acting espoused by Brecht be practically implemented, and if so in what ways might this approach be said to differ from other forms of acting? It might be assumed that this question is already thoroughly exhausted, as ‘Brechtian’ acting often appears to circulate as standard currency for students, teachers and critics of theatre alike. The shorthand for Brecht is certainly well known: Brechtian acting is, ‘devoid of emotion, declamatory, rooted in broad physical caricatures with no basis in reality’ (Krause: 273). Alternatively, it is popularly held that, even if difficult to circumscribe in their own right, Brecht’s ideas about acting can at least be elaborated through reference to their opposition with Stanislavski’s system (Zarrilli: 225) or Strasberg’s method (Krause: 273). This ‘folk’ view of Brecht has significant prevalence, perhaps not least because it allows Brecht’s ideas to be rendered with a neatness that facilitates their handing down to successive generations of actors and students. However, though this version of Brecht may suit the exigencies of classroom, rehearsal or assessment, the generalisation it entails will be obvious to any but the most dilettante reader. Amid some sections of the critical establishment, this version of Brecht has of course been under challenge for some time. Eric Bentley drew attention to the dangers of creating binary oppositions between Brecht and Stanislavski as early as 1964 in his essay ‘Are Stanislavski and Brecht Commensurable?’ (although, ironically, at the same time, incorporating the binarism into his argument). Following Bentley, initiatives designed to expose the flaws that underpin accounts of STP 28 (2) 91–110 © Intellect Ltd 2008 91 psychology embodiment emotion consciousness STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 92 Brecht’s ideas – as simply antithesis to mimetic acting – have been numerous. These studies provide a more convincing portrait of Brecht by highlighting not only the problem of constructing binary oppositions but also by drawing attention to the fragmented nature of Brecht’s output. In this regard, Peter Brooker argues against the tendency to see Brecht’s work as fixed and unchanging, or to view it as ‘revered holy writ’ (Brooker: 185); Elizabeth Wright reminds us we are dealing, not with a closed system, but with ideas formulated over thirty years which are ‘scattered about his writings in the form of aphorisms, poetic fragments, working notes, and instructions’ (Wright: 25); and John Rouse draws our attention to the absence of the dominance of any single all-powerful acting technique, let alone the dominance of a global acting methodology (Rouse: 238), and identifies, on the contrary, ‘the application of virtually the full range of customary actor techniques’ (Rouse: 238). These studies have addressed some problems in the ‘folk’ conception of Brecht. In doing so, they have, however, done little to resolve the matter of what constitutes the Brechtian performer and, arguably, threaten to increase contention. A quick review of the literature certainly discloses a diversity of opinion. We thus, at once, find Brecht co-opted to reaffirm conventional mimetic forms through a theatre founded on ‘the truth of life and the warmth of the presentation of the role’ (Eddershaw 1994: 262); Brecht as advocate of heightened playing and ‘a theatre of rhetorical gesture and process’ (Baugh: 250); Brecht as rebel against self-indulgent performance and actors who will not subordinate themselves to the demands of the play (Hurwicz, cited in Eddershaw 1994: 262); and Brecht as the father of modern theatre, whose ideas, either alone (cf. Brooker: 194) or in combination with other practitioners (usually Artaud), ‘provide the basic structure of contemporary drama’ (Wright: 115). Most recently, Brecht has emerged as the key practitioner for anti-foundationalists or proponents of postmodern theatre, for whom Brecht is seen as providing a means of resisting, destabilising, or even dissolving Western Theatre tradition (cf. Diamond 1997). In such readings Brecht’s contemporary heirs are held to lie not in ‘theatre’ but in Performance Art, ‘where interpretation is banished from the stage’ (Baugh: 251) or experimental feminist performance (cf. Love 1995). As Michael Patterson points out, what we mean by Brechtian continues, then, to be variously misapplied, loosely defined and freely adapted to the point where it can seem to be rendered meaningless (Patterson: 273). Yet simultaneously it is commonplace for the notion of Brechtian acting to persist as a form that can be absolutised and distinguished from customary, mimetic or historical forms of acting. Can we get beyond this confusion? As Michael Patterson has it, can we get beyond using Brecht’s ideas as a ‘critical hold all’ (Patterson: 273) which legitimises all kinds of practices or as an ‘exercise in public relations’ (Patterson: 275)? This article seeks to identify the limits of Brecht’s theories about acting. We explore the models of performance that Brecht advocates and examine 92 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 93 the relationship between approach and function that he expounds. In doing so, we address the issue of ‘Brechtian’ acting, not only as a philosophical problem, but also as a problem of action or behaviour, and ask whether or not Brecht provides a practical method for the actor. In confronting these issues, we argue that there are clear reasons why Brecht’s theory is over-interpreted and/or misunderstood, and suggest that the confusion Brecht provokes is not, as might be supposed, merely a consequence of contention over his theories, but rather because of the view of the human being that he adopts. In this respect, we contend that Brecht inherits a dualism which divorces mind from body and privileges representation over action (Clark; Dennett; Damasio 1994). Although privileging the mind and the human’s symbol-making capacities – and correspondingly underestimating physical processes – is, of course, complicit with a vein in twentieth-century epistemology, we argue that in fragmenting the human being’s emotional, physical and cognitive processes, Brecht inscribes a disjunctive view of the actor. Thus, just as it might be argued that the contradictions between Brecht’s political beliefs and personal behaviours reflect his deferral of engagement with the physical world, so Brecht’s misunderstanding of human communicative processes (his overconceptualisation of the human and his reliance on the symbolic order) produces a considerable problem for the practical realisation of a performance style. And, consequently, though Brecht’s ideas may appear theoretically compelling, they do little to negotiate the problem of acting as it exists in the real world. In addressing this matter, we turn to the growing literature in psychology that argues that dualist views need to be replaced by embodied views of cognition, which emphasise that thought is a practical activity (Cosmides and Tooby; Gibson; Glenberg; O’Regan and Noe), and that physical, emotional and mental capacities must be integrated if human communication and interpretation (e.g. the actor-audience relationship) is to be understood.1 Brecht’s theory It might be assumed that the inconsistencies in the reception of Brecht’s theories can be attributed to inconsistencies in the theories themselves, with these in turn attributed to the long period over which they are composed, a period during which Brecht steadily works his way through a series of models for the theatre. There is some truth here, as there are undoubtedly contradictions among Brecht’s ideas, and we will return to these later (cf. Wright: 25). Equally though, there is, in fact, very little disagreement about the most salient points that Brecht makes. In this regard, the same key propositions of Brecht emerge in criticism time and again. Foremost here is Brecht’s advocacy of an approach to acting and the stage that will demystify representation. This is encapsulated by Brecht’s muchcited reference to the importance of creating a shift from a theatre based upon emotion and catharsis to a theatre founded on critical detachment, in which ‘instead of sharing an experience the spectator must come to Brecht and the disembodied actor 93 1. ‘A growing body of opinion suggests that the view of cognition as distinct from perception, action, and emotion has no theoretical or empirical foundation . . . At the root of these distinctions is a fundamentally disembodied and dualist view of the mind. The notion of a central executor that is distinct from the information acquired from the environment . . . [and such] distinctions do not correspond to the structure of the nervous system or to how its functions are physiologically implemented’ (Barton 138–9). STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 94 grips with things’ (Brecht: 23). Central to this is, of course, the alienation effect, in which what is ‘natural’ will ‘have the force of what is startling’ (Brecht: 71). The alienation effect promises to transform the actor from ‘icon’ to signifier, with the actor no longer achieving impact by embodying a character but instead by presenting ‘the person demonstrated as a stranger’, with the character’s action placed firmly in parenthesis (Brecht: 125). A concise version of this view is supplied by Elin Diamond: In performance the actor alienates rather than impersonates her character, she quotes or demonstrates her character’s behaviour instead of identifying with it. Brecht theorises that if the performer remains outside of the character’s feelings, the audience may also and thus freely analyze and form opinions about the play’s ‘fable’. (Diamond 1997: 45) Theory set against practice The problem of these statements begins to emerge when we examine Brecht’s practice. Here it becomes clear that the aspects of the theory circumscribed above (abstract and philosophical ideas) do not square with the exigencies of Brecht’s rehearsal room. Eddershaw, indeed, suggests that, in rehearsal, the ambition articulated in Brecht’s theory is put to one side in place of pragmatism (Eddershaw 1994: 254). Weber (1994) also suggests that Brecht’s practice reveals an emphasis on results, and therefore only partial engagement with the mechanics or process via which results are achieved. Similarly, accounts of the detail of Brecht’s rehearsalroom work pull against the theory. Though the rehearsal techniques that have become known as Brechtian undoubtedly have utility, here, rather than a manifestation of ‘difference,’ we find techniques that are equivalent in many respects to, and in some cases overlap markedly with, those techniques developed by other twentieth-century European practitioners (such as behavioural analysis, role-swapping, narration, and use of metonymy; cf. Rouse; Eddershaw 1994, 1996). These techniques are less a reflection of a theoretical position than a means of textual analysis and a series of more or less inventive responses to the problem of staging the play. Beyond this, Brecht’s process is documented as relying to a startling extent on physical circumstance – what he calls the ‘taken for granted’ (Brecht: 235). This is particularly the case where performance is concerned. Although Brecht’s theory is elaborated by turning, as Stanislavski does, to what can be learnt from great actors, Brecht does not proceed from these actors to analysis, he rather seeks to appropriate their skills to support his theory, co-opting virtuoso performers to his cause. Furthermore, rather than reformists, the actors he favours are those actors we might identify with the traditions of melodrama and personality-based performance, actors marked by plangent vocal or physical characteristics or exceptional technique. Here we have Frank Wedekind, Hans Gaugler, Helene Weigel, Charlie Chaplin and Charles Laughton. Laughton presents a particularly 94 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 95 interesting case, as Brecht depicts him as a Gordon Craig-like renaissance figure, expresses reverence for Laughton’s ‘inimitable’, extra-theatrical qualities, and even praises Laughton for the very thing he is usually taken to oppose: his command of inspiration (Brecht: 163). Brecht’s lack of engagement with the practical problem of acting is further underlined by the dismissiveness with which he is reported to have treated the complexities of the actor’s task at various points in his career, as Thomson notes his failure to ‘appreciate, or even to recognise, the needs and vulnerabilities of actors’ (Thomson: 26) and his refusal to entertain the task-based difficulties they might experience (Thomson: 27). Brecht’s real-world relationship with actors might then be variously characterised as based on pragmatism, reverence or aloofness. Though these attitudes reveal diverse emphasis, in all cases there is a clear ambition in Brecht’s view of acting that does not find equivalence in practice. The pragmatic Brecht, concerned with the practicalities of acting, iterates other theatre forms or draws upon the extra-theatrical characteristics of actors to negotiate the gaps in his theory. The aloof or reverent Brecht meanwhile displays a tendency to over-regard ideal forms and to avoid engagement with the real-world complexities of realising a method. Bearing this in mind, it is important to treat with circumspection the suggestion that Brecht’s ideas are ‘workable’ if, or when, properly understood, as it is precisely this kind of attitude that underlies the confusion that actors and students experience when first introduced to Brecht.2 To develop this point further, it is helpful to turn our attention to the historical context that informs Brecht’s attitude towards the actor. Brecht’s Adversaries Brecht’s theatre is founded, like most twentieth-century theatre movements, on the rejection of existing paradigms (cf. Zarrilli: 222): specifically, according to Eddershaw, the style of acting he observed in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s (Eddershaw 1994: 254) which swamps the audience with emotionalism and thereby deceives or dupes them. Brecht thus contends: ‘We need to get right away from the old naturalistic school of acting, the dramatic school with its large emotions . . . This isn’t the kind of representation that can express our time’ (Brecht: 68). As will be evident, there is a marked overlap with Stanislavski’s project to rid the theatre of histrionic performance. However, as mentioned previously, whereas Stanislavski starts with real human beings and the rehearsal room and seeks to unpick what is going on through observation and experiment, Brecht begins with abstraction and theory and applies this to the physical realm. Furthermore, he favours, not an attack on anything as small as the over-emotionalism of a few German actors, but instead prefers large revolutionary language and opposition to the whole of Aristotelian theatre. This is, of course, a vague and generalised opponent (see Brecht: 87) which conflates a range of theatre forms (forms that Brecht subsequently both approves and disapproves). Brecht nevertheless maintains his opposition to the Aristotelian Brecht and the disembodied actor 95 2. We find Rouse suggesting that the dynamic between practice and theory is such that Brecht continually modifies or reconstitutes his theories on the basis of what he learns from his practice (Rouse: 228), and Brooker denying any retreat from theory into practice and claiming instead that there is a fully materialist, that is to say practical, accent to his theory: ‘the theory of gestic acting was a theory of performance’ (Brooker: 197). STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 96 on the basis of its collusion with emotionalism and illusion (Brecht: 78). Brecht’s attack on the actor convincing an audience that he or she really is the character (see Eddershaw 1994: 255) proceeds on this basis. Brecht characterises this theatre as one in which the actor loses himself in the role, persuading himself and thereby others that the actor is transformed completely into the character (Brecht: 137, 214). In contrast, Brecht seeks a theatre in which the actor is a demonstrator. There is however, something rather disingenuous about all this. Brecht’s account of realistic theatre is certainly guilty of the very thing for which he admonishes realistic theatre: conflating representation with reality. His reference to transformation – ‘the actor convinces himself and thereby the audience’ – in particular misrepresents or misunderstands realistic acting. The ontological confusion certainly stands out, for even though realism might exploit a certain iconicity, realism is never like reality. In psychological terms, the acted role is always just that, ‘acted’. Even if the stage environment, conscious effort and emotion provide enough information to convince the actor’s physical nature of the ‘truth’, there is still no need to think of the actor becoming, clinically, a different person. The actor may be immersed in an experience, but this does not create an independent, continuously experiencing self, free of the actor’s own ability to monitor and control events (cf. Metzinger). The enacted role is merely the ‘centre of narrative gravity’ (in Dennett’s terms). On these terms, for Stanislavski (for example) acting is a practical skill in terms of combining sensations and memories in, crucially, very active and dynamically varying contexts, but this does not diminish the fact that the actor always has control over the character and knows he is acting. Piscator makes a similar point, reminding us that all acting involves the self-conscious regard for what is shown to an audience or, put another way, demonstration (see Krause: 272). Brecht then sets himself against an ill-defined and highly questionable opponent. Aristotelian theatre is at once generalised, conflated with emotionalism and presented as accomplishing an ontological shift. Subsequently, Brecht is led into many tangles as he is forced to qualify exactly what it is that he opposes and how his theories play out in light of this. Furthermore, in making these qualifications, exactly what it is that he opposes is subject to considerable fluidity, drifting as it does between the extremes of heightened playing – the nonrealistic (cf. Brecht: 213) – and illusionism – too realistic (cf. Brecht: 142). Brecht in practice Given Brecht’s endeavour to work within the structures of mainstream theatrical practices, it is perhaps not surprising that, when we look for difference in his approach to acting we find, instead, re-inscription of existing theatrical approaches under the name of epic theatre. This is also the case if we turn away from theoretical issues to look at famous examples of Brechtian acting. To elaborate this point it is instructive to refer to perhaps the most famous of all Brecht’s acted roles: Helene Weigel’s performance in the Berliner Ensemble’s 1951 production of Mother Courage. For many 96 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 97 critics, Weigel’s Courage is the definitive Brechtian performance and it is thus much cited as an exemplar of the Brechtian approach. Furthermore, this exemplariness is held to adhere in one sequence of Weigel’s performance in particular: her use of a heightened and elaborate, yet also silent, scream to express grief at the death of her son Swiss Cheese. On these terms, according to Rouse, Weigel’s scream is an example of the ‘type of carefully elaborated physicality that the ensemble’s actors were expected to develop’ (Rouse: 236). He argues furthermore: The very physicality of the moment moves it beyond the level of naturalistic grief with which an audience can empathise. We are shocked, stunned, shaken by Courage’s grief, but we are not allowed to share it on the plane of petty emotional titillation. The technically accomplished extremity of Weigel’s acting, in short, defamiliarises Courage’s grief through the very demonstration of that grief. (Rouse: 236) This kind of elaboration of natural behaviour is thus held to capture Brecht’s idea of action formed on a large scale and ‘given a stamp that sinks into the memory’ (Brecht: 83), or alternatively, using Brecht’s terms, this may be identified as an example of the gestic principle taking over from ‘the principle of imitation’ (Brecht: 86). Though this may be critically exigent, when we examine the detail of what is described here, we find existing theatre technique – if not the nature of Western theatre itself - has been co-opted as Brechtian. As critics such as Victor Shklovsky and Peter Stockwell argue, the key feature of all literary and theatrical works is to make the familiar world appear new to us by focusing in, re-ordering, juxtaposing, and heightening reality. Thus, all theatre might be said to involve something very similar to the kind of defamiliarisation Rouse identifies: that is, all fictive experimenting with human experience opens up a space for reflection on the world and/or critique (cf. Shklovsky; Stockwell: 14). In terms of the specifics of Weigel’s approach, it is also difficult to detect where her approach departs from mimetic or Aristotelian theatre. For in mimetic theatre, the emphasis is also less upon faithfully depicting appearances than upon distilling and heightening ‘real life’. In both approaches, the actor seeks to communicate an idea, not by producing a character in totality but by drawing on certain correspondences with reality. Furthermore, we find the clearest account of this kind of metonymic process (the highly mediated selection from life) in Stanislavski’s system, where he defines the actor’s task, not as to reproduce or capture reality, but as to distil quotidian behaviour via ‘attention’ or ‘purpose’ of various kinds: that is, the actor must resist ‘amateurish rubber stamps’ (Stanislavski: 28) and traits that ‘happen to flash into the mind’ (Stanislavski: 30), and instead refine action, transforming reality into a poetical equivalent via the creative imagination (Stanislavski: 174). What we have in the practice of Brecht’s most famous actors is not an oppositional mode of performance, but rather reinscription Brecht and the disembodied actor 97 STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 3. In this regard, both practitioners draw heavily on the account of Brecht offered by Elin Diamond in her 1988 essay ‘Brechtian theory/feminist theory: towards a gestic feminist criticism’, and later in Unmaking Mimesis. However, although Diamond attests to the ‘stunning’ effects of Brechtian acting, she offers little in the way of practical method, conceding that ‘A-effects are not easy to produce’ (1997: 47). 2:37 PM Page 98 of existing theatre practices (Brecht: 199). If Brecht’s theory does (as Rouse suggests) follow behind practice, Brecht’s theorisation of his practice is primarily a reconceptualisation and redesignation of established techniques. Elizabeth Wright effectively sums up the point: What he calls ‘epic theatre’ is not a wilful invention displacing the ‘natural’ theatre, the point being that there is no such thing. Both epic and ‘natural’ theatre have demonstrators who show their interests, spectators who are caught up in the events and prepared to take the role of arbitrators. In each case there is an interplay of art and life: the experience is ‘repeated’ and theatricalised, rather than imitated as if it were happening for the first time. (Wright: 31–32) Contemporary Brechtian performers What, though, if we look at the area where Brecht’s contemporary advocates are most likely to be found, in the field of experimental performance? Might the practices of avant-garde theatre uncover the radical potential in Brecht? As already mentioned, Brecht provides, if not a practical method, then certainly inspiration for those seeking a means to resist the ‘representational frames of conventional theatre’ (Love: 275). Here, the practices of the actors Lauren Love and Duane Krause are instructive, as both performers offer reflections on their attempts to implement an ‘epic’ style.3 For each practitioner, Brecht’s appeal rests on the same proposition: When he appears on the stage, besides what he actually is doing he will at all essential points discover, specify, imply what he is not doing; that is to say he will act in such a way that the alternative emerges as clearly as possible, that his acting allows the other possibilities to be inferred . . . every sentence and every gesture signifies a decision . . . The technical term for this procedure is ‘fixing the “not . . . but”’. (Brecht: 137) Following this idea, Krause states that, when adopting an epic approach, actors should attempt to reveal to the audience the choices they have made in presenting their character (rather than mask these choices and make them appear inevitable) so that alternatives may be recognised (Krause: 273). To achieve this end, Krause recommends a performance style based upon a pastiche of different representational forms. In addition, he argues that the actor should reveal the means of representation at several points during performance itself by ‘dropping’ the constructed façade and assuming a ‘natural’ voice and posture to address the audience directly. Working in this way, he argues: ‘the spectator’s view of the character is constantly intercepted by the actor/subject’ (Krause: 265), and as a consequence he suggests, by way of Elin Diamond, ‘the spectator is able to see what s/he can’t see: a sign system as a sign system’ (Diamond 1988: 90). However, despite Krause’s enthusiasm for this approach, when it comes to 98 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 99 the issue of whether or not his practical methods achieve their express ends, Krause is rather circumspect. He offers the conjecture that the performance is ‘no doubt “strange” as well as “surprising” for at least some of the audience’ (Krause: 274), but does not interrogate the viewer’s experience beyond this. Thus, though Krause may successfully draw attention to the duality of performance, he does not distinguish the duality he foregrounds from the duality that is present in all acting (actor/role). He certainly does not get as far as explicating the relationship between the actor disrupting character and the audience engaging in critique. Love’s approach is more politically motivated than Krause. She aligns herself with a feminist performance project and seeks a performance technique which will ‘allow the actor to point to the construction of . . . gender’ (Love: 276). For Love, the basis of resisting organic performance lies in two things. She mirrors Krause’s desire to have the character and actor present simultaneously, as she argues having an actor who stands beside the role, and steps in and out of character (Love: 287, 288) creates a unique tension which, in turn, opens a space for critique (Love: 282). In addition, Love’s approach is also marked by the endeavour to disrupt the conventional idea of female character and thereby resist collusion with the male gaze (Love: 284). She thus foregrounds the importance of playing against the text’s overall image, and rewriting character through performance. However, although Love enthuses about the possibility of resistant performance on this basis, her approach – like Krause’s – stumbles on the point of intentional fallacy. She focuses on what is intended to be read in a highly selective manner. Furthermore, upon inspection, the resistant element in her work owes more to Stanislavski’s notion of the superobjective than anything in Brecht’s theory (cf. Love: 286), with the performance she advocates resembling the performance of any actor playing with an awareness of subtext, and offering a reading or interpretation of a role. Giving the inconsistencies implicit here, we find Love ultimately unable to testify to the efficacy of her work and acknowledging that the outcome of her efforts is rather dubious: ‘Whether or not the spectators questioned their assumptions about gender or representation is unknown to me and highly doubtful’ (Love: 288). Consequently, though placing their faith in, and weight behind, Brecht, both Krause and Love end their reflections upon their work with selfeffacement, looking towards the future breakthroughs of like-minded practitioners rather than celebrating their own achievements. This deferral is, though, perhaps not surprising, as it mirrors Brecht’s own experience. We might remember that Brecht himself was circumspect about his success in realising his theories, noting that only ‘a few connoisseurs’ were appreciative of his new, cold, rational method and that, at best, this approach represented a staging post on the way towards the new theatre (Brecht: 28). In the remainder of the article, we propose to show that the inability of Brecht and these other practitioners to realise their intentions is not, as they assume, because of the embryonic nature of their efforts, it is rather because their practice incorporates an erroneous view of the human Brecht and the disembodied actor 99 STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 4. See Durkheim’s influential suggestion that society is a body of ideas that is not constrained by human nature and which provides the mould for the content of the mind (Durkheim [1895]1962). For a converse modern view see Buss (2001): ‘Culture rests on a foundation of evolved psychological mechanisms and cannot be understood without those mechanisms’ (Buss: 955). 5. Brecht sees behaviourism as the source of a new art capable of affecting the world: ‘We have acquired an entirely new psychology: viz. the American Dr Watson’s Behaviourism . . . Such is our time, and the theatre must be acquainted with it and go along with it, and work out an entirely new sort of art such as will be capable of influencing modern people’ (Brecht: 67). 2:37 PM Page 100 being. In order to make this argument, it is appropriate at this point to turn to something that may appear to have been conspicuously absent from this article – Brecht’s politics, for it is Brecht’s politics that provide the clue to the problem with his view of the actor. The constructed human It is, of course, commonplace to note the influence of Marxist epistemology on Brecht’s thinking, so we do not propose to visit this topic in depth. For present purposes (our discussion of Brecht and the actor), there are, though, two aspects of Marxism that are particularly relevant. Firstly, Marxism’s suspicion of the natural order of things and accompanying emphasis, in league with early twentieth-century psychology, on the constructedness of the human.4 And, secondly, Marxism’s concern with raising consciousness about the power relationships at work beneath social and human structures. Drawing on Marx, Brecht seeks to disrupt the idea of human nature, natural order and ‘“universal” situations’ (Brecht: 96) and to reveal the human world – and by extension the human being’s identity – as an artificial or arbitrary construct, bound up in changeable social, political and economic factors (Brecht: 86). In doing so, Brecht petitions subjects to become aware of their socialisation and political oppression. This view of the human as social rather than biological entity is captured at its most extreme when Brecht speculates: ‘as in mathematics, it is only the series which assigns meaning. “One is no one. One has to be addressed by another”; man only comes into being via the language of a collective, by being called upon to occupy a place. Identity is not there from birth but produced within a signifying system’ (cited in Wright: 35). On these terms the human being is represented as narrative matter or data with his/her identity at best unstable. The influence of behaviourism The depiction of fluid identity may suggest chaos at the personal level, but Brecht finds a point of anchorage amid this account of the human through an appeal to rationality and science. Furthermore, in science he finds a natural ally for his perspective in behaviourist psychology which, like Marxism, focuses on the social influences on behaviour.5 In this regard, behaviourist science’s aim to control clear and distinct experimental operations and focus entirely on observables rather than the inner sources of mind provides Brecht with the inspiration for a new theatre technique in which ‘social laws’ are subjected to rigorous rational investigation (Brecht: 50, 67, 86). Under the influence of behavourism, Brecht seeks to stage narratives which will enable a ‘radical transformation of the mentality of our time’ with ‘theatre, art, and literature [forming] the ideological superstructure for a solid, practical rearrangement of our age’s way of life’ (Brecht: 23). In this it is important to note that Brecht conceives that it is ‘mental’ influence that impinges on the body of society rather than the underlying subconscious imperatives of evolved psychological mechanisms 100 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 101 (Brecht: 23). As a consequence, Brecht aims not merely to reflect the world but to lift the world onto a dialectic plain through abstraction, and to focus upon symbolic meaning and the essential aspects of social forces. Appealing to consciousness Brecht’s privileging of rationality and second-order or symbolic meaning is bound up with a sense of the necessity for communication to take place on the conscious plane in order to facilitate critical detachment and analysis: that is, playing has ‘to enable and encourage the audience to draw abstract conclusions’ (Brecht: 100).6 In this respect, the play-audience relationship is seen as being underpinned by the kind of algorithmic rules by which mathematical problems may be solved, and the actor is inscribed as data that can be fragmented and read in multiple fashion by an autonomous spectator. Brecht’s view here is utopian. He wishes to produce an audience who will confront the contradictions and flux of the social world (Brecht: 76). Emphasising ideology and social change is, though, also for Brecht a means of addressing what he sees as the covert operations of existing theatre practice, where acceptance or rejection of actors’ actions and utterances take place ‘in the audience’s subconscious’ (Brecht: 91). For Brecht this kind of physical, non-mediated, non epistemised interaction is to be resisted at all costs. The body, unlike the mind, is not to be trusted, as it risks duping the audience or flooding the human system with the chaos of the organic.7 In this regard, Brecht sees ‘flesh and blood’ not as a wellspring of human nature and communication but as site of dysfunction, i.e. the body is the source of a cloddish resistance that stands in the way of ideas (Brecht: 46). Disembodiment in practice/the disembodied actor A conception of the human as data rather than physicality, then, forms the basis of how Brecht approaches the actor. He demotes the physical and focuses on laws and that which is available to consciousness. He seeks not to exploit physical communicative capacities but to disembody the actor into the semiotic, so that a language of metaphor stands in for direct experience, and the actor operates as a signifier (a symbol) rather than as a referent (cf. Wright: 114). This preoccupation with the symbolic order is reflected in many aspects of Brecht’s practice. As an example, we can note Brecht’s fondness for mime, where the creation and manipulation of symbolic language rather than direct or pre-symbolic communication requires the spectator to work at constructing narrative meaning. Of course, more notably, this is also at the root of Brecht’s suspicion of actors’ over-identifying with the characters they play and of iconicity in performance. In order to avoid direct correlation (the unity of actor and role) Brecht employs a variety of devices to dehumanise the actor and turn the actor into a symbol (makeup, performance style etc.). His employment of a device such as the actor switching between mimetic acting and narration also reflects this ambition (as narration is also of course another means of mediating reality) Brecht and the disembodied actor 101 6. This, once again, illustrates the extent to which Brecht’s views reflect the ideas of his time; a similar distrust of the subconscious and the body was prevalent in psychology. 7. Brecht’s distrust of processes that are below consciousness leads him to warn against employing evolutionary capacities as a means of communication: for example ‘a turn of the head with tautened neck muscles, will magically lead the audience’s eyes’ (Brecht: 193). STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 102 (Brecht: 58). In all cases Brecht sees it as his task to establish new rules for the art of acting, with devices such as the alienation effect, the gestic style and narration operating as symbolic devices ‘designed to disrupt the imaginary unity between producer and text, actor and role, and spectator and stage’ (Wright: 2). As Elizabeth Wrights notes, this is an enterprise which is similar in spirit to Barthes’s project in S/Z (Wright: 2). However, as Brecht works with actors, and not as Barthes does with words, Brecht runs together organic experience (what is presented via the body) and the symbolic (what is read). Brecht’s Error In conflating the human with the operation of the human’s consciousness, and, indeed, inferring that the body needs to be held together by consciousness, Brecht overestimates mental processes and correspondingly underestimates physical capacities, direct human communication and the body. This misunderstanding or mistrust of the body leads Brecht to divorce information from its carrier and cut the actor adrift in a disembodied or post-human theatre (Brecht: 95). In seeking to transform acting from an organic process to the manipulation of data, Brecht overlooks the extent to which the organic and not the textual (extra-theatrical qualities and information from outside the play) must be drawn upon by both actor and audience (Brecht: 54). Similarly, in expecting the actor to have conscious control of acting Brecht fails to appreciate how the actors who must develop his works actually function. His acting theory is thus incompatible with what the actor is able to achieve. Human predispositions cannot be ignored. They are central to communication. Without the human element acting is reduced to a mechanical process. In practice, furthermore, the reality of the human will always intervene and get in the way of conscious awareness. The tension here is confirmed by practical experiences and commentaries of actors, for whom Brecht’s theories over-intellectualise and/or misconceive the nature of acting. This sense is effectively captured by Alec Guinness’s contention that Brecht’s theories ‘cut right across the nature of the actor substituting some cerebral process for the instinctive’ (cited in Eddershaw 1994: 265). And it is also reflected upon by Anthony Sher and Charles Laughton, who, despite being renowned exponents of Brechtian theatre, each, nevertheless, profess not to understand Brecht and thus to employ conventional acting techniques when performing in his plays (Eddershaw 1994: 260, 265). Such testimonies help substantiate the view that it is not sufficient to conceive of the human (and therefore the actor) as a cultural construct; the biological dimension must also be understood. In order to explore this problem further it is instructive at this point to turn to the much debated topic of emotion. Emotion The role of emotion (or not) in Brecht’s theatre has generated much discussion. This is because of clear tension in Brecht’s expressions. On the 102 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 103 one hand, he conceives of emotion as a source of disruption which induces helpless and involuntary ‘lurchings’ (Brecht: 89) and so suggests that actors should play against emotion (Brecht: 122) portraying incidents of utmost passion without delivery becoming heated (Brecht: 93). He also claims that demonstration can ‘lose its validity’ if emotion is reproduced (Brecht: 122); and at his most provocative asserts his disdain for ‘the scum who want to have the cockles of their hearts warmed’ (Brecht: 14). On the other hand, Brecht notes that ‘neither the public nor the actor must be stopped from taking part emotionally’ (Brecht: 173) and admonishes the frequently recurring mistake of supposing that epic production dispenses with emotional effects (Brecht: 88). After considerable debate on this topic, most critics have abandoned the old assumption that Brecht throws emotion out of the theatre, and now accept that emotion is, in fact, very much a part of his work (cf. Meyer-Dinkgräfe: 64). However, the various debates about whether or not Brecht permits emotion, and, if so, the nature of this emotion, have obscured the real problem: Brecht inscribes an emotion/reason dualism which misunderstands the way people transmit and receive information (Brecht: 15) (for more on Brecht’s view of rational and emotional points of view see Brecht: 145). Though this is consistent with much of European epistemology, it is a perspective that is problematic from the point of view of modern psychology. Here, the idea that cognition is skewed towards representation and abstract problem-solving is increasingly being replaced by approaches that look at the affective nature of mind. Under such approaches, the human is no longer seen on the one hand as a coldly rational processor of information or, on the other, as irrational and error-prone. Emotion is, rather, accepted as an integral part of thinking. This can be termed a shift from cold to hot cognition. In hot cognition, motivational systems are seen to drive cognitive systems, and emotion and purpose are held to be at the heart of thinking and engagement with the world. A growing number of researchers working from this premise thus argue that emotion helps human beings organise and select responses when negotiating the environment and each other (see Brecht: 193). For Metzinger, emotion is central to the notion of the ‘self ’. For Panksepp, emotion provides a precondition for the emergence of thought and reflective self-awareness (Panksepp: 150). For LeDoux, the human system is an emotional system (LeDoux: 72). And for Damasio – perhaps the most significant contemporary theorist of emotion – emotion not only makes communication more efficient, it also operates as a kind of metacognition (Damasio 2003: 69), which is essential to thinking, meaning and decision-making (Damasio 2003: 121). Correspondingly, Damasio argues that judgements made in ‘emotion-impoverished’ circumstance are likely to be erratic, or underdeveloped (Damasio 2003: 144–50). These perspectives foreground the efficacy present in emotion. Such views have many advantages for explaining human interaction with the world. They are also helpful to the analysis of theatre, as they offer a plausible account of how the human being engages with the experience of a Brecht and the disembodied actor 103 STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 104 phenomenon such as a play, by giving an indication of the kind of human tendencies that need to be drawn upon if literary artefacts are to achieve their effects (cf. Carroll 2007). In this regard, we might note the deictic manner in which drama functions, that is, how it depends on anchoring meaning to context. For a dramatic world to function, the spectator must be allowed to immerse himself in that world, and through this immersion to familiarise himself with local laws, find his way round, understand the participatory relationships between characters, and orientate himself in relation to shifts in location and time (cf. Stockwell: 44–6). A hot view of cognition suggests that emotion and empathy are the key to this kind of deictic engagement, that emotion and empathy bind the spectator to the play and facilitate the identification that is essential for tracking a character’s perspective (Stockwell: 153). In addition, emotion and empathy are the source of the ability ‘to intuit another person’s perceptions, thoughts and beliefs’ and to envision the world from someone else’s point of view (Carroll: 641; Stockwell: 171–3). On these terms emotion and empathy cannot be seen merely as unfortunate after-thoughts or side-effects of a practice such as drama, they must instead be regarded as that which makes drama possible: i.e. without emotion and empathy, the spectator would have no means of navigating a dramatic world because there would be no positive or negative feelings to prompt the spectator along his course. In this regard, it follows that it is the affective, and not reflective consciousness, that is the source of the spectator’s ability to structure response to phenomena such as dramatic stage presentations. Correspondingly, modern views of cognition imply that there is a binding problem with staging narratives that are shaped by conscious forms rather than by the underlying subconscious imperatives of (evolved) psychological mechanisms. These accounts suggest that, in itself, the conscious mind is unreliable and confabulatory and even a source of irrationality (e.g. Simons and Chabris; Metzinger: 234–7), and that what binds the human together, and to the social, is a warmer kind of cognition, emerging from emotion and the upwelling subconscious, part of which may be the ‘core consciousness’ of physical states (Damasio 2000). Under these views, thinking is part of action, and emotion is very much part of thought. In contrast, Brecht explicitly maintains an ‘uncompromising intellectualism’, deprecating emotion in favour of reason and a socio-historical approach to the human mind (for example, Brecht suggests that Shakespeare loses his power when the individual becomes a capitalist) and assuming that everything comes together in consciousness (Brecht: 15, 20). In this, there is a preoccupation with ‘the idea of the human mind as a carefully engineered machine . . . [rather than] . . . as biological organ with an evolutionary history’ (LeDoux: 39). This may well fit the spirit of Brecht’s time, but it has disadvantageous consequences. It prompts Brecht to underestimate the role that emotion and the subconscious play for the human being and the performer; human engagement with the world is more efficient, and less abstruse than he assumes. 104 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 105 The subconscious Brecht’s view of emotion inscribes a common metacognitive human error – the human being’s tendency to overestimate the ability of his/her own consciousness, which is tributary to an overestimation of verbal, logical, conscious intelligence, and corresponding de-emphasis of emotion, motivation, and context (Levin; LeDoux; and see also Dennett). Consciousness is not, though, the kind of representational and processing summation that it subjectively seems. In fact, even the fraction of the human’s interaction with the world that is incorporated into consciousness is incompletely assembled (see Simons and Chabris). Evolutionary psychology helps develop this point. It emphasises that the mind is more than conscious cognition, and that, though the human mind solves problems, it does not necessarily do so by dealing in abstract formulations but rather according to built-in adaptations (see Cosmides and Tooby). Furthermore, as the limited evolutionary remit and capacity of consciousness makes it unable to process everything adequately for performance, subconscious processing is the rule rather than the exception (LeDoux). Perceptual, motor, semantic and response processes are all regularly engaged without conscious awareness (Dehaene et al.; Milner and Goodale), and even speech and imagery, which appear to be bastions of the conscious manipulation of information, are products of subconscious manufacture. Similarly, social relationships and social decision-making depend on physical functioning, as the latent activation of motor responses is needed to understand others’ actions, emotions and intentions, and these motor responses occur during the observation of actions without ever necessarily being available as representations in consciousness (Damasio 2003; Gallese, Keysers and Rizzolatti 2004; Rizzolatti and Fogassi 2007). In all respects, the mind’s natural inclination is to distil the essence of engagement with the world. The mind sifts out useful rules about how to act, and then seeks to make these components of future responses as readily available as possible, for example, by reducing them to permanent and unconscious skills that are effortlessly recalled via the process that is commonly known as ‘procedural’ memory. Consciousness and technique Because he seeks to draw attention to representation and the hidden operations of power, Brecht is suspicious of the notion of these kinds of natural human capacities. Instead, he has a sense of the necessity of appealing to a coldly rational human for whom interaction with the world takes place on the conscious plane. He thus seeks a means of detaching the actor and audience from their natural biological imperatives. The actor is charged with developing an effortful, self-conscious kind of acting through reference to symbol and consciousness rather than the subconscious and the body (see Brecht: 128) and via this process to transform him/herself into data. This idea of detaching the actor from character rests on the idea that the inner world is separable from outer expression and that human behaviour is predicated on conscious ideas. Brecht believes that divorcing the Brecht and the disembodied actor 105 STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 106 actor from his ‘natural’ human state aids the process of presenting the play as a rational, perceptual problem to be solved by an audience. Brecht also posits that this assists the spectator in becoming an autonomous maker of meaning who analyses rather than feels as his/her first imperative and for whom consciousness rather than the body intercedes in the reception of the play. In psychological terms, Brecht is then focused on ‘declarative knowledge’ that is consciously reportable. However, as noted above, this is only a subset of learned knowledge (i.e. most knowledge is unconscious, procedural and bodily). The subconscious plays a key role in interpretation and in organising activity, and it is here that most human behaviour (and communication) is sourced or generated. Consequently, abstractly modelling the emergence of complex behavioural patterns of response from simple ones does not capture how directed purpose is embodied in an external form (how the actor acts). Thus, where Brecht expresses an acting theory, this is a theory of the mind and not the body. In this he conceives of acting as a practice where ‘Knowledge is a matter of knowing the tricks’ (Brecht: 96). However, employing techniques alone, without embedding the actor in emotion and the subconscious sources of action, is, as Stanislavski reminds us, a ‘senseless exercise’ (Stanislavski: 238). This might allow for an idealised actor who exists abstractly, but it does nothing for the actor who must deal with the contingencies of the real world. Conceiving of acting as representation and convention involves too limited a view of how the human operates. Emotion and the subconscious also must be accommodated, as they facilitate ‘the direct cooperation of nature itself ’ in performance (Stanislavski: 24) and scaffold human communication, such as that seen in bodily mechanisms that allow a direct communicative link between performer and viewer to exist without reflective mediation or symbolic conceptualisation (Gallese et al.). Emotions, central to the transmission of meaningful information, cannot be freely triggered or manipulated, and so in particular confront the human with the mind’s physicality (see Metzinger) that through shared inheritance provides richly for the transmission of information, if the emotional context is right. Rather than focusing on representation, it is therefore important to establish an organic connection for the actor between outside and inside conditions. Intention, purpose or objective are not sufficient on their own, they must put nature to work. Without this, Brecht’s pedagogics carry more than a hint of being arbitrary, learnable behaviours (the presumption of which was the downfall of behaviourism). In this regard, the repeated insight from key figures and thinkers in psychological science is that we need to study the human as thoroughly engaged in action, with the purpose of all perception and thought being to serve action, and the human continually and actively using all of its capacities while interpreting and responding to the situation around it (James 1890; O’Regan and Noë 2001). Developing an approach to acting that opposes or resists some of these capacities entails a lack of engagement with the world and an inability to construct an account of how the actor’s actions ‘play out’ or dramatic patterns emerge 106 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 107 (something we have already noted Brecht is culpable of in his various shifts between reverence for actors, aloofness, and pragmatism – ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’). This lack of engagement with the reality of the human and the physical and affective (as well as conscious) nature of the actor’s task might thus be seen as the source of the competing claims, confusions, debates and deferral that surround the topic of Brecht’s approach to the actor. Conclusion The embodied view of cognition is sometimes critiqued for offering a reductive view of the human. This is because stressing fit-for-purpose mechanisms and the natural necessities that impinge on the human risks tying the individual’s responses too closely to the external environments that specify them. In this regard, emphasising the importance of bodily mechanism (subconscious, automatic, procedural processing) can appear to entail determinism or to turn human behaviour into a motorised process. It is important that this kind of position is avoided, as it merely inverts the problem of the overestimation of consciousness that we have discussed with regard to Brecht. On these terms, Brecht’s experimental and didactic approach to the actor is not to be dismissed as mere esotericism. While acknowledging that the functioning of the human mind is constrained by its biological nature, we can also note that a perspective such as that of Brecht has a contribution to make to constructing a comprehensive account of the human. In this regard, Brecht raises important issues that provide a challenge to psychology. His insistence on consciousness foregrounds an important issue – the human’s non-context bound capacities (i.e. how the human being is able to detach itself from immediate circumstance, employ counterfactual thinking (see Glenberg), and explore and evaluate alternatives [Carroll: 640]). As a consequence Brecht makes a contribution to confronting psychologists with nothing less than the issue of how humans alter the world in which they live. Thus, while acknowledging the tensions in Brecht’s view of the human (and the actor), Brecht reminds us that not only the body and ‘natural response’ needs to be at the centre of any account of, or appeal to, the human (and the actor) but also consciousness and all the complexities that go with it. However, while taking on board that the social laws that Brecht addresses may vary in the extent of their subconscious and biological constraints (according to the principles of evolutionary psychology; see Boyd and Richerson; Buss), it is also important to remember that the transmission of information about such laws cannot be understood independently of the evolved design of human social interaction. Innate human systems create a direct link between human senders and receivers of information and provide a suitable scaffold for social cognition (Gallese et al.), and emotion and physical action are central not only to the transmission and understanding of information but also to more conceptual Brecht and the disembodied actor 107 STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 8. The word ‘grasp’ appears in discussions of seminal brain research (particularly work by Rizzolatti et al.) that raises the prospect that imagining, simulating, understanding and doing have the same basis. 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Panksepp, Jaak (2007), The neuroevolutionary and neuroaffective psychobiology of the prosocial brain, in Dunbar and Barrett (eds.), pp. 145–162. Patterson, Michael (1994), Brecht’s legacy, in Thomson and Sacks (eds.), pp. 273–287. Rizzolatti, Giacomo, and Leonardo Fogassi (2007), Mirror neurons and social cognition, in Dunbar and Barrett (eds.), pp. 179–196. Rouse, John (1995), Brecht and the contradictory actor, in Zarrilli (ed.), pp. 228–241. Shklovsky, Victor (1965), ‘Art as technique’, in Lee T. Lemon and Marion Reis (eds.), Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Simons, Daniel J. and Christopher F. Chabris (1999), ‘Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events’, Perception, 28: 9, pp. 1059–1074. Stanislavski, C. (2003 [1936]), An Actor Prepares (trans. Elizabeth Hapgood), New York: Routledge. Stockwell, Peter (2002), Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction, London: Routledge. Thomson, Peter (1994), Brecht’s lives, in Thomson and Sacks (eds.), pp. 22–42. Thomson, Peter and Glendyr Sacks (eds.) (1994), The Cambridge Companion to Brecht, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Weber, Carl (1994), Brecht and the Berliner Ensemble – the making of a model, in Thomson and Sacks (eds.), pp. 167–184. Wright, Elizabeth (1989), Postmodern Brecht: A Representation, London: Routledge. Zarrilli, Phillip (ed.) (1995), Acting [Re]considered, London, Routledge. Brecht and the disembodied actor 109 STP-28-2-01-Connolly 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 110 Suggested citation Connolly, R., & Ralley, R. (2008), ‘Brecht and the disembodied actor’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 28: 2, pp. 91–110, doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.91/1 Contributor details Roy Connolly is a Senior Lecturer in Drama, and programme leader for the MA in Contemporary Performance Practice at the University of Sunderland. His research interests include cultural identity, acting and directing. E-mail: [email protected] Richard Ralley is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Edge Hill. His research and teaching interests are in cognitive psychology, especially the psychology of perception and action, and the relationship of conscious to unconscious thought. E-mail: [email protected] 110 Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 111 Studies in Theatre and Performance Volume 28 Number 2 © 2008 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.111/1 Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ Mike Ingham Abstract Keywords In this article I will investigate why Shakespeare’s plays are sites of translationadaptation-appropriation par excellence for memetic propagation within and across cultures. I will explore one of Shakespeare’s most famous and beloved works, as well as one of his most adapted, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and refer to a number of adaptations, appropriations, variations or even evolutionary mutations, as one might call them in the terminology of gene and meme theory. What I am principally interested in, for the purpose of this article, is the question of relevance and applicability of memetic concepts to Shakespeare, himself one of the most significant cultural phenomena of the last 500 years. As arguably the most influential adapting and subsequently adapted author of all time, Shakespeare is ideal for the purposes of the present study. The sheer popularity, regularity of performance and cultural continuity of A Midsummer Night’s Dream makes it, along with Macbeth, King Lear, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, highly representative in its universality. I will refer to a number of diachronic appropriations and adaptations, including Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, Benjamin Britten’s more faithful operatic version of the play and George Balanchine’s sumptuous 1962 ballet version based on Mendelssohn’s famous score. I will also discuss the current vogue for Asian adaptations of Shakespeare with a number of examples, focusing especially on Jung Ung Yang’s recent appropriation of Shakespeare’s Dream into a traditional Korean theatrical idiom for Seoul-based Yohangza Theatre Company. memes This exploration of literary adaptation and appropriation has had recourse at several points to companion art forms such as film and music and to the scientific domain, especially to those theories that began with Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin in the 19th century and whose tendrils reach well into the 21st with the ongoing debates about DNA and genetic modification. (Julie Sanders, Adaptation and Appropriation: 156) Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! Thou art translated. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act 3, Scene 1) And the ‘mazed world, by their increase, now knows not which is which. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act 2, Scene 1) STP 28 (2) 111–126 © Intellect Ltd 2008 111 cultural transmission Shakespearean adaptation inter-semiotic performance musicality Yohangza Korea or Asian appropriations STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 112 Background and meme theory That virtue of originality that men so strain after is not newness (there is nothing new); it is only genuineness. (John Ruskin, Modern Painters, Vol. II) In Michael Bristol’s book Big-time Shakespeare, the author refers to Harold Bloom’s theory of poetic cultural influence, particularly Shakespeare’s, and, extending the etymological proximity of influence and influenza, likens it to a virus, which replicates itself exponentially. In his discussion of Shakespeare’s longue durée, Bristol touches on the question of whether the cultural transmission of Shakespeare’s work has something in common with concepts of biological replication connected with the human brain and, by extension, digital replication Does the principle of a self-replicating code or informational virus appear in the domain of culture? Bloom’s theory of influence suggests that memorable literary works are a complex form of obligate parasitism created by skilful linguistic hackers. On this view the literary artist uses the resources of a natural language to devise the self-replicating code. This then is loaded into human bio-ware, where it makes copies of itself. (Bristol: 127) Julie Sanders contemplates a similar scenario of dynamic cultural replication in her 2006 study of literary adaptation and appropriation. She sees a necessary link, rather than a loose metaphorical analogy, between biological and cultural adaptation phenomena What begins to emerge is the more kinetic account of adaptation and appropriation . . . . . these texts often rework texts that often, themselves, reworked texts. The process of adaptation is ongoing. It is not entirely unconnected that the disciplinary domains in which the term adaptation has proved most resonant are biology and ecology . . . . . Adaptation proves in these examples [adaptive variation in species] to be a far from neutral, indeed highly active, mode of being, far removed from the unimaginative act of imitation, copying or repetition that it is sometimes presented as being by literature and film critics obsessed with ‘originality’. (Sanders: 24) Richard Dawkins in his influential book The Selfish Gene (1976) introduced the concept of the meme. It is defined as ‘a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation ([1976]1989: 192). A meme is an idea, but the latter emphasises the stability of the entity while the former emphasises its movements. A meme spreads and, like a gene, it replicates. Also like a gene, a meme transforms itself in accordance with the conditions of the new habitat in order to survive. The habitat of the meme is the human 112 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 113 brain. Susan Blackmore discusses its fundamental characteristics in The Meme Machine: ‘What then makes for a good quality replicator? Dawkins (1976) sums it up in three words – fidelity, fecundity and longevity. This means that a replicator has to be copied accurately, many copies must be made, and the copies must last a long time – although there may be tradeoffs between the three’ (Blackmore: 58). Dawkins’s agenda is sociobiological. He tries to represent another dimension of human evolution stressing the role of the brain in genetic transformation. He is careful to differentiate between the gene and the meme: ‘. . . In general, memes resemble the early replicating molecules, floating chaotically free in the primeval soup, rather than modern genes in their neatly paired chromosomal regiments’ ([1976]1989: 196). Nevertheless, Dawkins believes that memetic evolution is ‘achieving evolutionary change at a rate that leaves the old gene panting far behind’ ([1976]1989: 192). With methodologies of natural science, one might go so far as to argue that memes can affect the biological function of the brain, therefore other body functions and ultimately genetic revolution. That would be an ambitious and significant task for human beings’ selfunderstanding. Yet for the present occasion, I limit myself to using the concept of the meme without exploring the biological implications (a task for which I am, as a non-scientist, eminently unsuited!). In any case we should bear in mind that Dawkins’s original hypothesis of the meme is just that: a hypothesis and an interesting postscript to his genetic theories, as he has been at pains to point out in introducing Blackmore’s development of his hypothesis (1996: xvi). Notwithstanding reservations about the demonstrability of the meme, in Dawkins’s recent best-selling broadside against revealed religion and creationist propaganda, The God Delusion, he appears to have retained confidence in his original concept: ‘The meme pool is less structured and less organised than the gene pool. Nevertheless, it is not obviously silly to speak of a meme pool in which particular memes might have a “frequency” which can change as a consequence of competitive interactions with alternative memes’ (2006: 223). Speaking of the thorny issue of fidelity, as compared to Darwinian replicators, Dawkins offers the exquisitely apt example of master-apprentice transmission of craft skills. He concludes: ‘The details may wander idiosyncratically, but the essence passes down unmutated, and that is all that is needed for the analogy of memes with genes to my work’ (2006: 224). The concept of the meme has been elaborated and applied in a number of studies of different disciplines, notably Andrew Chesterman’s application of the idea to Translation Studies. In Memes of Translation: the Spread of Ideas in Translation Theory (1997), Chesterman’s concern is translation theories. He circumscribes a number of concepts in translation theories, calling them ‘supermemes’ (after Dawkins) of translation, and discusses what they mean in different theoretical paradigms. For Chesterman, the concept of the meme ‘highlights an aspect of the translation phenomenon Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ 113 STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 114 that I want to foreground: the way that ideas spread and change as they are translated, just as biological evolution involves mutations. In this light, a translator is not someone whose task is to conserve something but to propagate something, to spread and develop it: translators are agents of change’ (Chesterman: 2). In his discussion of the Source-Target supermeme in Translation Studies, he emphasises this idea as being ‘directional’, and as being about ‘movement along a path: cognitive linguistics would talk of a “path schema”, with the translation itself being the “trajector” moving along this path’ (Chesterman: 8). This is useful for our present purpose because the metaphor of the path offers a special dimension in the way we think about the replication of memes. According to the hypothesis, a meme reproduces itself with transmutation involved in the process. The new meme does not replace the parent-meme. They exist side by side. If the parent-meme does not survive, it is because it does not adapt to either a changed or a new environment, never because it is replaced by the new meme. Any translator, adaptor or play director can understand this perfectly well. His/her translation/ adaptation/appropriation can never replace or efface the original text, although the original might not be read by the translation’s readers or seen by spectators of the adaptation. This is true for inter-lingual translation and inter-cultural transposition. I am particularly interested, in the present article, in what Roman Jakobson called inter-semiotic translation or transmutation – that is, translation across sign systems such as from words into music, from music into dance, and from dance or music into painting (Jakobson: 147). In his essay ‘The Task of the Translator’, Walter Benjamin discusses the idea of what he terms ‘translatability’, referring to the qualities of the literary text that lend themselves to translation. He goes on to say, ‘Translation, ironically, transplants the original into a more definitive linguistic realm since it can no longer be displaced by a secondary rendering. The original can only be raised there anew and at other points of time’ (Benjamin: 76). It is this use of ‘anew’ that is particularly illuminating for theatrical adaptation and translation practice. Each local production of a pre-existing play, from whatever source-culture it may derive, actively seeks to reinterpret the text for a fresh target audience. This is true of many traditional theatre practices, even to some extent Japanese traditional theatre, and to a larger extent traditional Chinese theatre. It is certainly true of Shakespeare, even in the context of Globe Theatre ‘authentic’ performances. To Benjamin’s concept of translatability I would like to append that of adaptability – the extent to which a certain source-text is apt for cross-cultural transposition and mediation within a somewhat alien target culture. As this article will argue, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a pre-eminent example of adaptability, in addition to having achieved pre-eminence as a source of cultural replication and transmission. At the very end of his essay on translation, Benjamin’s profoundest insight, I believe, in discussing what he calls the ‘afterlife’ of the text, is this: 114 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 115 Just as in the original, language and revelation are one without any tension, so the translation must be one with the original in the form of the interlinear version, in which literalness and freedom are united. For to some degree all great texts contain their potential translation between the lines. (Benjamin: 82) It is precisely this nebulous content contained between the lines of a dramatic text that has inspired directors and actors of diverse cultures and generations to explore the vast possibilities inherent in the work, and reencode the work for a fresh target audience, be their praxis intra-cultural or inter-cultural. The afterlife of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – ‘How shall we find the concord of this discord?’ ‘Ovid’s Metamorphoses are themselves a fable of constant translation, of the tragic or ironic changes of identity into new form.’ (George Steiner, After Babel: 413) The performance history of A Midsummer Night’s Dream exemplifies the view that Shakespeare’s dramatic work is protean and elastic in its performance potentiality. To quote Fischlin and Fortier: ‘As long as there have been plays by Shakespeare, there have been adaptations of those plays’ (Fischlin and Fortier: 1). Given the huge range of adaptations and appropriations of this play, it is therefore somewhat ironic that it is one of the few Shakespeare plays that does not appear, as far as scholarship can tell, to have been adapted predominantly from a single original source. Dating from around the same time as Romeo and Juliet and probably first performed in 1595, the play is, in Stanley Wells’s authoritative view, ‘one of Shakespeare’s “most individual creations”’ (Wells 1967:14). However, that is not to say that the various components of the play are without traceable literary sources. There are three main plot strands: the love affairs and quarrels between the pairs of fugitive human lovers; the strife and mischief in the fairy world of the forest; and the rehearsals and ultimate performance of the workmen preparing a dramatic interlude for performance at the wedding of the Duke of Athens. The Theseus and Hippolyta element appears to be strongly indebted to Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale and the transformation scene with the ass’s head to Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, via Adlington’s 1566 translation. It is even more evident that many of the play’s mythological references, as well as the burlesque final-act Pyramus and Thisbe performance, come from Ovid’s mythopoeic work The Metamorphoses, probably via Arthur Golding’s pedestrian translation of 1567. There is strong speculation that the play was composed specifically for an aristocratic wedding in the mid-1590s and first performed in this celebratory context, but there is equal evidence that the Dream was primarily written for and played in the public theatres. Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ 115 STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 1. The libretto of The Fairy Queen is derived from an anonymous adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Subsequently it was attributed to Elkanah Settle but another possible author has been identified as Thomas Betterton, with whom Purcell collaborated on another semi-opera, Dioclesian. See The Cambridge Introduction to English Theatre, p. 22 for a more detailed discussion of the idiosyncratic medley of Shakespeare’s plot details and the libretto lyrics set to music by Purcell. 2. Peter Thomson, The Cambridge Introduction to English Theatre, 1660–1900, Cambridge: CUP, p. 22. 2:37 PM Page 116 Subsequent productions of the play itself or textual variants, bowdlerised versions and adaptations-appropriations into other art forms or media have tended to emphasise one or two of the above plot strands, frequently to the detriment of the third. It seems that, to judge by a Samuel Pepys diary entry of 1662 in which the performance is described as ‘insipid’ and ‘ridiculous’, the claims of spectacular mimesis over dramatic poesis in performances of the play were already firmly established. Again this is ironic considering the magically evocative quality of the language itself. Little wonder, then, that many educated commentators and cultural connoisseurs preferred the reading mode of Shakespearean appreciation to the live performance mode. As Wells pertinently observes, ‘Over-exploitation of the play’s opportunities for spectacle has too long a history’ (Wells: 8). That said, there is little doubt that among Shakespeare’s plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream is commonly regarded as one of the most visually appealing and enchanting, particularly in an open-air setting where allusions to nature in the text can be experienced not only literally, but also viscerally and phenomenologically. The powerful synthesis of nature and mythology lies at the heart of the play’s power to regenerate its magical allure for fresh audiences from century to century and continent to continent. Henry Purcell’s baroque entertainment The Fairy Queen (1692), based on the quarrels of the mortal and fairy couples – ‘the forgeries of jealousy’ in Titania’s memorable epithet – and especially the tussle over the ‘lovely Indian boy’, set Shakespeare’s central plot line, but not his dramatic poetry in any distinctly recognisable form.1 To quote Peter Thomson, the work is ‘a wild composite of startling songs, bursts of dialogue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, characters who have crept in from pastoral whimsy . . . and musical invitations to scenic spectacle’, but for all that ‘for sheer aesthetic nerve this misshapen spectacular carries the hallmarks of the theatrical avant-garde’.2 In the creative adaptive process Purcell created songs and airs of exquisite, crystalline beauty in his rambling, nine-masque version of the play’s central themes and motifs. The Fairy Queen prioritises music – both vocal and instrumental – mime and dance over all else. The burlesque element provided by Shakespeare’s ‘rude mechanicals’ is retained, but transformed into the presence of a drunken poet, somehow assimilated into the loose narrative, and the sexually suggestive antics of the rival factions of fairies. One of the more exotic and entirely extraneous impositions on the narrative is Oberon’s Chinese-style wedding and a monkey dance, which prefigure the human reconciliation and weddings proclaimed in ‘Sure, the dull god of marriage’ and ‘They shall be as happy’ in the final masque. It is clear from the status of Purcell’s Fairy Queen in the classical music canon that this type of inter-semiotic transposition of Shakespeare’s play can be considered great art in its own right. Consequently it may be argued that the high degree of variation in the transformed text highlights the musical-operatic form as an agent of change or cultural mutation. This in turn suggests a correlation between radical difference of the target text from the source and aesthetic value/creative independence. However, 116 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 117 a much more recent variation on Shakespeare’s source, namely Benjamin Britten’s opera, also entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1959) – libretto by Britten and Peter Pears after Shakespeare – undermines any such formulation. Britten’s opera, by marked contrast with Purcell’s, exhibits a high degree of fidelity to Shakespeare’s formal and poetic concept, in spite of his inevitable abandonment of iambic pentameter and trochaic tetrameter. Britten’s and Pears’s libretto for the opera sets many of Shakespeare’s lines, although it does take structural liberties by conflating certain scenes from different acts and omitting some of the more extended exchanges between characters. The three-act structure of Britten’s adaptation – very much a standard format for opera – succeeds in encapsulating all of the plot elements in an instantly recognisable form. Certain effects, such as skilfully devised synchronous duets and quartets covering several exchanges in the original text, capture the mood of the lovers’ quarrels wonderfully well. They convey effectively, more effectively perhaps than consecutively delivered lines of the spoken play, the insistence of each of the lovers on their own emotional perspectives and their refusal to listen to each other rationally. Britten’s master-stroke in his operatic version of this quintessential English pastoral piece is to recreate the sound world of Shakespeare’s play in a paradoxically modern and yet ancient style. In doing so he lays to rest the ghost of Mendelssohn’s magnificent but excessively associated incidental music of the romantic era, with its famous wedding march and irresistible motifs suggesting the antics of both fairies and clowns. The Mendelssohn meme had predominated for more than a hundred years and become wholly identified with Shakespeare’s play, in spite of a minor variation on it by composer Erich Korngold in a version specially re-arranged for Max Reinhardt’s 1935 film of the Dream. Britten succeeds in discovering a more elemental soundscape to replace the romanticised world of nineteenthcentury interpretation – more chromatically nuanced than the Mendelssohn score – which harmonises perfectly with the Shakespearean text and brings out the play’s Englishness. The hauntingly beautiful blessing refrain ‘Now until the break of day’, sung by Oberon, Titania and their fairy retinue, which closes the opera, is somehow Elizabethan in its use of voices – reminiscent of Byrd, Tallis or Dowland, but at the same time modern and original, not mere pastiche. To use the meme hypothesis here seems apposite. Fecundity and longevity can be assumed to be demonstrably applicable to Shakespeare in general and to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in particular. What is more at issue in the context of the present article is the antithetical claims of free variation against imitative likeness, or, to put it in the terminology of the arts, poetic licence versus faithfulness. Variation and difference in the propagation of the ‘Dream Meme’ in a text like The Fairy Queen are offset by fidelity and proximity to the parent text in the Britten opera. The 1939 American swing musical Swinging the Dream – starring a youngish Louis Armstrong, incidentally, as Bottom – inclined more, not surprisingly, to the Purcell Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ 117 STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 118 adaptation mode. Britten, by contrast, saw something intrinsically English, pastoral and eternally magical in Shakespeare’s language, which he opted to transpose remarkably faithfully. At the same time that Britten was composing his faithful yet independent version – and there is clear concord in the discord of this paradox – George Balanchine was conceiving his neoclassical ballet of the Dream (1962) for La Scala Ballet Company, fusing his own visions of pure dance with Mendelssohn’s inspirational music. Balanchine jettisoned much of the burlesque element provided by Bottom and his fellow mechanicals, in favour of a two-part structure that highlights the disputes and confusion of the first act followed by the unifying joint nuptials of the second act. The wedding march and the various divertissements and pas de deux of the celebratory and narratively static second act indicate unequivocally where Balanchine’s interests lay for the purposes of his adaptation. In the first act, apart from the slightly bizarre variant of transforming the ‘little changeling boy’ into ‘Titania’s cavalier’ (an excessively sexual interpretation of Shakespeare’s use of the word ‘squire’, it seems), the adaptation follows Shakespeare’s narrative quite closely. One exception to the work’s concentration on pure dance and aesthetic harmony is the incongruity of Bottom’s dance with Titania, a brilliant compromise between artistic purity and dramatic necessity. Having dispensed with the plot detail before the intermission, the choreographer feels free to concentrate on pure dance and spectacular configurations in the second half. Perhaps, though, such licence is not so far from the spirit of the original as may be thought. As Harold Brooks has pointed out, the music, song and dance elements in The Dream are an intrinsic part of the work’s plot, not merely an optional extra (see Brooks 1979). The work’s spectacle and its sound world go hand-inhand with the lyricism of Shakespeare’s dramatic rhythms and cadences. The recurrent meme in all of these transpositions – and in visionary, landmark stage interpretations such as Harley Granville Barker’s 1914 Savoy Theatre production, Peter Hall’s 1959 Stratford production or the 1970 Peter Brook Royal Shakespeare Company production – relies on transmitting or regenerating the sound-vision balance at the heart of Shakespeare’s play. The physical sound experience of the language of A Midsummer Night’s Dream transcends – rather as the words of nursery rhymes or the works of Lewis Carroll fix themselves in the brain on account of their sonorities – reception of the performance on purely semantic levels. The creation of variant rhythms and musical echoes and motifs in Britten’s opera opened up the potential sound world of the play in a way that had not been explored as profoundly before. Thus, just when conventional modes of production and reception are becoming stale with the accretions of cultural fashion and one-time mould-breaking interpretation, the Dream meme is reinvigorated by a mutation or adaptation, which reasserts either the play’s rich cultural tradition or its potential for variation and cultural alterity. As Benjamin observed, going back to the source text and reading between the lines is the key. 118 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 119 Asian ‘Babes’ – Shakespeare’s Asian progeny and Yohangza Theatre Company’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream From fairest creatures we desire increase That thereby beauty’s rose might never die (William Shakespeare, Sonnet 1) In recent decades there has been a proliferation of Asian adaptations of Shakespeare, whether for the stage or for the screen. Akira Kurosawa’s Ran and Throne of Blood have embedded themselves in the consciousness of Shakespeare devotees world-wide and evolved a cultural life both relative to and independent of their respective parent texts. Many Asian adaptations of Shakespeare are intercultural and inter-semiotic in essence, and the most memorable succeed in transplanting the Shakespearean seed into fresh and fertile cultural soil that is culturally alien from London or Stratford. Anthony Tatlow’s perception of more than a decade ago is probably even truer now than when he wrote it, given the innate conservatism and resistance of the Shakespeare establishment towards any attempt to ‘take liberties’ with the Bard, and the corresponding time-lapse required for acceptance A Japanese or Chinese Shakespeare no longer seems a contradiction in terms but can open our eyes to readings we would never have associated with those texts but which seem entirely justified and hence an enlargement of our understanding. These performances are simply more exciting and suggestively defamiliarising . . . than anything currently available within a purely Western repertory. (Tatlow: 12–13) Tatlow’s book pre-dates new groups such as Edward Hall’s Propeller company, and he may not have seen Théâtre de Complicité at the time, but both companies, not to mention Mark Rylance’s high-quality Shakespeare productions at the Globe Theatre, have done much to revitalise native Shakespeare performance in the last ten to fifteen years. Both Complicité and Propeller have also toured extensively to critical acclaim. Nevertheless, Tatlow’s point has often been echoed by more open-minded and acute critics in the West, culminating, I would argue, in a greater acceptance by western audiences of ‘foreign Shakespeares’. A further factor to consider is that the inexorable effects of globalisation have done much to reduce the culture gap between western audiences and Asian theatre practitioners. Indeed, Shakespeare’s plays appear to have a remarkable affinity with diverse Asian theatrical forms such as Chinese xiqu, Japanese kyogen and kabuki, Indian kathakali and Cambodian Khmer classical dance. Dynamic stylised treatment can open up new perspectives on some of the tired and clichéd western production concepts of Shakespeare, and especially the Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ 119 STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 3. Interview reported in South China Morning Post, 11 March 2007. 2:37 PM Page 120 Dream, which correspond to the ‘deadly theatre’ that Brook targeted so unerringly in The Empty Space. As Jatinder Verma of London-based Tara Arts, whose recent production of The Merchant of Venice was set in Cochin in Kerala, points out: ‘Shakespeare is strong on class structures and hierarchies, but these hierarchies have broken down in England. In Asia we still have strong hierarchies. I’d say the best way to do Shakespeare and be true to him is to do it through Asian eyes.’3 One director who sees Shakespeare’s work as utterly Asian is Japanese master Yukio Ninagawa. Ninagawa’s epic Japanese settings of Shakespeare plays have become accepted as modern classic productions in the West as well as in Asia, and his work has, not surprisingly, exerted considerable influence on fellow Asian directors. South Korea’s leading playwright, Tae Su Oh, had considerable success internationally with a highly acclaimed Korean-set Romeo and Juliet. In 2001 the Monsaku Nomura Company’s kyogen adaptation of A Comedy of Errors, entitled A Kyogen of Errors, was performed to a rapturous reception at the Globe Theatre in London, as part of the Shakespeare Globe-to-Globe season. The Singaporean director Ong King Sen’s Shakespeare variations, making use, for example, of multiple Asian performance techniques in his 1998 King Lear, have also in their own idiosyncratic way extended the bounds of what is possible. And one should not overlook the multi-talented Taiwanese actor-deviser Wu Hsingkuo, whose brilliant solo performance of all nine major roles in his modern xiqu King Lear (Hong Kong Arts Festival 2003) was a profoundly rich theatrical experience, one which encouraged us to look at the characters of the tragedy afresh. Such diverse and divergent Shakespeare adaptations have created a benchmark for excellence and innovation that intrigues and delights all but the most conservative and closed-minded of audiences in the West, and has in the process stimulated the creativity of directors such as Mike Alfreds with his quasi-Japanese Cymbeline (2001). Another UK director profoundly affected by Asian theatrical techniques and conventions is Tim Supple. Staged in 2006 for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival, Supple’s ambitious eight-language Dream, with a cast of 23 actors, musicians and dancers from the Indian sub-continent, offered an exciting reworking of the play for an audience whose familiarity with Shakespeare’s work could not be taken for granted. Many critics expressed the view that this production was of seminal importance in the contemporary Shakespearean performance context. Michael Billington in the Guardian called it ‘a play of multiple transformations all wonderfully realized in this visionary sub-continental version’, while for Nicholas De Jongh, in The Evening Standard, the Indian Dream’s vitality and freshness ‘recovered that sense of magic and enchantment of which the play has been purged by Anglo-Saxon directors’ (vide Tatlow). That said, Christopher Luscombe’s Regent’s Park production, in the rain-drenched 2007 summer season, of ‘a deeply English Dream’, as Time Out put it, demonstrated that a more restrained form of magic is not beyond the reach of the indigenous director and company. The reason that it was 120 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 121 ‘impossible to withstand the shy but sure magic of this honest, determined Dream’ (Time Out) may well be an index of the play’s constant powers of self-renewal and regeneration, and its ability to transcend specific instances of kitsch and cliché in the production design (as was certainly the case in Luscombe’s conceptualisation – especially the ever-problematic fairies, which, to be fair, constitute a creative headache for most Anglo-Saxon directors). We may conclude that open-air productions of the Dream, whether traditional Western-style or Asian, or a mixture of the two, generally succeed in discovering this pastoral play’s magical propensities more than indoor productions, where arguably it is easier to fail. However, such a view would be an over-simplification, since many Asian adaptations work equally well in diverse and distinctly un-pastoral venues, as I have witnessed in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Incidentally, I would include Globe Theatre productions in the category of open-air performances, and it is here that visiting groups performing Shakespeare kathakali, kyogen, xiqu and other Asian genres, find a natural home and audience. It is very much in the context of this stimulating recent tradition of Asian Shakespeare, and of the Dream in particular, that we should see the Korean Yohangza production. ‘Yohangza’ means ‘voyager’ in Korean, as director Jung Ung Yang points out. ‘Life is a journey and through the journey of life we meet a lot of people,’ he adds – a comment that seems pertinent to the journeys of our dream-lives and of Shakespeare’s own Dream. First staged in Korea and Japan in 2003, and later at the Seoul Performing Arts Market in 2005, the adaptation was well placed to attract international attention and gain promotion and proliferation in the Asia region and further afield. It has been a critical success at various international arts festivals, including Hong Kong’s in March 2007. Jung Ung Yang professes not only great admiration for Shakespeare’s plays, but also particular attraction to the tragedies, like so many other Asian directors and adaptors. When asked during the post-performance, meet-the-audience discussion why he chose the Dream rather than Lear or Othello, he said with disarming simplicity and, one suspects, playful disingenuousness, ‘because it is a very romantic play and I am a very romantic person’. As with Britten, Balanchine, Brook and other highly creative adaptors of Shakespeare’s play, the Korean company’s version propagates the Dream meme by adding to it and altering it, whilst at the same time encouraging the viewer to return to the original text as a point of reference. One of Tatlow’s (see Tatlow: 35–50) major criticisms of conventionally prettified and reductive readings of the Dream by actors and directors over the centuries, and even nowadays, is that such versions are fundamentally at odds with the Shakespearean text and subtext. For him the play attests to the society’s unconscious and its repression of anxieties (the Elizabethan society originally), including anxieties about female sexuality, about paternity and progeny, about controlling nature (human and non-human) and the undermining of the male prerogative – all the more so in the era of a female monarch. The comedic, burlesque elements may help to repress Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ 121 STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 122 those fears on one level, but they can also be used to highlight such gender insecurities, which is precisely how Jung Ung Yang and Yohangza approached the text. If an Elizabethan audience, or perhaps a more reactionary male audience, were to see this production, their worst nightmares would seem to be realised. But perhaps we should not congratulate ourselves too much about our more progressive and broad-minded attitudes, since this Korean Dream never allows us to sit back secure in our cultural identities and assumptions. It is a good Dream, theatrically speaking, precisely because it is a vaguely disquieting Dream, in which one can quite literally feel targeted or even isolated amid the comic revelry. It is always edgy, and predicated, like street theatre or clowning, on what is happening now, and what might happen if you don’t pay careful attention. The traditional Korean theatre setting in that respect is misleading. As Young Joo-Choi has commented in the article ‘Tracking Young Directors in Korea Today’, ‘what differentiates Yang from his elders is that he adapts traditional culture without an historical or social consciousness. His purpose in adapting traditional culture into his style is not so much the implied interest in his nation, but an interest in aesthetic images that can transcend local languages and communicate directly with other cultures’ (2006: 75). This translates directly into a two-way communicative aesthetic, intended for audience consumption and delight both at home and abroad. Thus the theatre style is to welcome the audience into the theatrical event, as though into a shrine, according to Korean traditions of hospitality. The stage itself is designed as more of a house or home (which picks up on the ‘bless this house’ motif of the Dream’s final act), although there are strong hints of trees and nature combined with the pine-wood set. The central space is open and semiotically flexible, at once a living room in which the actors receive their audience and a site of action and movement. Dramatic action is choreographed in a fusion of dance, song, physical comedy and dialogue that borrows lightly from key lines and speeches of the original. The production idiom is folkloric and essentially traditional Korean, as is the visual symbolism of the colour scheme – coloured robes for the lovers’ opening and closing sequences, but off-white for both fairies and humans for the central body of the play, signifying both the dream state and Buddhist purity and unworldliness. Although the actors have specifically designated roles, they step out of them at various points to move upstage to the music area in order to play the traditional Korean folk instruments employed by the company. These consist of a double-headed drum, a bamboo flute, and other gongs and percussion instruments, including a xylophone-like instrument that is used to enhance the actors’ gestures. The music is an integral part of the production, as it is in the various western adaptations we have reviewed. Likewise, it is specially written for the production by musical director Eun Jeong Kim, with parts adapted from traditional Korean or western musical elements. Despite the director’s avowed spirit of hospitality, the audience is greeted by the cheekily amusing, but also slightly threatening, antics of 122 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 123 the two white-faced goblins or dokkebi – mythological Korean folkloric creatures – representing the role of Puck. They are not above frightening or mocking the audience, or even ridiculing them with scatological tricks that are reminiscent of Shakespearean bawdy. Among other acts of interaction with the audience, some distinctly unsettling, the twin Pucks distribute fluorescent wrist-bands as a sign of welcome. This splitting or twinning of the role is not as arbitrary as it first appears; Puck is alluded to as both Robin Goodfellow and Hobgoblin in the same speech by Titania’s fairy in Act 2 Scene 1, and admits to all of the appellations. The doubling of this role works perfectly, since the two sprites play their tricks in unison and entirely in dumb-show. The duality of the Puck role actually enhances the capacity of this character – in many ways the source of the comedic mischief in Shakespeare’s original – for monkey business. It also facilitates the symmetry of movement in the dance-like sequences and ensemble work that characterises the confusions and subsequent rituals of the production. Dokkebi (goblin), when broken down, can be rendered as Dot (fire – a recurrent image for romantic ardour in Shakespeare’s text) and Gabi (father), and these are the two names given to the Titania and Oberon figures, respectively. There is a crucial difference in their plot functions, however, because the roles are reversed. Here it is Dot (a female Oberon) who orders the Pucks to teach her philandering husband (a male Titania) a lesson, rather than the other way round. One rationale for this switch is that, in the Korean psyche, it is the women who keep the men in line, and that the woman’s role signifies domestic harmony in the traditional Korean order. The transformation of Bottom, not into an ass but a pig, is likewise in conformity with Korean animal symbolism, which sees the pig as preternaturally stupid – more suggestive of stupidity than the donkey – but also a harbinger of good fortune. Variations on the original mechanicals element are far more radical than substitution of pig’s head for ass’s head. ‘Sweet Bully Bottom’ is metamorphosed by the director into a comic old woman wandering in the mountains in search of a hundred-year-old ginseng. She has no ‘lads’ or ‘hearts’ for company, and no play to rehearse. The visually grotesque Shakespearean coupling of Titania with Bottom complete with ass’s head is paralleled by the absurd sight of the Fairy King falling in love with a gluttonous and uncouth country woman with the face of a pig. Nevertheless, in spite of her apparent humiliation, Ajumi (Bottom) eventually finds the rare ginseng herb she has sought. In Yang’s conception it is a just reward for unwittingly helping Dot to punish the lascivious Gabi, for whom the punishment, when he awakes from his dream, definitely fits the crime. Like Bottom, Ajumi seems only vaguely aware of what has happened to her, as in a dream one cannot quite recall. Furthermore, in Yang’s concept the love confusions are triggered by the scent of the herb, rather than the juice of the flower, illustrating the significant shift of sensory focus in the adaptation – from eyes to nose – which is very much a reflection of the director’s policy of creative independence. Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ 123 STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 124 Audience response to the production has been extremely positive. It doesn’t require a Korean audience to appreciate the warmth and simplicity of Yang’s approach to theatre. The theatre, for Yohangza, is a place of fun and humour as well as a meeting-place for audience and artist, just as the bustle of the traditional market was a meeting-place for vendors and buyers. As regards the company’s use of their own nation’s folklore and tradition, it seems well justified in view of Shakespeare’s skilful integration of nature, folklore and mythology in The Dream. Last but not least we are conscious of the relative de-emphasis on speech and dialogue in this production. The musicality of the iambic and trochaic rhythms of Shakespearean verse is transposed to the unfamiliar but effective idiom of song with music accentuating simple speech at key moments. Like many other Asian-aesthetic Shakespeare adaptations, this version blends indigenous cultural and aesthetic components, entirely foreign to Shakespeare’s world, with narrative, creative elements of the original to produce a seamless work that is both new and old. Conclusion: ‘And the blots of nature’s hand, shall not in their issue stand’ I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours Bob Dylan For a play that is, like much of Shakespeare’s festive comedy, ultimately concerned with harmony, reconciliation and, in a number of clear textual references, regeneration and progeny, it is fitting that we should assess the play’s success in regenerating itself. That Shakespeare was concerned with the reception of his work is evident in many of his concluding scenes and his verse imprecations for audience’s understanding of his intentions – A Midsummer Night’s Dream certainly being no exception. He is also concerned with the relationship between higher truth, dramatic illusion and poetic imagination. The onward transmission of his imagination in the Dream through various adaptations for stage and screen is indisputably successful, judging by the work’s continuing popularity. The sheer diversity of memetic variations on Shakespeare’s original theme, from Purcell to Jung Ung Yang, is proof that this play – perhaps more than most in the Shakespeare repertoire – transcends cultural boundaries. Its satisfying dramatic design and the accomplished fusion of its hybrid interlocking elements is impressive by any standards. No matter what elements of the Shakespeare work are fore-grounded and what back-grounded or sidelined in any given adaptation, the Dream renews itself through the widest possible range of authenticating dramatic conventions. Arguing against individual consciousness in favour of the higher power of the meme-plex, Susan Blackmore expresses the anti-essentialist-humanist view thus: ‘The creative achievements of human culture are the products of memetic evolution, just as the creative achievements of the biological world are the products of genetic evolution. Replicator power is the only design 124 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 125 process we know of that can do the job, and does it. We do not need conscious human selves messing about in there as well’ (1999: 240). This contestation is nothing if not challenging to notions of individual genius and autonomy of creation. But perhaps Theseus’ comments on the ‘seething brains’ of lovers and poets needs to be understood through Hippolyta’s reply: ‘And all their minds transfigur’d so together/More witnesseth than fancy’s images/And grows to something of great constancy’. Like collective memory, there seems, as Hippolyta/Shakespeare acknowledges, something more at work than individual genius in these acts of cultural transmission. Whether one accepts or rejects what may appear to the sceptic as the pseudo-scientific explanations of meme theory, it is clear that the cultural propagation of key cultural artefacts in the history of human culture, of which A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of the supreme examples, cannot be explained by individual arbitrary acts of consciousness alone. ‘Transfigured together’, the various memes propagated by Shakespeare’s hybrid play and its diverse sources amount to a remarkable achievement. Productions like Yohangza’s demonstrate the fecundity and potential in the work for regenerating the existing meme set, if one chooses to describe the work in these terms, and producing even more fascinating variants, without in any way diminishing the power and capacity to please inherent in the original text. Works cited Benjamin, Walter ([1973] 1992), Illuminations, Hannah Arendt (ed.), London: Fontana Press. Blackmore, Susan (1999), The Meme Machine, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bristol, Michael D. (1996), Big-Time Shakespeare, London and New York: Routledge. Brooks, Harold F. (ed.) (1979), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, London: Methuen (Arden edition). Chesterman, Andrew (1997), Memes of Translation: The Spread of Ideas in Translation Theory, Amsterdam: Benjamins. Dawkins, Richard (1976), The Selfish Gene, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ——— (1999), Introduction to Susan Blackmore’s The Meme Machine. ——— (2006), The God Delusion, London: Transworld Publishers. Fischlin, Daniel and Mark Fortier (2000), Adaptations of Shakespeare, London: Routledge. Jakobson, Roman (2000), ‘On linguistic aspects of translation’, in L. Venuti (ed.), The Translation Studies Reader, London: Routledge, 113–118. Sanders, Julie (2006), Adaptation and Appropriation, London and New York: Routledge (New Critical Idiom Series). Steiner, George (1998), After Babel – Aspects of Language and Translation, (3rd edn.), Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tatlow, Anthony (1995), Shakespeare in Comparison, Hong Kong: Department of Comparative Literature, University of Hong Kong. Wells, Stanley (ed.) (1967), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Young Joo-Choi (2006), ‘Tracking Young Directors in Korea Today’ in Hyung-Ki Kim and Seon-Ok Lim (eds.), Sketching in Contemporary Korean Theatre, Seoul: Theatre and Man Publishing Company/I.A.T.C./Korea. Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ 125 STP-28-2-02-Ingham 4/18/08 2:37 PM Page 126 House Programmes Yohangza Theatre Company, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hong Kong Arts Festival, 2007. Teatro alla Scala, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hong Kong, 27–29 October 2006. Website http:/ Review/Listing Time Out, July 4–10, 2007 – Open-air Theatre, p. 132. Suggested citation Ingham, M. (2008), ‘Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in “translation”’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 28: 2, pp. 111–126, doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.111/1 Contributor details Mike Ingham has a Modern Languages tertiary background in the UK. He now teaches on the English Studies programme at the Department of English in Lingnan University, Hong Kong. He is interested in many aspects of performing, particularly drama, poetry and music, and is a founder member of Theatre Action, a Hong Kong-based theatre group that specialises in action research on more literary drama texts. As well as doing scholarly work on theatre in performance and cinema, he directs theatre in Hong Kong and writes performing arts criticism for local media. His books include Staging Fictions (Edwin Mellen Press, 2004) and Hong Kong: A Cultural and Literary History (Signal/HKU Press/OUP, 2007). E-mail: [email protected] 126 Mike Ingham STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 127 Studies in Theatre and Performance Volume 28 Number 2 © 2008 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.127/1 Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty military exercise to twentieth-century actor training protocol Daniel Mroz Abstract Keywords This article describes the development and emigration of a Chinese military exercise complex called taijiquan. It traces the genealogy of this practice from sixteenthcentury China to twenty-first-century North American and European professional and university theatre programmes. It provides a systemic description of the protocols of taijiquan training in order to analyse its advantages and limitations in the contexts of contemporary actor training. Finally, by offering concrete examples of its application by different theatre artists, it presents a portrait of both its current use and future potential as a major component of actor training. taijiquan contemporary actor training devised physical theatre Battery Opera One Reed Theatre Ensemble Introduction This article describes the development and emigration of a Chinese military exercise complex called taijiquan.1 I shall trace the genealogy of this practice in order to shed some light on how a system of military exercises from sixteenth-century China has become part of the training offered to North American and European actors by many contemporary professional and university theatre programmes. Folk theory would have us believe that ‘Tai Chi’, the slow exercise practised by Chinese people in the early hours of the day in parks around the world is an ancient, holistic system of self-care created many millennia ago by the gentle practitioners of Daoism, China’s indigenous religion and philosophy. This view is supported by countless popular books on taijiquan and by the popular culture surrounding its transmission in contemporary Europe and North America. Taijiquan is presented as an archaic and quasireligious system of movement training concerned with health maintenance and personal enlightenment. By tracing taijiquan’s evolution, from its roots in the Ming dynasty to its present incarnation in actor training programmes, I intend to demonstrate that this perception of taijiquan is a recent one, created by a romantic nationalist movement among late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Chinese intellectuals and furthered by the Human Potential Movement in late twentieth-century North America. By providing a systemic description of the protocols of taijiquan training I will offer STP 28 (2) 127–145 © Intellect Ltd 2008 127 1. In this article I use the Hanyu Pinyin standard phonetic system to represent Pitonghua (Mandarin, the official Chinese dialect) pronunciation of Chinese characters. Pinyin is used consistently in translations published in China. Readers may be more familiar with the earlier system of Romanisation, the Wade-Giles, which unfortunately did not set an international standard and is falling into disuse. Nevertheless, older publications using Wade-Giles will refer to taijiquan as T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Daoism as Taoism and romanise such terms as tuishou as t’ui sho. STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 128 an analysis of its advantages and limitations in the contexts of contemporary actor training, independent of the discourse of the spurious folk theories surrounding it. Finally, by offering concrete examples of its application by different theatre artists, I hope to sketch an accurate portrait of both its current use and future potential as a major component of actor training. Ming dynasty roots The earliest written records of taijiquan indicate that it was a synthesis of military calisthenics and combative dills put together by one Chen Wangting (1600–1680). Chen was a successful military officer in charge of the garrison of Wen County in the Henan province of China between 1641 and 1644. With the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, his advancement through the military hierarchy was blocked by the change of regime and he retired to his family home of Chenjiagou, the village of the Chen family, also in Henan province (Sim and Gaffney: 12). In the early years of the Qing Dynasty, Chen synthesised a new system of martial training for the militia of his home village. It was based upon the best training techniques that he had come across during his military career. His major source was a military training manual authored by a Ming dynasty general named Qi Jiguang (1528–1587). Composed in 1561, Qi’s book, Ji Xiao Xin Shu or the New Book of Effective Techniques, is itself a synthesis of sixteen different military training systems popular in the Ming dynasty (Sim and Gaffney:15 and Wile: 7). In the Ming and early Qing dynasties soldiers were trained for battle by executing group manoeuvres in formation. They spent virtually no time on unarmed tactics and their fighting training consisted of countless repetitions of simple movements with weapons such as the spear and the sabre. Chen Wangting’s principal contribution to the story of the Chinese martial art is his development of incrementally resistant partner training. Soldiers who might be called up for active duty at any time cannot engage in training that might leave them injured and unfit for combat. This meant that the peacetime training of Ming dynasty soldiers was limited to the rote repetition of short, set sequences of attack and defence with battlefield weapons. As fighting techniques could not be practised with anything approaching battlefield intensity without the risk of injuring the troops, improvisation and spontaneity could not be sanctioned. Improvisation and spontaneity are the two qualities most needed by combatants who will be faced with the unpredictability of actual combat. The absence of improvisation and spontaneity in training meant that Ming dynasty Chinese soldiers had little chance of improving their skills through safe practice. Chen Wangting’s solution to this dilemma was a methodology by which soldiers could practise fighting techniques in a spontaneous and improvised way that resembled actual combat, without running the risk of serious injury. This practice is called tuishou, which is usually translated as ‘push hands’. It refers to a training game played by two partners who practise body movements that generate force while keeping their forearms in contact. 128 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 129 The goal for each player is to maintain control of their posture in the face of perturbations provided by their partner. To the casual observer, the practice looks like a kind of wrestling done standing up. Tuishou practice begins very slowly with minimal force and allows the players to learn how to defend against the four major types of attack found in the Chinese martial art, which are referred to as the si ji: grappling (na), throwing (shuai), kicking (ti) and striking (da). As the partners become more and more used to absorbing or reversing the forces directed at them, they can gradually increase the intensity of the game until they are providing each other with significant amounts of resistance and impellent force.2 Thus, Chen Wangting developed a method of training for fighting that allowed for improvisation and spontaneity and minimised the risk of injury. Importantly, it allowed older, more experienced practitioners to maintain their fighting form into middle age and to progressively refine it over their lifetime. Chen Wangting also devised armed versions of tuishou based on similar principles (Sim and Gaffney: 16). He also synthesised a series of solo movement-training sequences, which are called taolu. Taijiquan, in Chen Wangting’s lifetime and beyond, became firmly established as a training system for a rural civilian militia. It remained confined to the Chen family village until sometime between 1799 and 1853 when one Yang Lu Chan (1799–1871) journeyed to Chenjiagou in order to study martial art with Chen Wangting’s descendant Chen Changxing (1771–1853). Many legends have grown up around Yang’s studies under Chen Changxing and the transmission remains mysterious for the simple reason that the taolu and tuishou of the taijiquan taught by Yang Lu Chan’s descendants is quite different from that practised by the Chen family. From Chen village to Beijing Itemising the structural differences between the Yang style of taijiquan and the original Chen style, and speculating on the reasons for these differences, are beyond the scope of this article. What is especially significant about Yang’s studies with Chen is his subsequent teaching of his own modified system of taijiquan in Beijing after 1851. Because of his great skill as a fighter, Yang was much sought after as a teacher. His students included the bodyguards of the Manchurian rulers of Imperial China. Yang, an illiterate fighter in a society that prized literacy above all else, was suddenly exposed to a class of people he had never met before, the upper class Chinese intelligentsia who, at the turn of the nineteenth century, had a very particular cultural agenda. Late nineteenth-century China faced internal corruption and external colonial pressure. The native Han population had been subjugated by the Manchurian rulers of the Qing dynasty, and these rulers themselves faced the combined military and economic aggression of Russia, the United States of America, Britain and France. Prior to the nineteenth century, the literate governing classes of China looked down on martial art. China, after all, was an empire that for hundreds of years had been governed by Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 129 2. Contemporary presentations of tuishou vary widely in intensity and structure. Practice can range from flowing and graceful choreographed exchanges to intense competitive grappling reminiscent of such combat sports as Olympic wrestling, Japanese judo and Russian sambo. STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 130 an intellectual class to whose authority the military deferred. Fighting was for professional soldiers, bodyguards, peasant militias and bandits. What were the upper classes of late nineteenth-century Beijing doing practising taijiquan with an illiterate ruffian like Yang Lu Chan? Even more curious, why did they begin to attribute all sorts of healing properties, Confucian values and Daoist meditative qualities to it? Douglas Wile suggests that the disempowered Chinese élite created a ‘holistic’ myth about taijiquan in response to their existential situation. To confirm their cultural identity, they brought together things that had previously been separate and even antagonistic: Confucianism and Daoism, healing exercises and martial art were united under the banner of silent resistance to the forces that besieged them. Training was not for the purpose of actual insurrection – personal practice of taijiquan was sufficient revolution in itself. Rather, the élite could rely on an embodied practice to confirm their personal and ethnic resistance to the overwhelming forces of history (Wile: xvii). This sudden declaration of the perennial and holistic nature of taijiquan was supported by reference to an anonymous and supposedly ancient text that mysteriously appeared soon after Yang’s arrival in Beijing. These writings are called the taiji jing, or taiji classics, and they provided the Beijing intelligentsia with textual support for their claims. These writings could not have been produced by the illiterate Yang and are not found in Chenjiagou, the home of the Chen family style. The taiji classics were likely authored by Wu Yuxiang (1812–1880), one of Yang’s erudite students. Wu did two retrospectively brilliant things. He wrote a text that described taijiquan as a synthesis of native Han philosophies and practices and he presented it as being an ancient document of divine origin, revealed to a long-dead Daoist sage in meditation (Wile: i). Indeed the prefix taiji, which means ‘undifferentiated unity’ and refers to one of the phases of creation in Daoist metaphysics, was likely coined at this time, over 300 years after Chen Wangting’s original synthesis. In the early years of the twentieth century, various students of Yang Lu Chan founded their own versions of taijiquan. Public policy during the early Chinese Republican Period (1912–1918) advocated that the people should take part in what was called ‘self-strengthening’, and the practice of taijiquan spread widely due to state sanction and support (Wile: 14). By the 1930s, five major varieties of taijiquan could be identified: the original Chen, the Yang, the Wu, the Hao and the Sun schools. These different schools of taijiquan served a spectrum of needs that ran from militia training, to bodyguard skills, to personal self-defence, to health enhancement, to national identity construction, with plenty of overlap between categories. Taijiquan and the founding of the People’s Republic With the establishment of the Communist People’s Republic of China in 1949, the ideological and functional nature of taijiquan changed yet again. In 1956 the State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports of China 130 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 131 introduced the National 24 Form of taijiquan, a radically simplified and shortened version of the taolu of the Yang style of taijiquan. Recall that traditional taijiquan practice is composed of solo training or taolu for coordination training and conditioning and of tui shou, or partner training, for combat. In constituting this new form, the Communist government of China made choreographic choices with ideological implications. The postures of the National 24 Form do not adapt well to actual combat. The form takes four to six minutes to execute, down from the thirty minutes it takes to perform the traditional Yang family taolu, thereby reducing the level of conditioning it provides. The National 24 Form was taught not to individuals for solo practice, but to large groups for collective training. The popular image of hundreds of Chinese people training outside, dressed in matching clothes, executing exactly the same movements in unison does not represent the tradition of martial practice in China as much as it does the Communist ideals of collective unity and efficiency – it has far more in common with Taylorism than with Daoism! Finally, and most significantly, the State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports de-emphasised the practice of tui shou combat training to such an extent that the practice of taijiquan became synonymous with the practice of the taolu, or solo exercise, for its own sake (Sim and Gaffney: 27). The new National 24 Form of taijiquan fulfilled only one of the possible functions of the earlier traditional forms. Communist style taijiquan was not useful for training militia, bodyguards or private citizens in self-defence. It was too short and simple to contribute meaningfully to health enhancement and physical conditioning. It could no longer be related to traditional Chinese religious cosmology or Daoist meditation, as the Communists viewed such things as primitive and reactionary. The only thing that it remained useful for was national identity construction, an identity dictated by the Communist party. Although the National 24 continues to be taught, practitioners of the traditional family styles are very much present in martial arts in China today. However, during the devastation of the Cultural Revolution and the period immediately afterwards, the traditionalists practised in almost total secrecy. Taijiquan in Taiwan and beyond In the unrest leading up to the Communist victory, many nationalist Chinese martial artists fled to Taiwan. Among them was Zheng Manqing (1900–1975) a Chinese doctor known for his calligraphy, poetry, painting and taijiquan. Zheng studied Yang style taijiquan with Yang Lu Chan’s grandson, Yang Cheng Fu, in Beijing from 1929 to 1936. Zheng’s influence would likely have remained confined to the Chinese martial art communities of Taiwan and Southeast Asia had he not attracted the attention of Robert W. Smith (b. 1926), an American aficionado of combat sports. Smith worked for the CIA and was posted to Taiwan where he studied taijiquan under Zheng from 1959 to 1962, an unusual honour for a foreigner in those days (Smith 1995: 51). Smith became the first Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 131 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 132 Western writer to document the Chinese martial art in a thorough fashion and his many books and articles on the subject are considered authoritative (see, for example, Smith 1999). Zheng Manqing described himself to Smith as an eccentric, or qiguai. Not a typical martial artist, Zheng felt that classical Chinese painting and taijiquan shared common principles, a seemingly dilettantish position made credible by his unusual skill in both disciplines. It is perhaps due to this eclecticism and his friendship with Smith that he accepted French and American invitations to travel and show his artwork in the West. On his return from an exhibition at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris in 1964, Zheng visited New York City where he was welcomed by members of the Chinese community and by American ‘artists, literati and taiji aficionados’ (Smith 1995: 61). By 1965, Zheng had moved to America, settling on Riverside Drive in New York City and teaching in a studio in the Bowery. Zheng welcomed all, including Americans, artists, eccentrics, dropouts, hippies and pot-smokers (Smith 1999: 278). One can imagine what a romantic figure Zheng must have cut, dressed in traditional Chinese robes, sporting a dapper goatee and curling side-locks, surrounded by adoring Chinese and Western students. Along with his unusual personality and innovative choice of students, Zheng appears to have made significant choices in his presentation of taijiquan to North Americans. Firstly, as explained in detail by American taijiquan teacher J. Justin Meehan, Zheng’s recorded execution of the Yang style taolu differs significantly from the Yang style taolu demonstrated by Yang family heir Yang Zhenduo (b.1926), in that Zheng’s version is far less vigorous and athletically demanding (Online Source: Meehan, J.). Secondly, as explained by American taijiquan teacher Scott M. Rodell, Zheng may also have de-emphasised the martial partner exercises of taijiquan in his North American teaching: While cannily balancing the martial and civil components in his own life and practice, Zheng’s writings often tend to emphasize the spiritual, meditative, and medicinal aspects of taijiquan. Further, when teaching in New York, Zheng adopted a relatively passive attitude toward the development of martial skill among his students. (Online Source: Rodell, S.) Although Zheng was definitely a leading author of the popular perception of taijiquan in North America, the rapid spread of taijiquan there was facilitated by two aspects of educational and popular culture that were ascendant in the 1970s, the idea of interdisciplinary studies and the experiential workshop. Taijiquan’s North American incarnation Interdisciplinary studies and the experiential workshop became the backbone of the Human Potential Movement, a North American cultural phenomenon born at an alternative educational institution called the Esalen Institute. Located on the California coast near Big Sur, Esalen was founded 132 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 133 by Michael Murphy and Dick Price in 1962 with the goal of integrating insights from a wide variety of traditional and marginal disciplines, East and West. The Human Potential Movement was a cultural and intellectual trend that emerged during the 1960s. It combined ideas derived from developments in Western psychology with the philosophies and practices of numerous Asian meditative and religious systems in order to develop the extraordinary abilities found in leading artists, intellectuals, athletes and religious figures both living and historical. Inspired strongly by the work of psychologist Abraham Maslow, the participants in the Human Potential Movement sought to synthesise from contemporary and traditional sources actual practices that would lead to an exceptional quality of life, characterised not only by peak experiences but also filled with joy, creativity and contentment (see Kripal: passim). At Esalen, therapy, education and recreation were combined in experiential workshops that offered instruction in such Asian disciplines as hatha yoga, meditation and taijiquan (Wilber: 257–8). One of the most influential tajiquan teachers at Esalen was Chungliang ‘Al’ Huang. Huang’s teaching approach emerged from the emphasis at Esalen on the potential interrelationships between diverse Asian disciplines and the primacy of the experiential. Given the Human Potential Movement’s concern with personal happiness, creativity and fulfilment, Huang’s presentation of taijiquan built on the holistic myth created at the turn of the century in China, and updated it for 1970s North America: Tai ji is just a Chinese word for something that appears in many forms of discipline. Yoga, in essence, is tai ji. Zen is tai ji. Tai ji is what is. No more, no less. (Huang 1973: 11) Furthermore . . . Tai Ji is a universal medium for the cultivation of Body, Mind and Spirit. It is natural. It is perennial. It is for everyone, of all ages. It is easy to learn. It can be joyful and exciting to practice. It is a dance of life to be treasured. It is for you. (Huang 1989: 7) While reinforcing a perception that taijiquan was ‘oriental’ and ‘mysterious’, by refusing to define it, Huang also de-emphasised the importance of the five traditional lineages and implied that taijiquan is first and foremost an individualistic expression: [When asked] ‘What do you practice?’, I say ‘I practice the Huang style.’ My style comes out of the other styles, and I have to develop it to the point that it becomes me. (Huang 1973: 12) Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 133 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 134 Finally, he transformed tuishou from an exercise in combat training into a practice concerned with settling the emotional and social conflicts of particular individuals: I used this one time in a couples workshop, and I practice this with my wife when we feel crossed and in conflict. She’s a very headstrong woman and sometimes when we disagree I say, ‘Suzanne, let’s do t’ui sho.’ She says, ‘ I don’t want to do t’ui sho; I’ve had enough of your encounter things.’ (Huang 1973: 70) If Zheng Manqing brought a taijiquan that was still very much culturally Chinese to a cosmopolitan public, Huang and those who have followed in his footsteps can be seen to have created a whole new, specifically North American, incarnation of the art. Today, taijiquan instruction in North America exists along a continuum. At one end are the representatives of the traditional five lineages, who look upon the taijiquan that they teach as a martial art with classical standards of execution and an emphasis on combat training. At the other end of the spectrum are teachers who present a gentle exercise complex that offers students an opportunity for selfexpression, contains little or no partner training and is legitimised by its supposed link to the exotic and archaic spirituality of Daoism. It also appears that the majority of North American practitioners, regardless of their orientation, eschew the purely martial end of this continuum, placing greater emphasis on solo taolu practice than on partner tuishou, a tendency that also holds true in the teaching of taijiquan in performing arts institutions. Early use of Taijiquan in actor training programmes As Professor Robert Dillon of Southeast Missouri State University puts it: Since the sixties the notion of ‘martial arts for actors’ has gone from being alternative in every sense of the word to being mainstream. Edwin Wilson, in his introductory text, The Theatre Experience, mentions ‘martial arts’ as actor training tools (121) and discusses tai chi [sic] in some depth (119-120); you can’t get much more mainstream than that. (Online Source: Dillon) Dillon’s perspicacious essay on martial art in actor training describes, quite accurately, the state of taijiquan practice in North America: Tai chi [sic] is almost totally a solo practice. . . . Tai chi has pretty much lost—except in certain schools and with certain teachers—many of its combative applications in favor of a Taoist-flavored and broadly defined ‘spiritualism’; tai chi systems are mostly ‘about’ self-discovery, wellness, and self-expression. (Online Source: Dillon) 134 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 135 The section of Edwin Wilson’s The Theatre Experience that deals with taijiquan concords perfectly with Dillon’s description: Unlike some martial arts, tai chi [sic] is not aggressive: it is a graceful, gentle exercise regimen performed widely by men, women and children in China. It has spread to other countries where it is sometimes practiced in conjunction with meditation or body awareness. The movements of tai chi are stylised and often seem to be carried out in slow motion. Among other things, tai chi requires concentration and control, both valuable qualities for a performer. (Wilson : 12) Wilson goes on to say that taijiquan is useful to actors because it helps them with ‘centering’. ‘When performers are able to “center” themselves’, he says, ‘they achieve a balance, a freedom and a flexibility they could rarely find otherwise’ (Wilson: 127). The idea of using a combative exercise system in the training of actors is not new. Countless traditional performance forms from around the world derive their physical culture and choreography from martial movement. For example, Chinese jingju (‘Beijing Opera’) employs martial exercises adapted from the bei shaolin, the northern systems of Chinese martial art, as a source of both performance choreography and performer preparation (Yao: 21). And, while such techniques as boxing, historical fencing and stage combat have been used in twentieth-century North American and European actor training, they have never been described in such existentially portentous terms as the language Wilson uses to describe taijiquan. The perception that taijiquan solo taolu training has a profound transformational outcome can be traced to both the nineteenth-century Chinese self-strengthening holistic synthesis and to the twentieth-century American Human Potential Movement. Furthermore, the aesthetic innovations of American performing artists that began in the 1950s created a receptive atmosphere for taijiquan’s adoption as an actor training protocol. Arnold Aronson describes these innovations as being ‘a rebellion against the mainstream commercial system and the utter rejection of the status quo’ (Aronson: 3). This new movement was responsible for the eventual erasure of the boundaries between theatre, dance, art and music and, a half-century later, allows critics and theorists to describe contemporary theatre as being characterised by a ‘movement away from the dominance of the word to the primacy of the moving body . . .’ (Mitter and Shevtsova: xviii). As theatre artists became increasingly preoccupied with the lived experience and training of the body, they reached out to a host of movement disciplines, and not least among these was taijiquan, in its multiplicity of North American incarnations, from the personal expression of the Human Potential Movement to the martial art of the traditionalists. Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 135 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 136 The first major North American theatre training institution to employ taijiquan in its acting programme was the University of Madison-Wisconsin’s Asian/Experimental Theatre Program, founded by Professor A.C. Scott in 1963 (Zarrilli 1995: 182). A pioneering scholar of Chinese performance forms, Scott had studied a shortened version of the taolu of Wu-style taijiquan from an unnamed teacher in Hong Kong in the 1950s (Online Source: Zarrilli). Later, in the early 1970s, the theatre programme of the California Institute of the Arts, under the guidance of Herbert Blau, hired Marshall Ho’o, who taught student actors a shortened version of the taolu of the Yang style of taijiquan (Blau: 122). And from here, smoothly and quietly, taijiquan became an accepted part of theatre training. Although an historical overview provides an understanding of how the current perception of taijiquan was created, a systemic approach is needed to understand its actual potential in actor training. Systemic analysis of Taijiquan training In his classification of human athletic and movement activities, Russian kinesiologist L.P. Matveyev proposes three overall groupings: monostructural exercises characterised by relatively stable forms, polystructural exercises, characterised by variable forms, and complex exercises, made up of combinations of mono and polystructural exercises. Examples of monostructural, polystructural and complex exercises are, respectively, weightlifting or endurance running (mono), team games or sporting combat (poly) and combined events, such as decathlons or aesthetic sports such as gymnastics and acrobatics (complex) (Matveyev 1977, cited in Siff: 432). According to Matveyev’s system, taijiquan practice is a complex exercise. Tuishou, conforming as it does to the category of sporting combat, is a polystructural exercise, while taolu practice, containing, as it traditionally does, virtuosic feats of coordination and motor skill, is an aesthetic sport. In combining the characteristics of both combat and aesthetic sports, taijiquan potentially offers actors benefits in two key areas, their psychophysical coordination with respect to themselves and their psychophysical coordination in relationship to a fellow player. The moment where the gains of an exercise complex such as taijiquan are applied in a performance-specific venue is referred to in kinesiology as conversion (Bompa and Carrera: 24). All aspects of actor training have their moment of conversion, where drills and skills have to be applied in context. The measure of a training protocol’s utility is in how effectively conversion takes place. I suggest that the effectiveness of taijquan’s conversion to actor training protocol be evaluated in terms of the overall psychophysiological effects of both taolu and tuishou training and in terms of how these effects address the needs of actors performing in a variety of types of theatre. Yang Yang (b. 1961) is a teacher of the Hunyuan style of taijiquan, which is a modern branch of the Chen style, and a doctoral candidate in kinesiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He describes the process of 136 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 137 learning taijiquan taolu as being concerned with familiarising the practitioner with ‘natural’ movement, where natural refers to: . . . the orientation or angle of the body joints relative to the direction of movement . . . If the body’s joints are not naturally aligned with the intended direction of movement, two outcomes are certain: the force exerted will be weak (or even non-existent), and the unnatural alignment will eventually result in injury. (Yang: 83) It is important to understand the nuanced use of the word natural in this example. Because of the degree of coordination involved, natural movement in taijiquan will necessarily be experienced by the novice as complicated, uncomfortable and artificial, far from the sensations of everyday movement that the term ‘natural’ conjures up. Taijiquan movement is described by kinesiology as voluntary movement, or movement governed by learned motor programmes. Motor programmes are represented in the brain as ‘an abstract plan (as opposed to a series of joint movements and muscle contractions)’ (Yang: 111). Thus, in learning taolu, students adopt a motor programme designed to maximise their movement efficiency. The effects of this adoption are seen in several areas. Increased endurance strength in the legs results in improved balance. The repeated practice of sophisticated movements yields improvement in the attribute of coordination. Because of the coordination of the legs with the movement of the torso, an apparent increase in absolute strength is also an effect of training. Sustained taolu training also produces a phenomenon known as relaxation response, wherein the activity of the sympathetic nervous system is reduced and the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system increases (Yang: 68). The sympathetic nervous system is dominant during perceived emergencies and ‘helps mediate vigilance, arousal, activation and mobilization’, while the parasympathetic nervous system mediates ‘growth, energy storage and other optimistic activities’ (Sapolsky: 22–3). What is especially significant about taolu training is that it appears to balance the relationship between the two systems, offering practitioners the ability to remain alert, responsive, rational and relaxed without entering a static, motionless and vegetative state or a hyper-aroused one dominated by fear. Yang continues by explaining how tuishou functions in contemporary terms: Maintaining central equilibrium and effortless motor control is dependent upon a continuous flow of sensory information (visual, somatic, sensory and vestibular). Posture and movement are controlled by the brain’s motor system in two ways: 1. The nervous system monitors sensory signals and uses this information to act directly on a limb. This responsive action is called feedback. Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 137 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 138 2. Using sensory input and experience, the mind adopts a pro-active strategy and contracts muscles that will be necessary to maintain balance during an imminent disturbance. This anticipatory response is called feedforward. (Yang: 136) Yang goes on to argue that sustained practice of tuishou hones the efficiency of the feedforward and feedback functions of the motor system. Thus, while the practice of taijiquan taolu can provide a certain amount of coordination balance and nervous-system straining, in order to fully enjoy the potential benefits of taijquan, coordination, balance and psychophysical equilibrium need to be actively challenged. Actors need to work on the spontaneous and improvised partner exercises of tuishou. Tuishou teaches what the taolu is for. It brings a strong dose of objectivity to training: testing and applying one’s movements with a partner in tuishou allows one to check if the taolu practice is producing any verifiable concentration, control, balance, freedom and mental flexibility. In the absence of partner-practice, one’s sensations of centring, power, creativity, and fulfilment remain subjective, fleeting and personal. Tuishou offers the opportunity to correlate subjective impressions with reality in order to create a repeatable change of skill level, rather than merely an ephemeral change of state. Figure 1: Chen Zhonghua and Daniel Mroz practising Chen-style Taijiquan Tuishou on Daqingshan Mountain, Shandong, China. (Photo by Scot Jorgenson) 138 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 139 Figure 2: Chen Zhonghua uses his advantageous position to lock Daniel Mroz in an arm-bar during the training. (Photo by Scot Jorgenson) Concrete applications of Taijiquan in actor training Over time, actors training in taijiquan can reduce their reaction time to sudden stressors in order to act proactively and appropriately due to increased sensory input (Yang: 138). Tuishou is an incremental protocol for reducing the degree of the stress-response, the nervous and hormonal activation that makes the heart pound, shrinks the field of vision and inhibits fine motor control (Sapolsky: 6–8). Much of actor training is directly concerned with de-conditioning the stress-response. Actors’ lack of physical ease, vocal projection and ability to respond creatively to their fellow players are all caused by habituated over-reaction to actual or anticipated stressors. This in itself is enough to recommend traditional taijiquan to any actor-training programme. Furthermore, taolu teaches stage actors to be able to repeat a precise choreography of actions that, due to their martial nature, contain very clear force vectors. These not only render a body trained in their execution more dynamic, but also the specific breathing protocols used in taijiquan allow the moving actor to support vocalisation with movement in a highly efficient manner. Having learned the classical choreography of the taolu, actors can apply themselves to composing posture and movement when acting in self-consciously theatrical genres. Actors creating devised physical theatre or interpreting classical, late-modern and post-dramatic repertoire all have need of strong compositional skills. For actors working in these forms, tuishou training converts into the skill of being able to respond Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 139 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 140 appropriately, compositionally and without stress to other actors and to the performance environment. Sustained versus terminating training The major limitation on taijiquan’s usefulness to actors is the institutional context in which it is typically provided. Actor-training in North America is characterised by terminating training programs that move graduates into the cultural industry after three or four years of schooling. Taijiquan, by contrast, was originally conceived as a sustained training activity, involving daily work over a lifetime in order to maintain the mature fighting form of a rural militia with a strong, pre-existing background in martial movement. Although a high level of competence could be achieved by novices who devoted themselves to its daily practice exclusively for three or four years, when practised for only a few hours a week as part of a larger, varied curriculum, basic skill in taijiquan – the growing ability to maintain physical balance and mental calm when wrestling with another – may never have a chance to manifest. Solutions in terminating training programmes The need for intense practice has led acting teacher Phillip Zarrilli to make taijiquan practice more central to the performance programmes he has directed. Formerly the head of the Asian/Experimental Theatre Programme at the University of Madison-Wisconsin and currently Professor of Performance Practice in the Drama Department of the University of Exeter (UK), Zarrilli has shared a shortened form of the Wu style of taijiquan with graduate and undergraduate students in England and America since 1980. Zarrilli’s programmes are not only restricted to taijiquan, but also include training in kalarippayattu, a martial discipline from South India, and hatha yoga (Zarrilli in Zarrilli 1995: 183). What I find most significant about Zarrilli’s curriculum is his attempt to offer students in terminating training programmes a maximum number of hours of physical practice by placing it at the centre of their work. The training programme he instituted at the University of Madison-Wisconsin’s Asian/Experimental Theatre Programme, which he inherited from A.C. Scott in 1980, proceeded as follows. For the first six months of their time in the programme, both graduate and undergraduate students would meet five days a week to practice taijiquan, kalarippayattu and hatha yoga for 90–120 minutes. Following the six-month introductory period, daily training was reduced to a 60-minute period that served as an intensive preparation for the acting that was a part of the students’ course of work (Zarrilli 1995: 183–4). Zarrilli has maintained his commitment to training intensity in his more recent work at Exeter, where students in the Physical Performance and Actor Training MA and MFA degrees receive at least 150 hours of guided instruction each semester in physical training that includes taijiquan, in addition to the hundreds of hours of personal practice that are expected of them during their one- or two-year programmes (Online Source: University of Exeter Course Descriptions). 140 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 141 The ultimate test of a programme set up along these lines is found in the post-graduation choices of its students and in Zarrilli’s availability to them for ongoing training. A two-year period can provide students with a decent introduction to taijiquan, or to any martial discipline, but it does not provide them with the experience they need to continue developing their fighting or movement skills without further instruction. For students in terminating programmes to fully assimilate skill in taijiquan they will not only have to develop a personal solo and partner practice, but also seek further instruction – in other words, they will have to use the foundation they acquired in terminating training to fuel a lifetime of sustained training. Given the specificity of Zarrilli’s programme, the commitment that students must have going in to such a course of studies must be considerable. As a result, I feel optimistic about the possibility of this course of terminating training planting the seed of sustained practice. Solutions in sustained training programs Although there are probably many professional actors who take taijiquan classes for the purpose of general self-maintenance, the number of theatre artists using taijiquan as the physical basis of their creative process is small, restricted to companies creating devised physical theatre or postdramatic works that blur the distinctions between theatre, dance and performance art. Furthermore, it would be misleading to describe their work as pure sustained training. The possibilities for sustained training by contemporary performing artists are constrained, in Canada where I live and work, by arts-funding structures and union regulations. Theatre companies in Canada are funded by public and private agencies at national, provincial and municipal levels. Grants are either offered for the creation and performance of an individual work or for the administration of a more established company over several years. Neither project-based funding nor operating funding has in mind a stable ensemble of performers who base their creative life in a shared physical practice. Funding theatre artists to develop their technique on a daily basis, without a pre-determined, terminating goal in sight, is viewed as a risky investment, and is not sanctioned. Thus, contemporary theatre artists in Canada attempting to base their work around taijiquan training are confronted with two realities: training is periodic as opposed to constant, and the group of performers being trained is not necessarily constant. Two Canadian groups whose attempts to create a signature style of performance are based on taijiquan training are Battery Opera, led by Lee Su-Feh and David McIntosh, and One Reed Theatre Ensemble, directed by myself. Battery Opera is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Western Canada while One Reed is based in Toronto, Ontario in the east. I have chosen to present the work of these two groups as I am personally acquainted, albeit to different degrees, with their work, and thus feel able to link my direct practical experiences of them with the historical and theoretical material I have presented above. Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 141 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 3. While living in Montréal I saw Reptile Diva at Espace Tangente (1999), Spektator at the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse (2002) and took a short martial movement for performers workshop led by McIntosh and Lee at Studio 303, a training and creation centre for contemporary performance and dance (2000). 2:39 PM Page 142 Battery Opera Battery Opera’s founding members, Lee Su-Feh and McIntosh, both trained in Chinese martial arts under Xu Gong Wei (b. 1915), a teacher who exposed them to numerous styles including chaquan, xingyiquan, baguazhang and of course, taijiquan. In addition to their work with Xu, they have benefited from the strong Asian presence in Vancouver, and have trained in Chinese and other martial arts with a wide variety of teachers, as well as such Asian systems of physical culture as hatha yoga and qigong. Their description of the role of martial arts in their process is lucid and inspiring: A large part of the development process in any of our work involves the training of the performers (ourselves included) to a point where they have the appropriate skills and fluency in the language of our physical worldview. The basis of this language is not only aesthetic (a certain kind of gestural language or dynamic) but also has to do with a specific use of focus, breath and mindfulness. In this state, the performer is highly in tune with her breath and how it connects with her eyes, with her internal and external impulses. She also becomes highly aware of the space around her, the shape of it and the lines of energy that run through it. Often, the work requires that performers improvise from this state. In order to arrive at this state, the company trains in a class that is based on a number of disciplines; qigong, yoga, voice, basic martial arts (wushu) and, particularly, Chinese internal martial arts. (Online Souce: Battery Opera Website) Battery Opera offers an example of a successful, if periodic, approach to sustained training. Although the two core members, Lee and McIntosh, have a sustained practice of taijiquan, they do not work with a completely stable ensemble. Their three current performances, Cyclops, Spektator and Reptile Diva, use some of the same performers, but the ensemble is not exactly the same from work to work (Online Source: Battery Opera Website). And as the description above reveals, training for the company as a whole is part of the preparation of an individual project, and not the daily practice of an ensemble. Despite the constraints that periodic training with a shifting group imposes, I believe that Battery Opera has successfully created a signature style of performance, anchored in and revealed by a way of moving that distinguishes them from other physical theatre and dance companies. To the trained observer, this way of moving clearly derives from the Chinese martial arts, including taijiquan. The actualisation of this way of moving is likely to be dependent on the constant presence of Lee and McIntosh from project to project, and to their own ongoing martial training.3 One Reed Theatre Ensemble One Reed Theatre Ensemble is a group that I co-founded with four graduating students of the English Acting Section of the National Theatre School of Canada. Under its current artistic director Sherrie Bie, the English 142 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 143 Acting Section has been encouraging its students to become independent artists who create their own aesthetically diverse works. As such, Canadian devised physical theatre artists Ker Wells and Karin Randoja give a class each year at the National Theatre School. I studied with Wells and Randoja myself when they were members of Primus Theatre, a major Canadian contemporary theatre ensemble active in the 1990s, directed by former Odin Teatret actor Richard Fowler. I met the four actors of One Reed, Frank Cox-O’Connell, Megan Flynn, Marc Tellez and Evan Webber, when they were students of Wells and Randoja. Upon their graduation in 2005, we began to work together and created what would become One Reed Theatre, and our first performance, Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us. During their work with Wells and Randoja, the actors had been exposed to some of the same physical training that I had learned from Richard Fowler, the Pre-Expressive Training developed by the actors of Eugenio Barba’s Odin Teatret, where Fowler had worked for over a decade. They had also been taught the approach to performance composition that I had experienced with Fowler and Primus. However, given my interest in martial arts training, in my work as a performer and director I had largely replaced the physical exercises of Fowler’s Pre-Expressive Training with my own repertoire of exercises. Added to this was the fact that, while I had trained with Fowler and Primus periodically but intensively for four years, the actors of One Reed had worked with Wells and Randoja for only six weeks. Thus, while we were all content to use the approach to performance composition we had inherited from Primus, I didn’t feel that any of us had enough experience with Fowler’s Pre-Expressive Training to continue with it. We were also faced with time constraints – we had secured funding for only nine weeks of full-time work. A common physical training was essential to the way in which we had elected to make a performance, but I also knew that nine weeks work on taijiquan taolu, even at three hours per day, six days per week, would yield only minimal results and take away from the time needed to compose the performance. I decided to break with tradition and concentrate only on partner exercises. I shared various approaches to taijiquan tui shou with the actors, in addition to partner-training games from such contemporary approaches to combat sport as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Chinese sanshou. To borrow Lee Su-Feh and David McIntosh’s words: We are interested in the martial body as a body that always works in relationship to an immediate opponent or partner, where the space around the body has weight, shape, is ‘sentient’. . . . The martial artist’s relationship to an opponent with close range provides us with clues about how to address the audience in an intimate space and how to relate to the performer’s scene partners. (Online Source: Battery Opera Website) This reflects my preoccupations exactly, and I felt that, by privileging partner work, I would be hopefully optimising my collaborators’ imaginations and Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 143 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 4. Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us, devised by One Reed, performed by Frank Cox-O’Connell, Megan Flynn, Marc Tellez and Evan Webber and directed by Daniel Mroz had its Canadian Premiere at the 2006 Summerworks Festival in Toronto. After a very favourable review, the production went on to win the Summerworks Festival Spotlight Award. The performance was cited for Outstanding Production, Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Ensemble by Toronto’s arts-weekly Now Magazine which subsequently declared One Reed to be Toronto’s Best Young Ensemble. 2:39 PM Page 144 group complicity by amplifying their feedforward and feedback responses to movement. It is difficult to give any kind of reasonable evaluation of one’s own work. Nevertheless, I believe that, as a short-term solution, the choice to concentrate on free-form, improvised fighting drills created excellent responsiveness and complicity in the performers. The performance Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us, which deals with the consequences of the sixteenth-century conquest of Mexico today, has been a popular and critical success.4 Nevertheless, I feel that, if we are to surpass ourselves for our next outing, we must now concentrate on taolu. While interpersonal response has been honed, it is not supported by sufficient physical coherence. Raised scapular girdles, necks transposed forwards and excessively loose stops, the bane of all stage performers, need to be trained out of existence through the meticulous application of classical technique. Classical technique also prepares the performer’s body in a global and uniform fashion that improvised partner-work, which privileges personal idiosyncrasies, cannot. Without the objective standard for movement quality that taolu training imposes, I do not feel we will be able to grow in our ability to innovate formally and challenge ourselves. We have yet to find an ideal solution to our theoretical commitment to sustained training, yet I am inspired by the success of Battery Opera to attempt a periodic approach to training as we begin to work on our next creation. Conclusion Taijiquan is an exercise complex that has captured the imaginations and cultural agenda of a surprisingly wide variety of groups. I have endeavoured to provide a history of its uses, both in China and North America, as well as a systemic description of its training activities. I have discussed its potential impact in the context of both terminating and sustained approaches to training. Finally, I should like to suggest that, as taijiquan enters the twenty-first century, theatre practitioners who would avail themselves of its benefits would do well to look back to its martial roots and emphasise tui shou in their study and practice. Works cited Aronson, Arnold (2000), American Avant-Garde Theatre: A History, New York: Routledge. Blau, Herbert (1982), Take Up the Bodies: Theater at the Vanishing Point, Champaign: University of Illinois Press. Bompa, Tudor and Michael Carrera (2005), Periodization Training for Sports, Champaign: Human Kinetics. Huang, Chungliang (1973), Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, Berkeley: Celestial Arts. ——— (1989), Essential Tai Ji, Berkeley: Celestial Arts. Kripal, Jeffrey J. (2007), Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Mitter, Shomit and Maria Shevtsova (2005), Fifty Key Directors, London: Routledge. 144 Daniel Mroz STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 145 Sapolsky, Robert (1998), Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, New York: W.H. Freeman. Siff, Mel (2003), Supertraining, Denver: Supertraining Institute. Sim, Davidine and David Gaffney (2002), Chen Style Taijiquan, Berkeley: North Atlantic. Smith, Robert (1995), ‘Zheng Manqing and taijiquan – a clarification of role’, Journal of Asian Martial Arts, 4:1. ——— (1999), Martial Musings, Erie: Via Media. Wilber, Ken (1998), The Eye of Spirit, Boston: Shambhala. Wile, Douglas (ed. and trans.) (1996), Lost T’ai Chi Classics from the Late Ch’ing Dynasty, Albany: State University of New York. Wilson, Edwin (2004), The Theater Experience, Columbus: McGraw-Hill. Yang, Yang (2005), Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power, Champagne: Zhen Wu. Yao, Haihsing (2001), ‘Martial-acrobatic arts in Peking Opera’, Journal of Asian Martial Arts, 10: 1. Zarrilli, Phillip (1995), ‘On the edge of a breath, looking’, in Phillip Zarrilli (ed.), Acting(Re)Considered, London: Routledge. Online Sources Accessed 5 November 2006. Dillon, Robert, ‘Asian martial arts in actor training: an enthusiast’s critique’, in Journal of Martial Combatives, Deborah Klens-Bigman (ed.), jtcart_dillon_1299.html. Accessed 24 May 2001. Meehan, J. Justin, ‘A comparative study between traditional Yang style of Yang Chengfu and Cheng Manching’s style’, articlecomparingyang.pdf. Accessed 11 September 2006. Rodell, Scott, M., ‘The martial and the civil in Yang style Taijiquan’, http:// Accessed 25 May 2006. University of Exeter Course Descriptions, theatrepractice/welcome.html, dram034.pdf,, http:// Accessed 31 October 2006. Zarrilli, Phillip, ‘Phillip Zarrilli and kalarippayattu/martial arts/performance’, Accessed 24 May 2006. Suggested citation Mroz, D. (2008), ‘Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty military exercise to twentieth-century actor training protocol’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 28: 2, pp. 127–145, doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.127/1 Contributor details Daniel Mroz teaches in the Theatre Department of the University of Ottawa. A long-term student of Chinese martial arts and physical culture, he is currently studying Hong Junsheng’s Practical Method of Chen Taijiquan under the guidance of nineteenth-generation lineage holder, Chen Zhonghua. He is the director of One Reed Theatre Ensemble, a Canadian company devoted to the creation of devised physical theatre. E-mail: [email protected] Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty . . . 145 STP-28-2-03-Mroz 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 146 STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:39 PM Page 147 Studies in Theatre and Performance Volume 28 Number 2 © 2008 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.147/1 ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations in Susannah Cibber’s letters Helen Brooks Abstract Keywords This article explores both the text and some of the sub-texts of Susannah Cibber’s correspondence with David Garrick from 1745 to 1747, when she was an established leading actress and he was contemplating entering into the management of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It considers the strategies Cibber adopted in her attempts to persuade Garrick into co-management and speculates on the ‘real’ reason for the ultimate dashing of her hopes. David Garrick Drury Lane theatre management James Lacy women’s rights Theophilus Cibber From July 1745 to January 1747 Susannah Cibber, leading actress on the Drury Lane stage wrote a series of letters to her ‘stage lover’ David Garrick. These letters form just a small part of the extensive private correspondence of David Garrick compiled by the noted biographer, critic, essayist and historian John Forster (1812–1876) and held at the National Art Library. Yet while these letters are just one piece in the jigsaw of David Garrick’s story they are invaluable for the insight they provide into one of the leading actresses of her day. With Susannah Cibber’s long-term partner William Sloper having destroyed part of her correspondence after her death, and his widow Catherine Sloper having finished the job after her estranged husband’s death, these letters are some of the few extant sources through which we can directly access Susannah Cibber’s own ‘voice’. Moreover with the main focus of these letters being Susannah’s attempts to convince Garrick to join her in various theatrical ventures, they offer us a valuable perspective on this actress’s managerial aspirations and more significantly, how she sought to achieve them. At the point at which Susannah began this correspondence with Garrick, the London theatre scene was feeling the impact of political instabilities threatening the country. With Charles Edward Stuart’s Scottish uprising causing national economic unrest, and runs on the Bank of England unsettling the London market, the bank which held the patent of Drury Lane was in a tenuous position. The partnership of the bankers and patentees, Green and Amber, was known to be at the point of breaking, and the impact on the Drury Lane theatre under the management of James Lacy was not going unnoticed. Lacy had already had difficulty in paying his actors the previous season, and in mid-July 1745, with a number of salaries still outstanding, he was attempting to negotiate salary cuts with his leading STP 28 (2) 147–159 © Intellect Ltd 2008 147 STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 148 actors. It was within this context, in which both Susannah Cibber and David Garrick were negotiating hard with Lacy to renew their contracts at their current rates that Susannah wrote the series of letters in which she sought to gain Garrick’s support in an independent managerial venture. The first letter of the series was sent by Susannah on 18 July 1745, and she began it by dramatically informing Garrick of the current state of their salary negotiations: I must write what comes uppermost; so, without father [sic] ceremony, I must tell you that I hear we are both to be turned out of Drury Lane playhouse, to breath [sic] our faithful souls out where we please. But as Mr Lacy suspects you are so great a favourite with the ladies that they will resent it, he has enlisted two swinging Irishmen of six feet high to silence that battery. As to me, I am to be brought to capitulate another way, and he is to send a certain hussar of our acquaintance to plunder me. (Garrick 1835: 1.34) Warning Garrick foremost that Lacy was unprepared to capitulate to their salary demands, Susannah also paints a vivid picture of how Lacy intended to resolve his predicament. In Garrick’s case this meant bringing in the ‘two swinging Irishmen’, whom Garrick would have known to be the popular actors Thomas Sheridan (1719–1788) and Spranger Barry (1717–1777), as replacements. Spranger Barry in particular was Garrick’s closest rival, the difference in their style being best exemplified by Mrs. Pritchard who wrote that of the two actors’ performances in Romeo and Juliet, Garrick’s was: so ardent and impassioned [. . .] I should have expected he would have come up to me in the balcony; but had I been Juliet to Barry’s Romeo – so tender, so eloquent, and so seductive was he, I should certainly have gone down to him. (Highfill: 1.330) Whilst the threat Susannah presented tapped into Garrick’s greatest insecurity, in relation to herself Lacy’s intentions appear to have been far more menacing. Asserting that the manager intended to force her to work by encouraging her estranged husband Theophilus Cibber, that ‘certain hussar’, to ‘plunder’ her property and income as he had throughout the last ten years, Susannah presented herself to Garrick as the threatened, powerless victim of Lacy’s schemes. Yet although the threats Susannah described might well have been real, her reason for painting such a bleak picture of the ‘terrifying resolutions’ (Garrick 1835: 1.34) which faced them was not selfless. Moreover it soon becomes clear that Susannah actively emphasised the ‘melancholy’ nature of their situation specifically in order to lay the foundations for the suggestion that she was about to put to Garrick. In fact, the situation she 148 Helen Brooks STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 149 described did not present a substantial risk to either herself or Garrick. In Garrick’s case he was already well-established as the leading London actor, and while for Susannah there was always the potential that Theophilus would decide to involve himself in her career, her financial position was now far more secure than when she had been subject to her husband’s matrimonial rights. Now that she was co-habiting with and had had a daughter by William Sloper, whose substantial inheritance had consolidated his social and financial position in 1743, the threat of being ‘plundered’ is unlikely to have been a great concern to Susannah. Rather, therefore, than aiming to warn Garrick, the ‘melancholy’ picture Susannah painted functioned primarily to provoke Garrick’s hostility towards Lacy, to encourage him to view Susannah as his ally, and ultimately to make him more likely to respond positively to her following suggestion that they join together in rebelling against Lacy’s management: What think you of setting up a strolling company? Had you given me timely notice of your going to Buxton, I am sure the landlord of the Hall Place would have lent us a barn, and with the advantage of your little wife’s first appearance in the character of Lady Townly [in Colley Cibber’s The Provoked Husband], I don’t doubt but we could have pick’d up some odd pence: this might have given a great turn to affairs, and, when Lacy found we could get our bread without him, it might possibly have altered these terrifying resolutions. (Garrick 1835: 1.34) While Susannah quickly made light of this idea, continuing ‘but joking aside, I long till you come that we may consult together’ (Garrick 1835: 1.34), the suggestion that she and Garrick lead a theatrical rebellion to prove their professional worth is significant. With its overt echoes of the 1733 rebellion against Drury Lane’s management, and the 1695 secession from the United Company,1 Susannah’s suggestion located her within a tradition of leading players who had rebelled against the management and subsequently become actor–managers in their own right. Provoked by Lacy’s refusal to recognise what she perceived as her own commercial value, Susannah revealed not only the extent to which she would fight to retain her professional value, but for the first time, her belief in her own managerial capabilities. While Susannah’s idea was certainly interesting, we can gather from her subsequent letter just over three months later, on 24 October, that Garrick had not responded enthusiastically to this strategy for challenging Lacy’s management. With a clear rebuttal from Garrick, Susannah therefore quickly backtracked, brushing her idea aside and asserting that ‘I am partly of your opinion, that the masters would refuse our proposal: the thing came into my head as I was writing to you, so I mentioned it without father [sic] reflection’ (Garrick 1835: 1.37). Almost immediately, however, Susannah developed her second idea for becoming ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations . . . 149 1. In 1733, one year after buying out his father’s share in Drury Lane’s management patent, Theophilus Cibber had fallen out with the principle patent holder at Drury Lane, John Highmore. As a result Theophilus had been banned from participation in the theatre’s management. In response he had led a group of disaffected actors away from Drury Lane, to join him in a new company which he established at the Haymarket theatre. The following year Highmore had been bankrupted, in part because of the competition from the rebel company, and Theophilus had been invited back to Drury Lane as a leading actor–manager. Even earlier, in 1695, following the ‘petition of the players’, a group of eight ‘rebels’ had gained a licence to set up independently from the United Company, a move which had resulted in Ann Bracegirdle and Elizabeth Barry becoming the first female actor-managers of a London theatre company. STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2. One month earlier, in September 1745, Charles Edward Stuart had marched on Edinburgh with his Highland army and defeated the Hanoverian force led by Sir John Cope at the Battle of Prestonpans. In October they were continuing to march south. Publicly locating herself as a supporter of the Hanoverian throne would be a particularly valuable move for Susannah, since in religious terms, as a Roman Catholic, her allegiance might be assumed to be to the Jacobite cause. 2:40 PM Page 150 an actor manager, and this one she told Garrick was ‘a much better scheme’: There will be no operas this year; so if you, Mr Quin, and I, agree to play without any salary, and pick up some of the best actors and actresses that are disengaged, at what salary you both think proper, I make no doubt we shall get a licence to play therefore fifty, sixty, or any number of nights you agree upon. Mr Heidegger shall pay scenes, & c. and pay those that receive wages; and deliver the overplus to some proper person to enlist men to serve in any of the regiments of guards, at five pounds per man; – this is the service [th]at St Martin’s parish puts the money to that they collect, – and I mention it, because it is thought the most serviceable to the government, of any scheme yet proposed [. . .] if we succeed, which I have very little doubt of, I desire nothing better than us three playing at the head of any company of actors we can get together. I believe we shall convince the whole town that we have not been unreasonable in the salaries we have demanded. (Garrick 1835: 1.37) Unlike her previous plan, which ‘came into my head as I was writing to you’, Susannah appears to have thought this new scheme through in some practical detail before she committed it to article. It is not, however, solely in the fact that she laid out a clear, practical and ultimately achievable strategy that this letter marks a significant progression in Susannah’s managerial aspirations, nor in the fact that she used a far more assertive, definitive tone in proposing the idea. Rather, the significance of this letter is the extent to which Susannah had re-figured her scheme within the broader political context. In her earlier proposal Susannah had sought to achieve her managerial aspirations with a direct move in competition with Lacy, proving to him that they could ‘get our bread without him’. Now, however, while her goal of setting up an independent company remained essentially the same, Susannah sought to achieve it by framing her aspirations not as a rebellion but as a patriotic endeavour, a move which would effectively mask her fundamental desire to manage a company in opposition to Lacy beneath a philanthropic and seemingly selfless display of national support. Moreover, by presenting the endeavour as a nationalist enterprise and giving the profits directly to the regiment of guards, Susannah’s plan would publicly and valuably locate both herself and Garrick as active participants in the national fight against the Young Pretender who had only one month earlier defeated the English forces in the first major battle of the Jacobite uprising.2 It was a sophisticated strategy, and as such presented an interesting dilemma to Garrick who, immediately on receiving Susannah’s letter, wrote to his friend and confidant Somerset Draper saying: I should not have troubled you so soon again, was it not to tell you I have received a letter from Mrs Cibber, who proposes a scheme for our acting with Mr Quin, gratis, in the Haymarket; in order to raise a sum of money to enlist 150 Helen Brooks STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 151 men for his Majesty’s service. Now although I imagine this proposal merely chimerical and womanish; yet, as I would not give my opinion too hastily upon such an affair, I must desire you to wait upon her; and to be sure if I can, in any way, contribute to the general good, I shall be ready upon the first notice, to come and give my assistance. (Little and Kahrl 1963: 1.66) Garrick was torn. On the one hand he perceived the idea to be ‘womanish’ and ‘chimerical’, yet on the other he recognised that he might ‘turn this’ to his own advantage with Lacy since, in Susannah’s words, ‘to break this scheme he will give you any terms you will demand (Garrick 1835: 1.37). Additionally, perhaps he also recognised the significant risk of the venture going ahead without him, and of the public finding out that he had refused to take part in a philanthropic and patriotic endeavour. Turning to his most trusted advisor, Garrick therefore asked Somerset Draper to visit Susannah Cibber ‘as soon as possible, and give me your opinion on it’, making it clear that ‘if I can, in any way, contribute to the general good, I shall be ready upon the first notice’(Little and Kahrl 1963: 1.66). Three days later Susannah received a visit from Somerset Draper,3 who swiftly resolved Garrick’s dilemma by convincing her ‘that it was best to drop the affair I mentioned to you’ (Garrick 1835: 1.38). The means by which Draper succeeded in quelling Susannah’s scheme are unfortunately lost, although we can speculate that the news that Garrick intended to depart shortly for Ireland may have played some part. At the same time, Susannah’s recently received letter regarding the potential sale of the Drury Lane patent may also have encouraged her to put the present scheme to one side in favour of the greater potential ahead.4 Yet, whatever the reason, when Susannah next wrote to Garrick, on 30 October, her tone was notably cooler and even resentful of Garrick’s abandoning her at this time of change and uncertainty. ‘I am sorry to hear you propose going to Ireland without calling at London’, she wrote: I should think it would be right to see your friends here first. You don’t know what events may happen in your absence; as I have no notion the theatre can go on in the way it now is. I should have been very glad to have had two or three hours conversation with you before your journey; but if I have not that pleasure, I heartily wish you your health. (Garrick 1835: 1.38) Having now attempted twice to gain Garrick’s professional collaboration on two separate managerial projects, and having been clearly rebutted by him and even abandoned for another country, it would not be surprising to see Susannah give up on her attempts to further her ambition with her stage lover. Yet only ten days later, on 9 November 1745, Susannah appears to have re-evaluated her strategy. She wrote once more to Garrick, putting forward her third and final proposal, and suggesting that she and ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations . . . 151 3. Susannah begins her letter of 30 October by telling Garrick that ‘yesterday Mr Draper called upon me’ (Garrick 1835: 1.38). 4. In her letter of 9 November 1745 Susannah tells Garrick that she wants to speak to him about ‘a letter sent me a fortnight ago’, suggesting that when she wrote to Garrick on 30 October she might already have received this letter regarding the patent. STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 152 Garrick join together in purchasing the patent for Drury Lane. As in her first letter, Susannah opened by carefully setting the tone and laying the groundwork for the revelation of her plan. She began: Sir, I had a thousand pretty things to say to you, but you go to Ireland without seeing me [. . .] You assure me also you want sadly to make love to me; and I assure you, very seriously, I will never engage upon the same theatre again with you, without you make more love to me than you did last year. I am ashamed that the audience should see me break the least rule of decency (even upon the stage) for the wretched lovers I had last winter. I desire you always to be my lover upon the stage, and my friend off it. (Garrick 1835: 1.38–39) This wonderfully flirtatious opening paragraph was a new strategy for Susannah. Up until this point her propositions of commercial ventures had been businesslike in tone, focussing primarily upon the situation, laying out plans and strategies and, perhaps most of all, being overtly enthusiastic about the ventures proposed. Now, however, Susannah began by showering Garrick with praise, pandering to his ego and conversing in what must have seemed, from its flirtatious tone, a much more ‘feminine’ way. Whether in part simply an attempt to make up for the distant tone in her previous letter or out of recognition that her more ‘masculine’ style of conversing had not previously been successful in furthering her ambitions, the main function of this flirtatious opening was to reaffirm and re-establish Susannah’s alliance with Garrick. Throughout this paragraph the key points that Susannah asserted were her professional loyalty and her personal affection for Garrick. Asserting that no other actor compared as a ‘lover upon the stage’, Susannah located herself as Garrick’s primary stage partner, a relationship which would be key if she was to convince Garrick to join her as co-manager of Drury Lane. Having laid the groundwork through flattery and encouragement – notably the exact reverse of the strategy Susannah had used in July when attempting to gain Garrick’s support with the threat of the ‘terrifying resolutions’ – Susannah then came to reveal her final and ultimate aspiration: What I wanted to speak to you about was, a letter sent me a fortnight ago. The purport of it was, supposing the remainder of the patent was to be sold, would you and Mr Garrick buy it, provided you could get promise of its being renewed for ten or twenty years? As I was desired to keep this a strict secret, I did not care to trust it in a letter, but your going to Ireland obliges me to it. After this, it is needless to beg you not to mention it to any body; but let me know what you think of it, because I must return an answer. (Garrick 1835: 1.39) Having asked the key question, Susannah quickly drew the letter to a close, and the reader is left with the sense that she had neither a particular interest 152 Helen Brooks STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 153 in purchasing the patent nor in hearing Garrick’s opinion on the venture. Whilst in both earlier proposals Susannah had overtly stated her proposal, laying out her case assertively and detailing key aspects, here her approach was almost the exact opposite. By spending only these three sentences on the topic of the patent, Susannah appeared to simply drop it into the letter, giving no sense of her own opinion on the venture and only asking of Garrick’s because ‘I must return an answer’. From her following letters, however, it becomes clear that, rather than reflecting Susannah’s real feelings, this superficial disinterest was part of a sophisticated strategy to win Garrick over. By presenting herself as a passive, reactive, and therefore fundamentally more ‘feminine’ figure, Susannah effaced any threat Garrick might have previously felt from her assertive, dominant approach and effectively assured him that in any partnership he would be able to take a more active and ‘masculine’ role. The sophistication of Susannah’s strategy, however, lay not in her ‘feminising’ of her role. More significant in fact was the way in which she balanced this with a clear demonstration of those ‘masculine’ traits which would be essential to Garrick’s acceptance of her as a potential actor– manager. Sandwiched in between her flirtatious opening and her passive reference to the patent, Susannah included two sentences which served exactly this purpose. She wrote: I have given over all thoughts of playing this season; nor is it in the power of Mr Lacy, with all his eloquence, to enlist me in his ragged regiment. I should be very glad to command a body of regular troops, but I have no ambition to head the drury-lane militia. (Garrick 1835: 1.39) In this short announcement Susannah made a profound statement. Not only did she overtly and proudly assert her ambition to lead the Drury Lane company but she also demonstrated that she had the skill to do so. Switching on an instant from the flirtatious, ‘feminine’ style of her opening, through which she had sought to put Garrick at ease, Susannah used a notably different, and essentially ‘masculine’ tone. With her assertive, confident statement of her managerial ambitions, her resistance to Lacy and her use of military terms with their inherently masculine associations, Susannah emphasised to Garrick that she had the traits needed to take on this role successfully.5 By slipping this ambitious statement into a letter distinguished by its feminine and passive tone, Susannah appears to have been attempting overall to negotiate a balance between ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ roles, a task which would be essential to any successful partnership with Garrick. On one hand she appears to have recognised that to work with Garrick she would need to be the more passive and dependent partner, while on the other she also appears to have been aware of the implicit risk that such an approach presented. As a partner, Susannah therefore offered herself in feminine terms, whereas as a manager she ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations . . . 153 5. As well as being inherently masculine, in the current political climate, with the Catholic Charles Stuart about to cross into England, Susannah’s military references would have resonated strongly, also reiterating her earlier alignment of stage and politics. Again, as a Roman Catholic herself, the refusal to lead a ‘rebel’ company also located her as a supporter of the national forces, and directly in opposition to the Stuart forces. STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 6. The Veterans Scheme had been set up as a charitable institution to support English soldiers. 7. In Private Correspondence the year put to this letter and the subsequent letter of 19 December is 1746. However this is a clear mistake since both letters directly refer to Susannah’s production of The Beggar’s Opera at Covent Garden, a production which took place in December 1745. 2:40 PM Page 154 made it clear that she would play an equal and assertive role in the business of managing the company. Unfortunately, with Garrick’s reply to this letter being lost, we have no idea how he responded to Susannah’s carefully crafted attempt to gain his partnership in co-managing Drury Lane. What we do know, however, is that Susannah’s next step in her strategy was to take action which would practically demonstrate to Garrick both her ability as a manager and her professional value as a partner. On 7 December 1745 she published a notice in the Daily Advertiser offering to play Polly in The Beggar’s Opera for the benefit of the Veterans’ Scheme, an offer which bore remarkable similarities to her earlier scheme of performing gratis for the regiment of guards.6 The way that Susannah planned and enacted this venture is rarely recognised as a key moment in her career, and yet, within the context of her attempts to purchase the patent of Drury Lane, this solo staging of The Beggar’s Opera was effectively Susannah’s public and most overt demonstration to Garrick of her ability and acumen. From her choice of a controversial and provocative play, to her negotiations with the theatre managers and her independent management of public opinion with her confident puffing in the papers, Susannah ensured that every element of this production would give her the full opportunity to demonstrate to Garrick her significant value as a partner in the management of Drury Lane. In offering to play Polly in The Beggar’s Opera, Susannah would have known she was making a highly political and provocative move. Just under ten years before, in 1736, she and Kitty Clive had become embroiled in what had been popularly known as the Polly War, a very public confrontation over which of the two actresses would be allowed to play the part of Polly in a production at Drury Lane. With Kitty Clive having won the original battle, Susannah’s statement was a clear provocation to her rival. Moreover, with Clive being a member of the Drury Lane company, Susannah’s choice of play was also a direct challenge to Lacy, forcing him to choose between his leading actress that season and the significant benefits to be gained from supporting Susannah’s venture. The option of working at Covent Garden, however, was no less controversial, and in a similar way forced that theatre’s manager to choose between the value Susannah would bring and the ongoing value offered by her estranged husband who was already a member of the Covent Garden company. In this context, and by choosing both this role and play, Susannah was clearly setting herself up to succeed under even the most difficult circumstances. Deliberately provocative, Susannah’s choice prompted an immediate theatrical and public tumult. As she wrote in a later letter to Garrick, on 11 December 1745:7 The morning my first advertisement came out, I wrote lacy a very civil letter, desiring to know if he consented to my proposal [. . .] I heard that night that the green room was in an uproar: I was cursed with all the elegance of phrase that reigns behind the scenes, and Mrs Clive swore she would not 154 Helen Brooks STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 155 play the part of Lucy. The next morning Mr Rich sent me an offer of his house, that he would give the whole receipts to the Veteran scheme, and that he should always esteem it a great obligation done to him; that he had sent to Mr Cibber, who promised that he would never come near the house during the rehearsals, or performances and that Mr Rich would answer with his life he should keep his word: so I concluded it the same day, which was Sunday. The next morning came out the advertisement of my being a rigid roman catholic, &c. The answer I made to it might have been much better wrote, but I had nobody to consult but myself [. . .] I send you inclosed the true copy of it as it was published in the London Courant. (Garrick 1835: 1.45–46) In the longest letter of this series, Susannah ensured that Garrick was fully aware of all the details surrounding her venture, and, more importantly, of the extent to which she was acting independently and successfully in spite of being subject to both personal and professional attacks. Enclosing the letter she had published in the London Courant as well as cutting out and including ‘all the advertisements for you that I could find’ (Garrick 1835: 1.47), Susannah made sure that Garrick had all the information he needed readily to hand to judge her value and skill as a potential partner. Moreover, just in case Garrick had failed to recognise her value from the fact that Theophilus Cibber had been forced to stay away from his own theatre on her account, Susannah ensured it was overtly stated, light-heartedly mentioning that ‘I had a letter on Monday from Lacy, in which he made fresh offers of engaging me’. Although Susannah commented disparagingly that ‘it is a long silly letter’ and asserted that she ‘should never engage at any theatre which he had the direction of ’ (Garrick 1835: 1.46), the implicit message was not only that she was in demand, but that her offer to Garrick would not be indefinite. Having set the scene in terms of her managerial skill and ambition, her professional value, her continuing allegiance to Garrick and her refusal to work at Drury Lane, Susannah finally made her move. For the first time, in the most overt and assertive terms, Susannah informed Garrick of her intention to join with him as joint-patentee of Drury Lane: I have had a visit from Mr Rich, who says, he sent you word when the patent was to be sold, and wonders we did not buy it; it appears to me it must soon change hands again. I wish you would let me know your intention about it; I am ready to join with you in any undertaking of that sort, and am sure, if it can be worth any body’s buying, it must be worth ours. (Garrick 1835: 1.46) Garrick’s immediate response to this forthright statement is unknown, but only eight days later, at ‘the first opportunity’ (Garrick 1835: 1.47), and after having experienced unreserved success in her venture, Susannah wrote to him again.8 Like her letter prior to the performances of The Beggar’s ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations . . . 155 8. The Beggar’s Opera was performed on 14, 16 and 17 December 1745. STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 156 Opera, in this letter of 19 December 1745 Susannah’s overriding aim was to ‘sell’ herself to Garrick as a co-manager. With an air of barely suppressed excitement, she therefore began by informing Garrick that she had played ‘to the fullest houses that were ever seen’, and that as a result ‘Mr Rich has pressed me of all things to engage there this year’ (Garrick 1835: 1.47). Consistent with her previous assertions of loyalty, Susannah of course assured Garrick that her response had been ‘as there is no Tancred, I am resolved they shall have no Sigismunda’ (Garrick 1835: 1.47). Yet while appreciating this apparently selfless demonstration of loyalty, Garrick could not have failed to note the fact that, as a result of her independent success, Susannah was now being courted, not only by Drury Lane, but also by Covent Garden. In her previous lengthy letter Susannah had already made Garrick aware of the managerial negotiations upon which her success had been based. Having asserted her success, she then took a further step in seeking Garrick’s partnership, offering now to put her proven skills to use for his benefit. In the face of a pamphlet which Susannah informed Garrick was being written against both their ‘honour’, and in response to which Susannah insisted ‘it will be absolutely necessary to write an answer to it as soon as possible’ (Garrick 1835: 1.47), she suggested the following arrangement: As you are not now upon the spot to defend yourself, I should think it proper that you should send over a short account of the real matters of fact [. . .] and in case there are any falsehoods inserted against you in the pamphlet, which I imagine will shortly appear, you may desire Mr Draper to come to me, and we will consult together about what is necessary to be said relating to you; and you may depend upon it, I shall not take the liberty of mentioning any thing concerning you without his approbation. (Garrick 1835: 1.47) Not only was Susannah offering to defend Garrick publicly, but with this course of action she would effectively place herself alongside Somerset Draper as Garrick’s close confidant. Clearly by this point Susannah had recognised Draper’s crucial role in Garrick’s decision making and had determined that, if she could work closely with him for Garrick’s benefit, their joint possession of the patent would become almost a certainty. It certainly was an astute idea, and it was following this letter, in which Susannah concluded by informing Garrick that she meant ‘to commence from the end of this season, and only for the remainder of the patent’ (Garrick 1835: 1.48), that for the first time we have evidence of Garrick seriously considering joining with Susannah as co-patentee. In response to Susannah’s demand to ‘know your real sentiments [. . .] upon what terms you were offered the patent, and how far you would care to go if it was now to be sold’ (Garrick 1835: 1.48) Garrick wrote to Somerset Draper: 156 Helen Brooks STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 157 Mrs Cibber [. . .] talks much of buying the patent, and thinks we may purchase it immediately; for she is certain Drury Lane cannot possibly go on with the present set of actors [. . .] if anything should happen which would require my presence, I can be in town time enough to take the benefit of a theatrical revolution [. . .] Mrs Cibber is a most sensible, and I believe sincerely, a wellmeaning woman; pray go and see her, and I beg you will do what you please to hinder the villainy of these people taking effect. I am most heartily rejoiced at her success; and although it is intimated to me that she was not so excellent in the character, yet I cannot think but three crammed houses are certain proofs to the contrary. I should be glad of your opinion. As to the patent, what can I say to her? Mure, you know, is the person I have hopes of joining with; and yet, if she can procure it (as I believe he is very slow in his motions) why should not I (upon a good agreement and easy terms) be concerned with her? We ought always to play together; and I could wish we both settled at the same house. Pray think of this affair; and, as I know you are so much more cool and judicious than myself, I shall follow your advice in every thing. (Little and Kahrl 1963: 1.71–72) From this thoughtful letter it becomes apparent that Garrick had been effectively persuaded by the strategies Susannah had employed. From his comments on the ‘crammed houses’, and his recognition that ‘we ought always to play together’, to his commendation that ‘Mrs Cibber is a most sensible [. . . .] woman’, Garrick has clearly been affected by the points Susannah had ensured were reiterated throughout her letters. Finally therefore, having proven her practical abilities in a venture Garrick had turned down, and having demonstrated her intentions towards Garrick through offering to defend him in public, Susannah appeared to be right on the cusp of achieving her goal. Over the next month events progressed apace. By 26 December 1745 Green and Amber were bankrupt and Garrick was writing urgently to Draper that ‘something must happen in the theatrical state, that may turn to my advantage’ and requesting that his friend visit Susannah to discuss the patent (Little and Kahrl 1963: 1.74). By the end of January, and following that meeting, Susannah and Garrick’s partnership appeared to have been affirmed, and it had further been proposed that ‘Mr Quin should be one of the triumvirate’, an idea which gave Susannah, who was a close friend of Quin’s, ‘great pleasure’ (Garrick 1835: 1.48). In this letter to Garrick in January, and as a result of her sense of the verbal agreement to purchase the patent together, Susannah’s tone had noticeably changed. No longer promoting her own value or shifting tones from paragraph to paragraph, now Susannah wrote to Garrick in the tone of a co-manager. When considering the idea of Quin as co-patentee, Susannah’s opinion was therefore also inflected by her sense of her managerial position, and she noted that ‘besides being a great actor’ Quin ‘is a very useful one, and will make the under actors mind their business’ (Garrick 1835: 1.49). Yet it is her comment that ‘I shall take Mr Draper’s advice in every thing ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations . . . 157 STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 9. These remaining letters are dated 26 February 1746, 8 April 1746, 8 June and 29 June 1746 and are notably different in tone from Susannah’s earlier correspondence, dealing mainly with non-theatrical business. In February Susannah sent Garrick a glove and asked him to bring her back ‘ten dozen made exactly of the same size [. . .] as a particular favour’, also mentioning her ‘love to Ireland’ and the fact that her desire to return there was sadly prohibited by her being unable to ‘muster up courage enough even to think of crossing the sea’ (Garrick 1835: 1.39–40). In the final two letters of this year the correspondence focussed primarily on Garrick’s upcoming visit to Woodhay, Susannah and William’s country retreat. On 8 June 1746 Susannah wrote to Garrick with the arrangements, informing him that ‘the chaise shall meet you at Reading or Newbury, whichever you choose’ and asking him to ‘bring fine weather, health and spirits with you, and stay a good while when you are hear [sic]’ (Garrick 1835: 1.43). On 29 June, having clearly received a letter in which Garrick proposed only to stay for a short period Susannah responded irritably, ‘if you are serious about staying here but a few days only, I desire you will not come [. . .] the farmer [Sloper] bids me tell you the 2:40 PM Page 158 relating to the scheme we have in hand’ (Garrick 1835: 1.50 my italics) which is most suggestive. With this one phrase it becomes apparent that by January 1746 Susannah felt that she had won her battle to convince Garrick to join with her as co-patentee of Drury Lane, and that the only battle left was that of actually winning the patent. As this is the last correspondence relating to the patent, it would be lovely to close the matter on this positive note and leave Susannah looking ahead excitedly to the purchase of the patent with her close friends and colleagues, David Garrick and James Quin. Unfortunately, however, as we know, fifteen months later, on 9 April 1747, Garrick did purchase the patent but by this time it was not Susannah Cibber but James Lacy – the same manager who had attacked both Susannah and Garrick the previous year – who was his partner and co-patentee. What happened in the intervening months has been lost. We can never know at what point Susannah became aware of Garrick’s negotiations with Lacy, or how Garrick broke this news to Susannah. Over this period there are only four letters sent from Susannah to Garrick which exist in the collection, and significantly none of these letters references either the patent or Susannah’s ambitions.9 In September 1746 Garrick even stayed with Susannah and William Sloper for a month on his return from Dublin, a stay during which he described himself as ‘never in better spirits or more nonsensical in my life’ (Little and Kahrl 1963: 1.86). Yet whether the matter of the patent had been resolved by this date, or was even brought up in discussion, we can never know. Moreover, with a substantial gap in Garrick’s private correspondence following 1747, the consequences of Garrick’s rejection of Susannah after her long-fought attempt to convince him will never be known.10 Perhaps all we can say with some degree of certainty is that Susannah’s unique contract, when she joined the Drury Lane company under Garrick and Lacy, must have been to some extent recompense by Garrick for his treatment of her over the period.11 The final piece in the story comes in the form of a question put to Somerset Draper by Garrick in December 1745, and gives us the only evidence we have as to why Garrick ultimately chose to join with James Lacy rather than Susannah Cibber. On 26 December 1745, only a few days after he had written to Draper about the potential of joining with Susannah on ‘easy terms’, Garrick had written to Draper again: I should be glad of your visiting Mrs Cibber, she certainly has had proposals made to her; but how can she be a joint patentee? Her husband will interfere, or somebody must act for her, which would be equally disagreeable. (Garrick 1835: 1.74) In this one short phrase Garrick highlighted the most fundamental problem that Susannah encountered, and the one reason we have for why she ultimately failed in her bid to become a patentee. While she might have had the skills and abilities to manage Drury Lane with Garrick, and she certainly 158 Helen Brooks STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 159 had the ambition and drive, as a married woman Susannah Cibber had no legal identity. At best therefore, she could only be a de facto partner. Ultimately, for Garrick this was too much of a risk, laying him open to the interference of Susannah’s estranged husband, her brother Thomas Arne, or any other male in her life. The fact that Garrick had little time for either of these two male figures made it even less likely that he would take the risk of joining with Susannah. With Theophilus being, by all accounts, an unpleasant, greedy and morally corrupt man and Thomas Arne an overbearing figure, Garrick’s reluctance to join with Susannah and give these men access to the patent is hardly surprising. Ultimately, however, whilst Susannah had striven to negotiate her gender identity in her letters, had proved her managerial abilities and had almost succeeded in convincing Garrick to join with her, it was the one unchangeable aspect of her identity, her sex, and the consequences of it, which prevented her from achieving her ambition and becoming the first female manager of Drury Lane theatre. Works cited Garrick, David (1835), The Private Correspondence of David Garrick, With the Most Celebrated Persons of His Time, Now First Published From the Originals and Illustrated With Notes, and a New Biographical Memoir of Garrick, London: H. Colburn by R. Bentley. Highfill, Philip, Kalman Burnim and Edward Langhans (eds.) (1973), A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & other Stage Personnel in London, 1660–1800, 16 vols, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Little, David M. and George M. Kahrl (eds.) (1963), The Letters of David Garrick, 3 Vol., London: Oxford University Press. Suggested citation Brooks, H. (2008), ‘“Your sincere friend and humble servant”: Evidence of managerial aspirations in Susannah Cibber’s letters’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 28: 2, pp. 147–159, doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.147/1 Contributor details Having completed her PhD on the changing construction of the eighteenth-century actress, Helen Brooks now teaches Drama at the University of Nottingham. E-mail: [email protected] ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations . . . 159 same: the only amends I think you can make for disappointing us last year, is the staying a good while now, and I desire you will bring your servant, and what other conveniences you think proper’ (Garrick 1835: 1.43). 10. In 1749 there are only two letters published, and following this there is a substantial gap until the next letter which is in 1754. 11. When Susannah Cibber joined Garrick and Lacy at Drury Lane, her contract had some unique clauses. As well as being allowed to read all new plays and claim any female role she wanted, the costs of both Susannah’s dresser and stage wardrobe, including jewels, were paid for by the company. STP-28-2-04-Brooks 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 160 STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 161 Notes and Queries Studies in Theatre and Performance Volume 28 Number 2 © 2008 Intellect Ltd Notes and Queries. English language. doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.161/3 Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance practice Kay Savage Abstract Keywords There is no clear consensus regarding the importance of early modern stage directions in the writing, reading, or, arguably more importantly, the acting of sixteenth-century plays. It is an area of study that has been dominated, well into the twentieth-century, by literary critics of drama. As a result, the stage directions in this early drama have been (and, it may be argued, still are) treated as sub-literary, often beneath notice or remark. But no theatrically minded critic can ignore the importance of these stage directions to the actual staging of a play. The significance of these stage directions is that they date from an early, no-holds-barred stage in the development of the English dramatic repertoire, and the plays of the often overlooked ‘Jack of all trades’ Robert Greene (1558–1592) provide us with a rich and provocative source. Although Greene was, in many ways, a highly sophisticated Renaissance writer, he was, in other ways, a ‘primitive’ (just as Marlowe was), because he was writing for a theatre that had not yet learned to smooth its rough edges. Greene’s ‘texts’ provide an extreme example of the textual instability of much surviving early modern drama. The plays I treat are indisputably ‘early’ in the evolution of Elizabethan drama, and that is important here. They offer a provocative insight into Elizabethan stage practices during the formative years of the newly professional theatre. Greene was writing drama before the professional theatre had learned its limitations, and while it was establishing its conventions. This gives Greene’s published texts a special value: conventions were still being formed, rather than, as was largely the case when Shakespeare’s plays came to be published, and wholly by the seventeenth century, fully established. Robert Greene Robert Greene was not a company writer; he was not in control of his plays’ performances and so could not have used any form of shorthand in his playwriting. His plays were written to be attractive to whoever had the money to buy them. Like Marlowe’s and Peele’s, Greene’s is an early ‘canon’, and there is a fanciful element to the stage directions in his plays which is shared only with some of the later – and highly fanciful – plays of Dekker and Heywood. He challenged what the stage could do, and much of my concern is with the Elizabethan audience’s willingness to share in the STP 28 (2) 161–182 © Intellect Ltd 2008 161 Elizabethan staging evidence from stage directions theatrical conventions audience expectation publishing conventions STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 162 theatrical magic suggested by the stage directions. This article identifies some of the questions that these stage directions raise in relation to the first performances of these plays and offers answers or informed speculation regarding what might have actually happened on the Elizabethan stage. Greene was writing when the professional theatre was in formation, before the decisive creation of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The stage directions in his plays reflect a theatre that did not yet know what it could not (or could) do. If the printers were grappling with manuscripts from men like Marlowe and Greene, so were the theatre companies. To some extent, then, Marlowe and Greene were setting standards. But, probably because he was a much lesser theatre poet than Marlowe, Greene relied more on theatrical magic and spectacle than Marlowe did. What I have in mind are the first and early performances of these plays, not later revivals. When Greene was writing, the Rose (pre-1592 alterations) was the most sophisticated of the London playhouses, and that the early professional companies had to be adaptable is well known. A play performed last week in one of London’s open-air theatres must be performed this week in a provincial guildhall, the upper room of an inn and the great hall of a Tudor grandee’s mansion. Stage directions in extant early modern plays offer unique access to the kinds of staging decision that companies made ‘at home’ or ‘on the road’. And it is arguable that Greene’s ‘canon’, however frayed and ‘car-booted’, provides supreme evidence, through its stage directions, of the on-the-spot resourcefulness of the fast-learning professional companies. During the course of this research, in order to give shape to my findings, I have attempted to categorise the disparate stage directions found in Greene’s work. There are two tiers to these categories, primary and secondary. The primary categories are; ‘battlefield’, ‘convention led’, ‘combative’, ‘instructional’, ‘retrospective’ and ‘spectacular’, whilst ‘actorly’, ‘disguise’, ‘permissive’, ‘property led’ and ‘tiring-house’ are secondary categories. This division is used when stage directions cross over categories, the primary taking precedence. What follows below is a description of each type of stage direction in the taxonomy, accompanied by an example. The reference for all of Greene’s stage directions is Churton Collins’s edition of the plays. Actorly directions Stage directions of this type inform the actor’s performance in terms of portraying character and/or emotions. They are the closest stage directions to directorial comments. They do not refer to physical instructions, such as kneeling, nor to conventions of staging such as talking aside, but rather to how the actor should be performing. ‘Actorly’ directions, however concise, impart information not otherwise immediately obvious from the text. They may say what the actor does (his ‘stage business’), or they may indicate what he is (his character ‘type’). Questions regarding provenance arise: do they represent authorial advice to the player? Or are they there to help the reader visualise performance? 162 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 163 Enter the King of Paphlagonia, malcontent. (A Looking Glass for London and England, 2:1) It is interesting that Dessen and Thomson (p. 139) list only two examples of ‘malcontent’, both of which are from Greene’s canon, the other being, ‘Enter Edward the First, malcontented’ (Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, 1:1:0). It is therefore arguable that this description was a favourite of Greene’s to express his intent to actors. Malcontent suggests a whole manner of behaviour, signalled by costume and posture. It is a type rather than an adverb/adjective.1 Malcontent suggests a form of melancholy which is different from the more common mad, particularly with reference to the performance of such conditions on stage. The 1580s saw the beginning of a growth of interest in, and attempts to understand, mental illness; in 1586 Timothy Bright published his Treatise on Melancholy and in 1621 the more widely known Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton was printed. Dessen and Thomson’s dictionary (p. 143) provides fourteen examples of melancholy characters, but also mentions that there are no clues as to how this state of mind was portrayed. We should therefore look for clues in the contemporary beliefs. Melancholy was thought to be an intellectual condition, one which preyed upon man’s inner fears and sorrows and was passive in its manifestation. Melancholy was associated with Italy in particular, and English travellers returning from Italy, silent, morose and preoccupied, were described as malcontents. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the actor would try to recreate the accepted image of a melancholic man, that is, lean, hard skinned with dusky colouring, and with characteristics including insomnia, timidity and anxiety (Overholser: 343). We may also look for clues towards the ‘Romantic Melancholy’ trend, which emerged in portrait painting from 1590s onwards. These paintings often depicted young gentlemen staring out at us from behind their self-inflicted despair, in poses captured by the figures on the 1628 title-page of Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (see Figure 1). Burton supports these ideas and images with his description of the ‘inamorato’, which seems particularly relevant to Greene’s Paphlagonian king: I’ th’under Columne there doth stand, Inamorato with folded hande. Downe hanges his head, terse and polite Some Dittie sure he doth endite. His lute and bookes about him lye, As symptomes of his vanity. If this doe not enough disclose, To paint him, take thy selfe by th’nose. Also indicative is ‘Tamburlaine all in black, and very melancholy’ (I Tamburlaine, 5:1:63). Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 163 1. I draw your attention to the play The Malcontent (1604) by Martson. STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 164 2. See, for example, articles such as ‘Shakespeare and the battlefield’ (MacIntyre) and ‘Battle scenes in the Queen’s Men repertoire’ (Calore). Figure 1: Images of melancholy – An unknown young man by Isaac Oliver (Strong: 1969b: 36) and details from the 1628 title-page of Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (Neely: 5). Battlefield directions It is difficult to contest the idea that there are stage directions that belong to and adhere to the conventions of staging battles.2 Such directions are categorised here as ‘battlefield’. They are stage directions that either recreate visually or suggest aurally large-scale fights or that involve aggressive intentions displayed by an army or two opposing armies. ‘Battlefield’ directions, then, are not concerned with pugnacious individuals, but warring countries, states or factions. They imply conventions; of the staging of marching armies, as seen in the notorious ‘marching over the stage’, of entering onto the stage in mid-battle, of exiting the stage to join an unseen battle and of creating the sound of a battle taking place in the offstage world. ‘Battlefield’ directions raise questions concerning the use of the stage, the blocking and movement of a large number of characters, fight choreography, the use of properties and the role of the tiring-house. Enter Orlando, the Duke of Aquitaine, the Count Rossilion with soldiers. Sound a parle and one comes upon the walls. Exeunt omnes. (Orlando Furioso, 1:2) Alarums. Rodamant and Brandemart fly. (Orlando Furioso, 1:3) Sound a parle is a common stage direction which occurs when a city is under siege and either the attackers or defenders sound a parle/parley as a signal to converse with the enemy: for example, ‘They sound a parley: Enter two Senators with others on the walls of Corioles’ (Coriolanus, 1:4:13). It is one of the aural directions belonging to the convention of staging such scenes. In this example, Orlando, with his French troops, is about to attack Rodamant’s castle, and the dialogue suggests the threat of, rather than actual, violence. This still requires a significant number of men onstage with Orlando who are armed and ready to fight. Such stage directions also pose the question of where the sound comes from and what form it takes. 164 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 165 There are three possibilities; that a noise, most likely a trumpet call, is made offstage in the tiring-house, that a musician positioned close to the stage is responsible or that it is made onstage by an actor. If the latter, which is more likely, then this convention required an actor to produce a sound which was recognised by the audience as a request for conference, whilst also signalling intent. The walls are ‘strictly speaking a fictional designation for the level above the main platform, . . . a technical term, usually used in the context of battle’ (Dessen and Thomson: 245). So the instruction that one comes upon the walls simply means that the entrance for this character is onto the gallery, above the stage. As this scene is relatively short, 57 lines, such an entrance is both practical and effective. Hodges illustrates, if a little fancifully, how the playhouse may have looked for such scenes (see Figure 2). Another example may be found in George a Greene (2:1:274), Enter Jane a Barley upon the walls. Together with the preceding spoken line, ‘Johnie, knock at that gate’, this stage direction represents a typical scene in Elizabethan drama. The back wall of the stage represents a fictional location, the outer walls or gates of a town or building, which is approached by various characters, often in a battle or situation of conflict. Here Sir John a Barley’s castle is approached by the King of Scots and his soldiers who make threats to besiege the castle. The characters who enter on the walls appear either to negotiate or defend themselves. The knock at the gates is the cue for Jane a Barley to enter. Where does the actor knock? The possibilities include one of the stage pillars, on the stage floor or on the back wall itself. It is logical for Jane to appear in the gallery above the back wall if a door on the back wall is knocked upon. The convention of such scenes often includes a call to battle: ‘The trumpets sound without, and an answer within; then a flourish, King Richard appeareth on the walls’ (Richard II, 3:3:61). This is no exception, as Jane a Barley defends her home, shouting defiantly ‘I am armed’ (2:1:330), after which comes the direction Alarum within. As Calore (p. 396) points out, it is the direction in 1:3 of Orlando Furioso, ‘Alarums. Rodamant and Brandemart fly’, that confirms that this set of directions belongs to the category of ‘battlefield’.3 After Orlando has spoken to the soldier on the walls, he gives the order to his soldiers, ‘lets to the fight’ (1:2:417), and they exit. The battle is conducted offstage. Apart from the alarums that sound as Rodamant and Brandemart flee, defeated, there would have been other aural indicators to convey the battle to the audience. Vocal cries and the clashing of weapons would have needed to be effective indicators of the progress of the battle in order to justify the flight. One way of portraying this would be by having the actors simply enter through one door, traverse the stage and then exit through the other door, whilst all the time the noise of the battle rages on. The defeat of Mycetes is comparably signalled by Marlowe in I Tamburlaine (2:4): ‘To the battle, and Mycetes comes out alone’. Convention allows that even offstage battles have a fixed location.4 Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 165 3. Calore’s article highlights some of the conventions of staging battles in plays of the 1580s and 1590s. 4. The two parts of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine contain a variety of comparable ‘battlefield’ directions. STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 166 Figure 2: Hodges’s interpretation of the evolution of the tiring-house façade in order to stage ‘on the walls’. There are token gestures towards creating the illusion of battlements. However, it is difficult to imagine that these were a permanent fixture, although there may be a case for employing such detail for military plays, where much of the action involved the walls, for example the three parts of Henry VI. The important, and perhaps necessary feature, is simply the space above, which could be occupied by the actors when they were required to come upon the walls. (Hodges 1999: 62–5) Convention led directions This heading covers the broadest range of stage directions. ‘Convention led’ directions are often phrased with a certain economy, implying that the actors and company knew what to do, what was expected from such directions. As 166 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 167 such, these directions were features of both staging and performance that were recognised by theatre companies and audiences alike. This may be illustrated by the use of the phrase ‘as you know’ which appears in the stage directions of John of Bordeaux – for example, ‘Exeunt Bacon to bring in the showes as you know’ ( l:446–7). The broad spectrum of ‘convention led’ directions encompasses many aspects of Elizabethan performance. It addresses the contentious issues of what resources the Elizabethan stage offered, the use of a gallery and how the actors reached it, how curtains were employed and where they hung, and the use of stage doors. It raises questions about how the actors used the stage; for example, when characters are directed to ‘walk up and down’, to ‘knock’ or ‘stand aloof ’. Many entrances and exits fall into the category of ‘convention led’ directions, especially those involving royal characters. These entrances rely on protocol, the convention of a definite order in which the characters entered the stage (Munkelt: 254).5 Other entrances and exits that are ‘convention led’ include ‘offering’ to exit, ‘entering’ at some form of work or place (in a bed or study) and the transition of locale onstage denoted by the phrase ‘goes into’. One means of defining a stage direction as ‘convention led’ is simply through its recurrence throughout this period of dramatic history. For example, both actors and readers knew what was meant by references to ‘conjuring’ or ‘banquets’; and visual signals would also guide the performance of ‘ghosts’ and ‘madness’. In a sense, of course, all stage directions are ‘convention led’, but my interest here is in those which take for granted the familiarity (of both actors and readers) with certain modes of behaviour. Medea does ceremonies belonging to conjuring and says (Alphonsus King of Aragon, 3:2) I would like to suggest that ‘convention led’ directions like this one, ceremonies belonging to conjuring, demonstrate that both the actors, and to some extent the audience, know what these are, as no further elaboration is provided. This is black magic, not trickery, and is distinct from white magic. Invariably associated with acts of the supernatural, in this instance to raise up Calchas, it was a commonplace effect; compare ‘Here do the ceremonies belonging, and make the circle. Southwell reads “Conjuro te”, etc. It thunders and Lightens terribly: then the spirit Asnath riseth’ (2 Henry VI, 1.4.22). (See Figure 3) Was there some sort of set routine? Was there any way of emphasising what type of magic it was, perhaps involving the drawing of or making a circle (Dessen and Thomson: 42)? What was Medea’s costume? Such magicians were stock characters who not only behaved in a certain way but were dressed a particular way too; for example, ‘One in the habit of a Conjurer’ (The White Devil, 2:2). Convention also leads more commonplace stage directions, too: Bacon and Edward goes in to the study (Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, 2:3) Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 167 5. Munkelt’s essay argues in favour of the significance of stage directions as an integral part of the dramatic text. She makes some interesting comments regarding this convention and how it often mirrors not only the plot of the play, but also the sub-plots. STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 168 6. Seltzer (p.31) suggests that the actors walk across the stage, and that there is no specific area that denotes the study. However, such a notion renders these stage directions virtually meaningless. Figure 3: Hodges’s vision of the staging of ‘do the ceremonies belonging, and make the circle. Southwell reads ‘Conjuro te’, etc. It thunders and lightens terribly, then the spirit Asnath rises’ – 2 Henry VI, 1:4:23. Source: Hodges: 1999, p. 117. Enter Friar Bacon with Friar Bungay to his cell (Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, 4:3) There are five scenes set in Friar Bacon’s study or cell, 1:2, 2:3, 4:1, 4:3 and 5:2. These two stage directions regarding the entry to this location are the simplest, and also occur for scenes in which the mirror is used (this ‘magic’ mirror is central to the plot and allows characters to watch what is happening in various different locations of the play without being seen). Were these scenes always played in the same onstage location? As a starting point, let us suppose that they were. If Friar Bacon’s study was located consistently in the same place, then it would have to have been on the main stage, because, in 4:3, the spectacular event of the talking brazen head takes place there. Indicative factors, such as Lambert’s and Serlsby’s sons knocking to enter the study (4:3), suggest that the downstage area represented the study. This also makes sense of the instructions to go to the study. Much depends upon the actors indicating this motion of going in to. If the actors enter upstage then pause or indeed knock on the pillar, before going in to, which is perhaps signalled by a gesture of ‘motion towards’ with a head and/or an arm, then the downstage area of the stage is established as the study.6 This idea is supported by the difference between goes in to and the more frequent ‘enter in his study’, or simply ‘in his study’ (Dessen and Thomson: 220). For example, compare ‘Enter devils with covered dishes; Mephostophilis leads them in to Faustus’ study’ (Doctor Faustus, [1616], 5:1) which employs the same staging device as that under discussion here, with ‘Enter Soranzo in his study’ (‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, 2:2) which suggests that the character is in the study as soon as he enters the stage. With regard to events that take place through the magic mirror, the characters in the study could simply move further downstage, either left or 168 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 169 right. This would not inhibit the use of the main stage for the playing of the ‘transposed’ scene. This also fits with the exits and entrances, as, in both scenes, it is the characters in the study who leave the stage last, and so they are able to move back to downstage centre to finish the scene. However, it has been suggested that these entrances refer to the study being placed in the gallery above the stage.7 The main reason for such a theory appears to be the pleasing visual effect it produces as Bacon ‘magically’ displays the distant action to his visitors through the mirror. But there are no signals in the stage directions that the gallery was used, and, as already pointed out, the main stage could have accommodated both sets of characters. Using the main stage for all of the scenes set in Friar Bacon’s study is not only consistent, but also gives the actors more room to execute the action called for in the subsequent stage directions: Bacon smashes the mirror and Lambert and Serlsby kill each other. Elizabethan players would not have confined such events to a small gallery. Combative directions ‘Combative’ directions are those involving fighting or, more accurately, violence, that do not fall into the category of ‘battlefield’ directions. They usually involve individuals who either engage in a one-to-one duel or deliver self-contained, singular blows to another character without response. ‘Combative’ directions may or may not require weapons. They range from the spectacular rapier and dagger fights between two characters to the simple but effective, and often comic, ‘box on the ears’. ‘Combative’ directions are identified by both action and lexical choices, for example ‘stab’ and ‘beat’.8 He fights first with one, and then with another and overcomes them both (Orlando Furioso, 5:2) Orlando Furioso is a visual feast which centres on both combat and disguise; discounting straightforward exits and entrances, stage directions involving violence and disguise/costume account for almost half the total number. This is one such example, which, along with the following ‘They fight a good while and then breathe’, raises questions about the conventions of Elizabethan stage fighting. Edelman (p. 19) describes the scene as one of ‘colourful combat’, but does not discuss how it might have been executed. No weapons are specified, but the scene is part of the climax of the play, and a duel with swords between these characters of high status would be appropriate, especially as hand-to-hand combat has already featured during the play. How was this fight choreographed? The stage direction insists that Orlando fights with only one character at a time. Elizabethan audiences contrasted with the realism-seeking audiences of today, hungry for computer-generated images, as it was accepted that characters watched fights, waiting for their turn, rather than engaging in the more realistic mass punch-up. But what this provided was the spectacle of the duel, full of Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 169 7. Lavin (p. xviii) discusses the implications of setting these scenes in the gallery. 8. See Dessen and Thomson, pp. 265–266. The Dictionary provides a useful list of terms that relate to ‘combative’ directions in a list of terms under ‘violence’ and ‘weapons’. STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 170 energy and excitement. If these two fights are considered together with ‘They fight a good while then breathe’, which occurs seven lines later, then what is presented is two quick duels followed by a longer, more evenly matched contest. This prolongs the thrill for the audience, and it is not unreasonable to suggest that the actors would have made the most of these opportunities for sensational action. Oliver and Turpin are the characters whom Orlando overcomes, and, as they speak later in the scene, they cannot be seriously injured. There is no direction indicating that either of the characters is wounded, so that overcomes must simply mean that a better swordsman beats them, and that they submit to that. Disguise directions Stage directions which fall into the category of ‘disguise’ directions are those that refer solely to the disguise, costume or appearance of the character. Along with ‘property led’ directions, ‘disguise’ directions highlight the significance of visual signals on the relatively bare Elizabethan stage. In the case of straightforward disguises it is necessary to consider the purpose of the disguise and to question what the disguise’s connotations are for the audience. However small or insignificant a change of hat or coat may seem to a twenty-first-century audience, in the sixteenth century it meant something to the audience and players. Disguise plots are announced and explained in plays in order to clarify for the reader what was already apparent to the spectator, that it is a disguise and not a new character. Costume was indicative of character. ‘Disguise’ directions often have implications for the actor’s performance, suggesting a type of behaviour, for example ‘enter dressed like a madman’. Changes in a character’s appearance could also signal a change in time, circumstance or status. ‘The dependence of the Elizabethan stage on the meanings that clothes give to social groupings, setting out at a glance the structure and potential of what we see, helps to explain the obsession with disguise plots’ (Hunter: 36). Enter King Edward and King James disguised, with two staves (George a Greene, 5:1) The two kings conceal their identity in order to travel up to Bradford and observe George a Greene, about whom they have heard many good things. The disguise could be as simple as a change in coats, which is enhanced by descriptions such as ‘yeomans weedes’ (1041). The title-page of A quip for an upstart courtier illustrates the difference ‘between velvet breeches and cloth breeches’, and shows us the difference in the clothes that the actors may have worn for portraying ‘gentlemen’ and ‘peasants’ (see Figure 4). Instructional directions Put simply, ‘instructional’ directions are stage directions that provide instructions for the actor. There is somewhat of a blurred line between 170 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 171 Figure 4: Title-page of Greene’s A Quip for an Upstart Courtier, 1592. Source: Foakes, p. 70. ‘convention led’, ‘instructional’ and ‘actorly’ directions, but ‘instructional’ directions occupy the middle ground between ‘convention led’ and ‘actorly’. Where ‘convention led’ directions allude concisely to an accepted and established way of executing a complex action, ‘instructional’ directions call for specific stage business. And where ‘actorly’ directions inform the actor’s performance on an emotional level, ‘instructional’ directions use neutral vocabulary and refer to physical actions, for example ‘knocking’ and ‘kneeling’. ‘Instructional’ directions also fulfil another function, that of exposition, and, as such, longer ‘instructional’ directions are often found at the beginning of scenes. He breaks the glass (Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, 4:3) Remarkably, despite the importance of the mirror to the play’s action, this stage direction is the only one that explicitly mentions Bacon’s magical Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 171 STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 172 mirror. This crucial property, along with the brazen head, raises questions regarding not only the nature of the properties themselves, but also the staging of them. The two scenes in which the mirror is used begin with similar stage directions; ‘Bacon and Edward goes into the study’ (2:3), and for this scene (4:3), ‘Enter Friar Bacon with Friar Bungay to his cell’. Relevant to discussing ‘He breaks the glass’ are the possibilities that this scene takes place either on the main stage or Figure 5: Detail from a French in the gallery. If the scene were played publication of 1539 showing a on the main stage, it would lend itself to mirror, about the size of a human head, on a stand. using a larger mirror than a scene in Source: Melchior-Bonnet, p. 25. the gallery. However, as the mirror is smashed it is unlikely that it would be of any considerable size. Lavin’s assertion that a hand mirror is used is the logical solution, and not just because of practical reasons of staging (Lavin: xvii). A mirror that could be easily carried could be brought on and off the stage by Friar Bacon, and would not raise further problems of setting. If the mirror is broken, a new one would be required for each performance, and glass was an expensive material. Perhaps a substitute was used, such as steel glass. From what I can gather, it is unlikely that large mirrors were a feature of houses at this time, and the biggest mirrors I can find reference to are about the size of a head (see Figure 5 – perhaps something similar is used by Richard II in Shakespeare’s play: ‘Richard takes the glass and looks in it’, then ‘He shatters the glass’, 4:1:266 and 279). Another possibility is that it was not made of glass at all and that nothing actually breaks. If Friar Bacon throws and stamps on the ‘mirror’, that, together with Bungay’s line ‘What means learned Bacon thus to breake his glasse?’, would be enough to carry out the instruction ‘He breaks the glass’. Permissive directions This is a particularly intriguing category, and one that is in direct contrast with the specific nature of ‘instructional’ directions. ‘Permissive’ directions, although relatively rare, are still discernible and reflect the need for flexibility in Elizabethan staging. The significance of this category is confirmed by its inclusion as an entry in its own right in Dessen and Thomson’s Dictionary (pp. 161–2), where the definition states that ‘permissive’ directions ‘leave key details indeterminate’. They are used most frequently for entrances, where an indefinite number of actors are required (e.g. the entry of a leading character ‘with others’). ‘Permissive’ directions are also employed for actions, usually musical – ‘he plays and sings any odd toy’ – where either the playwright has left the choice to the actors or the printer/compositor has deemed it superfluous to be more specific. ‘Permissive’ directions 172 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 173 occur as a result of the adaptability necessary for touring plays beyond the purpose-built London playhouses, when companies could not be certain of the number of actors, or the staging resources available to them. They are identified by the use of permissive terms.9 Consistently remarkable is the nature of the stage directions in James IV, which provides my example for this category. Enter Slipper with a companion, boy or wench, dancing a hornpipe, and dance out again (James IV – Chorus 2) This immediately hints at a clown’s solo act, a chance for the performer to show off his talents and please the crowd (a recurring feature of the play). The direction is specific about the dance and music, a hornpipe, but it seems as if there is definite intent to vary the song-and-dance routines as much as possible. If boy or wench is to be read literally, the suggestion that anyone will do to play the clown’s stooge, even a girl, contains a fascinating flexibility. The obvious interpretation of this stage direction is that a young boy in the company joins the clown, dressed either as a boy or girl. However, European companies toured England at this time with female actors, a novelty that some London audiences found offensive. But was this ever more than a vocal minority? And was the growth of Puritanism as rapid in the provinces as it was in London? Provincial playgoers, accustomed to seasonal festivities, might have been more complacent than their metropolitan counterparts. When on tour, is it possible that the clown picked out a member of the audience to join him, whoever caught his eye, boy or wench? The actor has had enough time to do some scouting. This stage direction, with its invitation to female involvement, may have been penned with touring in mind. We should be wary of assuming that London spoke for the nation. Property led directions ‘Property led’ directions, as the term suggests, are stage directions that centre upon the deployment of a property, used either by actors or placed onstage. Like ‘disguise’ directions, ‘property led’ directions highlight the fact that the Elizabethan stage was a visual as well as an aural experience. Properties often supply information about the character, setting or situation, and this is reflected in the attention to detail often afforded to ‘property led’ directions. Enter the Emperor with a pointless sword; next the King of Castile carrying a sword with a point; Lacy carrying the globe, Edward Warren carrying a rod of gold with a dove on it; Ermsby with a crown and sceptre; the Queen with the fair maid of Fresingfield on her left hand, Henry, Bacon, with other Lords attending (Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, 5:3) This is a precise and elaborate example of a ‘property led’ direction. It is necessary to consider the significance of these various properties. Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 173 9. Dessen and Thomson (p. 263) provide a useful list of permissive terms. STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 174 10. It is possible that Greene had learnt to exploit the dramatic potential of processions, which McMillin and MacLean (p. 130) list as an established feature of the Queen’s Men’s plays. There is another one in James IV (5:2). 11. Seltzer (p. 94) claims that the dove represents the Holy Ghost. Figure 6: Portrait of Elizabeth I by an unknown artist; note the globe under her right hand. Source: Strong: 1969a, plate 206. Dessen and Thomson (p. 167) cite this stage direction as the only example of a pointless sword used in a ceremony. The dialogue seems to confirm the obvious assumption; that the instruction for a pointless/pointed sword signifies the power wielded by the characters. This demonstrates that the visual symbolism of characters’ status was indeed an important element of Elizabethan staging, and the phrasing of the stage direction seems to indicate that this was also portrayed through the movements on stage. How was the effect of a pointed and pointless sword achieved? It is worth pointing out that ‘buttons’ on practice swords were often big enough to be clearly visible. The implication is that the sword is safe, harmless. The entrance is staggered: the humbled character enters first, perhaps in an appropriate way with head bowed, paving the way for the next character’s entrance. It is interesting that the globe is identified by a definite article. Looking at the final speech of the play, with its three explicit references to England, it is difficult to resist the notion that it alludes to the power of the state under Elizabeth I. Henslowe’s inventory of properties includes a globe (See Figure 6). Rod of gold with a dove on it: rods are associated with the supernatural, which would fit with the mood of the play, and adds to the status of the procession.10 Why is it necessary that the rod is gold? It is another visual statement denoting wealth, royalty and power. The dove surely has religious overtones,11 thereby commenting on the divine nature of royalty. But what is the significance of the ‘fair maid’ Margaret’s being on the Queen’s left hand? Was it court etiquette? It would seem that status may be the reason behind this particular instruction. Normally, one would expect Margaret to enter behind the Queen, but the Queen is deliberately 174 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 175 defying hierarchy, and by entering with Margaret beside her, she makes a statement of equality. This is a very precise stage direction that demonstrates the clarity of movement involved in such entrances. It indicates a definite order in which the characters enter, finishing with unnamed courtiers. These lords perform the staging convention of attending, which helps establish the atmosphere of a royal court. This direction is clear and precise regarding the entrance of characters, especially when compared to a similar processional style entrance in James IV: ‘After a solemn service, enter from the Countess of Arran’s house a service, musical songs of marriage, or a masque, or what pretty triumph you list; to them Ateukin and Jaques’ (5:2). Both are scenes in the final act of the play, both are scenes of marriage. Retrospective directions This is without doubt the most contentious category in the taxonomy that I have devised, as it encompasses all the problems and questions raised when discussing the provenance of a stage direction. ‘Retrospective’ directions are stage directions that, I suggest, may have been added to the play-text after initial performances. This does not, however, make their provenance any clearer than stage directions under other headings. They may originate from the playhouse, the printing process, or even the playwright for the benefit of readers.12 In their introduction to the Oxford Complete Works of Shakespeare (p. xxxiii), Wells and Taylor highlight the significance of ‘retrospective’ directions in terms of recovering aspects of a play’s original performances. ‘Retrospective’ directions are examples of descriptions of what has already happened in performance; they have a narrative quality. An identifying feature of ‘retrospective’ directions is the way in which they storyboard the action, as when a disproportionately large number of stage directions occur over a relatively short number of lines. ‘Retrospective’ directions are usually superfluous to strict requirements, as the content of the stage direction is overtly suggested in the dialogue. They are exact, explicit and creative, often narrating the physical relationship between people, properties and the sequence of action to the readers. There is also often a pattern of repetition. Another indicative feature of ‘retrospective’ directions is the use of certain terms; ‘say’, ‘says’, ‘speaks’, ‘and so’, ‘so’ and ‘here’. ‘Here’ is particularly interesting. It appears quite often in the margins of the annotated quarto of A Looking Glass for London and England, and has perhaps slipped accidentally into the printing of some stage directions, a slippage that would support the argument for its being indicative of a ‘retrospective’ direction. ‘Here’ signals a precision of timing in performance, or clarification of when an action happens in the printed text. The variations of ‘say’ may be a reflection of the inexperience of both the playwright and/or compositor (see Alphonsus, King of Aragon for numerous examples), whereas the phrase ‘and so’ provides reasoning and justification for the actions taking place in the dramatic narrative. Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 175 12. Ben Jonson originally omitted stage directions from his scripts, adding them later to be included in the printed versions for the benefit of his readers. STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 176 Albinius spies out Alphonsus and shows him Belinus. Belinus and Albinius go towards Alphonsus. Belinus say to Alphonsus. Shows Belinus Flaminius, who lies all this while dead at his feet. Alphonsus sit in the chair; Belinus takes the crown off Flaminius’ head and puts it on that of Alphonsus. Sound trumpets and drums within. (Alphonsus, King of Aragon, 2:1) Without our even looking at the accompanying dialogue these stage directions are clear and informative enough to allow the reader to visualise the action on stage. They occur over just thirty-nine lines of dialogue. It is like a storyboard, and typical of the stage directions throughout Alphonsus, King of Aragon. Such stage directions provide us with an idea of how the play actually looked and was performed. As readers we are able to picture the manner in which Albinius notices Alphonsus and then points him out to Belinus. We can imagine the gestures made during their exchanges, the atmosphere and mood created by the revelation of Flaminius’s dead body and the crowning of Alphonsus, heralded by fanfares. This happens, and indeed would happen regardless of our understanding or knowledge of Elizabethan performance practice. The use of spies out is very specific; why is sees/finds/looks at not used? The audience was familiar with ideas of observers and spies. But this situation suggests that spies out refers to the fact that Albinius and Belinus do not see Alphonsus at first, but then Albinius suddenly spots him and points him out to Belinus. Other examples in James IV and Orlando Furioso suggest that there may be a theatrical convention involved here. Interestingly there is no entry for spy in Dessen and Thomson’s dictionary, but there are further examples in Orlando Furioso: ‘They spy Orlando’ (3:1) and ‘He spies the roundelays’ (2:1). There is a difference between spying objects and spying other characters. The former is an instruction to the actor, the latter a convention of acting and staging. Orlando is alone onstage in this scene when two clowns enter, and the clowns are already in dialogue before they see Orlando. The actor playing Orlando could be anywhere on stage, as the emphasis of action and realisation is upon the two clown characters. As with the example of spying in James IV, the stage direction suggests characters seeing another onstage without his realising he has been seen. This implies a gesture or movement that lets the audience in on their discovery. Is Shakespeare using a similar convention when Polonius spies on Hamlet, and how does that famous scene relate to ‘Lady Anderson overhears’ in James IV (5:1)? There is an important historical resonance at work here. The Elizabethan audience was familiar with the idea of the dangerous observer. This stage direction alludes to the audience’s appetite and expectations, including topical allusions to court behaviour. Shows him is a frequently used action (Dessen and Thomson: 197–8). But it is unusual to show a person to another, especially as Alphonsus is not hiding. However, there are several actors on stage, so that it would be 176 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 177 easy to stage the scene with Alphonsus not immediately visible to Albinius and Belinus; the pillars may also be used. The question of how the scene was blocked is also raised by the direction Belinus and Albinius go towards Alphonsus. It suggests that Alphonsus is downstage, perhaps to the side, and that Belinus and Albinius move down to join him. Show Belinus, Flaminius, who lies all this while dead at his feet is another very precise stage direction. To have the corpse lying at Alphonsus’s feet perhaps emphasises his triumph. The essence of the stage direction, however, is an instruction to the actor playing Flaminius, who has to lie dead for 86 lines before this stage direction appears. Does this suggest that, unless otherwise instructed, it would have been customary for an actor who has been killed upon the stage to move or be moved soon after his death? Logically, the character lies dead for the entire length of the scene. It is also indicative of the convention of characters not seeing what is literally under their nose, until required to. The audience accepted this. Alphonsus sit in the chair – but the puzzle is how the chair gets on stage. A lot of action and several characters are involved in this scene, and it is unlikely that the chair is pre-set. Perhaps one of the soldiers brings the chair on at an opportune moment so as not to be too noticeable; when Flaminius’s dead body is revealed to Belinus would be convenient. This moment of revelation is happening downstage, and takes six lines of dialogue, during which a soldier slips offstage unnoticed, brings the chair on and places it centre stage. I suggest that not being noticed whilst scene setting is a modern preoccupation, and, as Kiernan points out (p. 123), taking properties on and off stage during scenes at the New Globe has proved unproblematical. Spectacular directions Invariably ‘spectacular’ directions are the most exciting in a play. They reinforce Greene’s position as an exponent of the visual theatre. They are the Elizabethan equivalent of the computer-generated images that excite cinema audiences today. ‘Spectacular’ directions call for the special effects available in Elizabethan playhouses, although some ‘spectacular’ events would also have been performable in touring venues. They involve pyrotechnics, wondrous and grandiose properties, the use of the trap and machinery in the ‘heavens’. Here Bungay conjures and the tree appears with the dragon shooting fire (Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, 3:2) As we have seen, there is a theatrical convention regarding the instruction to conjure, but it is interesting that tree has a definite article here; perhaps a familiar tree property was to be used. Trees were often used in dumb shows and for special effects;13 for example, ‘Hereupon did rise a tree of gold laden with diadems and crowns of gold’ (The Arraignment of Paris, 2:2), or the apparition presented to Macbeth. Henslowe’s diary lists three trees; a bay, golden apple and ‘Tantelouse tree’. Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 177 13. See Dessen and Thomson (p. 236) and Habicht (pp. 69–92). Although Habicht’s article is an extensive and useful discussion of the use and meaning of trees on the Elizabethan stage, he does not cite this example in his study. Also see Reynolds (pp. 153–68). Although his article is a little dated, it argues an interesting case for the use of tree scenery on the Elizabethan stage. STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 14. See also Meredith and Tailby, p. 102. 15. See Butterworth, p. 86. Although Butterworth’s main concern is the pyrotechnic effect of the dragon, he also considers the manner of its entrance and points out that the dialogue suggests that the tree is significantly larger than the dragon. Depending upon the size of the trap, a dragon coming up through it may not have been large enough to be manned. If this was the case then a firework would have created the effect, but how close could this come to creating the effect of shooting fire? 2:40 PM Page 178 The pivotal word in this stage direction is appears, suggesting a sudden or unexpected event. The key question is, from where do the tree and dragon appear? The description, using the word with, implies that they enter the stage from the same place. The possibilities are; from underneath the stage via the trap, from above the stage via the heavens, from the back of the stage via the doors. A descent from the heavens would be slow and cumbersome and is not in keeping with a supernatural act. More practical is an entrance from the back. However, this does not really fit the unexpected notion of appears, especially as they have been conjured by Bungay. A sudden and spectacular appearance of the tree and dragon would be through the trap, and Lavin (p. xx) is not alone in supporting this idea,14 but it does present practical difficulties. Henslowe records the existence of property dragons, so they were available as a resource, but the dragon also raises numerous questions. This is where the use of the trap proves problematic. If both the tree and dragon came up through the trap at the same time, then neither could have been very big; yet the dragon, certainly large enough to accommodate a firework, might well also have secreted a person – and the tree seems to have been bigger than the dragon.15 If the dragon was manned, then perhaps it was constructed in a similar way to the dragons that were used in pageants (see Figure 7). Perhaps it is this type of dragon that the Elizabethan commentator Stephen Gosson alluded to in Plays Confuted in Five Acts (1582): ‘Sometime you shall see nothing but the adventures of an amorous knight, passing from country to country for love of his lady, encountering many a terrible monster Figure 7: A photograph of a dragon that took part in pageants in Norwich during the eighteenth century, but the idea dates back to the middle-ages/. Source: Hodges 1968, plate 57. 178 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 179 16. Cited in Cook, p. 56. 17. Butterworth’s conclusion (p. 86) regarding this stage direction is that the fire effect had to be timed to appear either when or just before the properties arrived on stage. 18. Any suppositions regarding the audience reaction of the seventeenth century should be placed within the context of the destruction of the Globe in 1613, due to cannon fire in a performance of Henry VIII. Figure 8: Illustrations of ‘flying dragons’, which also shows how the placement of fireworks may have created the ‘shooting fire’. Source: Butterworth, p. 89. made of brown paper’.16 Although the use of the trap is a logical solution, the possibility of an entrance from the back should not be ruled out and does have merits of its own. It allows the dragon to be manned with somebody inside controlling the fireworks. It also makes possible the very spectacular flying dragon described by Philip Butterworth (pp. 87–9) (See Figure 8). It is unclear whether the fire comes out of the dragon’s mouth or not, but the intention was surely to convince the audience that it did. Whatever the manner of the appearance of the dragon, or the nature of this shooting fire, the effect had to be timed.17 The spectacular and indeed dangerous nature of such stage effects could not have failed to make an impact upon the Elizabethan audience.18 Tiring-house directions These are stage directions that are clearly aimed at the tiring-house. They provide both instructions and cues ranging from special effects, such as ‘thunder and lightning’, to costume changes and the creation of offstage sound effects like ‘alarum within’. Strikes four o’clock (A Looking Glass for London and England, 1:3) As the annotated quarto of the play illustrates with the inserted note ‘strike’ written beside this stage direction, this is a cue for someone in the Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 179 STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 180 tiring-house to produce a sound effect. How was it produced? Presumably with a bell. Was it the responsibility of a tiring-hand or possibly a musician? Numerous comparable examples show that it was a commonly employed, and therefore an easily achievable, effect. (Compare ‘Clock strikes’ in Cymbeline, 2:2:50.) Conclusion So what can be made of these observations? We know that Greene’s plays were written at the end of the 1580s and the first years of the 1590s. As such, they are among those that set the patterns for ambitious staging in the Elizabethan theatre. The English drama dared to present on stage the kind of action that the Greeks had contented themselves with reporting. There is no clear reason why Elizabethan playwrights ignored the Greek model. The University Wits, who worked hardest to establish the new repertoire, were not entirely ignorant of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Why did the English drama develop so differently from that of seventeenthcentury France? The stories of Le Cid or Phèdre would not have been alien to Greene, but he would have told them very differently from Corneille and Racine. It is through recognition of the surprising path that English drama took that the study of stage directions should begin. They provide vivid evidence of an alternative way of envisioning a national drama. Explorations of the stage directions in certain plays, or indeed of individual stage directions in isolation, can reveal important clues about the playwright’s attitudes. There are puzzles to unravel and questions that may never be answered. Often enough, we are left wondering who actually wrote the stage directions – and for whom. The growth of stage direction studies is indicative of the spread through the academies of performative studies of Elizabethan drama. Literary scholars, long before the end of the nineteenth century, had established the poetic richness of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, against the best of whom Greene struggles for recognition. But the professional actors, struggling to establish their status in the busy city of London, were determined that their playhouses would provide a visual feast. Stage directions, alongside the well-known concern for costume, furnish some of the best evidence of that. Works cited Baskervill, Charles R. (1932–33), ‘A prompt copy of A Looking Glass for London and England’, Modern Philology, 30, pp. 29–51. Burton, Robert (1989 [1621]), The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Butterworth, Philip (1998), Theatre of Fire: Special Effects in Early English and Scottish Theatre, London: Society for Theatre Research. Calore, Michela (2003), ‘Battle scenes in the Queen’s Men repertoire’, Notes and Queries, December issue, pp. 394–399. Carson, Neil (1988), A Companion to Henslowe’s Diary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cook, Judith (1995), The Golden Age of English Theatre, London and New York: Simon and Schuster. 180 Kay Savage STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 181 Dessen, Alan and Leslie Thomson (1999), A Dictionary of Stage Directions in English Drama, 1580–1642, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edelman, Charles (1992), Brawl Ridiculous: Sword Fighting in Shakespeare’s Plays, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Foakes, R.A. (1985), Illustrations of the English Stage, 1580–1642, London: Scolar Press. Habicht, Werner (1971), ‘Tree properties and tree scenes in Elizabethan theater’, Renaissance Drama (New Series), IV, pp. 69–92. Hodges, C. Walter (2nd edn. 1968), The Globe Restored: A Study of the Elizabethan Theatre, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ——— (1999), Enter the Whole Army; A Pictorial Study of Shakespearean Staging, 1576–1616, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hunter, G.K. (1980), ‘Flatcaps and Bluecoats: Visual Signals on the Elizabethan Stage’, Essays and Studies, 33, pp. 16–47. Kiernan, Pauline (1999), Staging Shakespeare at the New Globe, London: Macmillan. Lavin, J.A. (ed.) (1969), Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, London: Ernest Benn. MacIntyre, Jean (1982), ‘Shakespeare and the battlefield’, Theatre Survey, 23, pp. 31–44. McMillin, Scott and Sally-Beth MacLean (1998), The Queen’s Men and Their Plays, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Melchior-Bonnet, Sabine (2001), The Mirror: A History (trans. K.H. Jewett), London: Routledge. Meredith, Peter and John Tailby (eds.) (1983), The Staging of Religious Drama in Europe in the Later Middle Ages, Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications. Munkelt, Marga (1987), ‘Stage directions as part of the text’, Shakespeare Studies, 19, pp. 253–272. Neely, Carol T. (2004), Distracted Subjects: Madness and Gender in Shakespeare and Early Modern Culture, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Overholser, Winifred (1959), ‘Shakespeare’s psychiatry – and after’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 10, pp. 335–352. Reynolds, George F. (1907–8), ‘Trees on the stage of Shakespeare’, Modern Philology, 5, pp. 153–168. Seltzer, Daniel (ed.) (1963), Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, London: Edward Arnold. Strong, Roy (1969a), Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, London: HM Stationery Office. ——— (1969b), The English Icon, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Plays and editions Chettle, Henry and Robert Greene (1935–6), John of Bordeaux, in W.L. Renwick (ed.), Oxford: Malone Society Reprints. Ford, John (2003),’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, in Martin Wiggins (ed.), London: A & C Black. Greene, Robert (1905), The Plays and Poems of Robert Greene, 2 Vol., in J. Churton Collins (ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press. (See also Lavin and Seltzer above.) Marlowe, Christopher (1993), Doctor Faustus, in David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen (eds.), Manchester: Manchester University Press. ——— (1999), The Complete Plays of Christopher Marlowe, in M.T. Burnett (ed.), London: J.M. Dent. Marston, John (1965), The Malcontent, in Martin Wine (ed.), London: Edward Arnold. Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance . . . 181 STP-28-2-05-Savage 4/18/08 2:40 PM Page 182 Peele, George (1910), The Arraignment of Paris, in H.H. Child (ed.), Oxford: Malone Society Reprints. Shakespeare, William (1988), Complete Works, in Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press. Webster, John (1995), The Works of John Webster, in David C. Gunby et al. (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Suggested citation Savage, K. (2008), ‘Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance practice’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 28: 2, pp. 161–182, doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.161/3 Contributor details After teaching for several years, and then trying her luck as an eternal student on the way to her PhD, Kay Savage has settled in West Cornwall. At Truro College, she teaches Performance Arts and English and runs the higher education provision in Drama. E-mail: [email protected] 182 Kay Savage STP-28-2-06-Estill 4/18/08 2:41 PM Page 183 Studies in Theatre and Performance Volume 28 Number 2 © 2008 Intellect Ltd Notes and Queries. English language. doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.183/3 Aesthetic realism Robin Estill took this photograph in New York, assuming, as the Editors did when they first saw it, that it was a joke. It’s not! ‘Aesthetic Realism’ is a cult, founded by Eli Siegel, which offers its followers access to the beautiful life. If you find George Herbert’s belief that ‘Who sweeps a room, as for [God’s] laws/Makes that and the action fine’ a bit far-fetched, you should take a whiff of Aesthetic Realism. It has its headquarters in New York, but no longer publicises its capacity to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals. Having googled Aesthetic Realism (and Eli Siegel), the Editors were puzzled to find Edmund Kean embroiled. Jim Jones and Jonestown would be better suited. © Robin Estill STP 28 (2) 183–183 © Intellect Ltd 2008 183 STP-28-2-06-Estill 4/18/08 2:41 PM Page 184 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 185 Reviews Studies in Theatre and Performance Volume 28 Number 2 © 2008 Intellect Ltd Reviews. English language. doi: 10.1386/stap.28.2.185/5 The Aesthetics of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal, translated by Adrian Jackson (2006) London and New York: Routledge, 133 pp. + 10 illus., ISBN 0-415-37177-5 (pbk), £16.99 A new publication from Augusto Boal is always something of an event. Curiosity is naturally roused when a major artist produces a text promising to tell us how or why, but the Theatre of the Oppressed has instilled such powerful loyalty and admiration in those inspired by it that any pronouncements from its author are greeted with particular fervour. And The Aesthetics of the Oppressed does offer some distinctly new arguments, as well as seeking to consolidate ideas and methods Boal has developed over the last four decades. His exemplification is equally up to date: Iraq, the 2004 Tsunami and reality TV are all included within Boal’s account of how we process events local and global. The Aesthetics of the Oppressed is largely a discursive, theoretical work – although it does contain a few practical exercises – and in this it has more in common with The Theatre of the Oppressed than with later books. The book’s central argument is that the aesthetic imagination is supremely capable of envisioning an alternative ‘reality’ to that of conventional appearances and entrenched ways of perceiving; hence it is this capacity we must stimulate and expand in order to be creators of culture rather than its passive recipients. If true, this would by implication substantiate the Theatre of the Oppressed’s underlying premise: that, as ‘rehearsal for revolution’, it leaves ‘spectactors’ productively unsatisfied by the theatrical process and correspondingly eager to change their own behaviour and the ‘real’ world outside. The Aesthetics of the Oppressed outlines an intriguing model of the way human minds (and bodies) work: essentially, that the practice of creativity increases the capacity to imagine multiple possibilities, and further that the encouragement of that practice stimulates the desire to do it. Without such exercise, the communicative networks in the brain are liable to ‘harden, becom(e) opaque and compacted – turning into structures which [. . .] refuse dialogue with new circuits external to themselves, impeding the arrival of new information which conflicts with that already existing in their own classification’ (p. 28). Such limited, preprogrammed ways of comprehending the world are reinforced by globalisation, Boal argues, a phenomenon whose laws and effects he examines at length: ‘to globalise it is necessary to abolish dialogue, to isolate the STP 28 (2) 185–194 © Intellect Ltd 2008 185 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 186 individual [. . .] so that the very differences which make him unique may disappear’ (p. 60). Unlike the excessively market-driven, depersonalised art globalisation privileges, Boal’s Aesthetics of the Oppressed champions the local and individual: this includes the rediscovery of indigenous culture, as well as the requirement that we reject the clichés of ‘types’ to seek out qualities unique and special to each person. The tone of The Aesthetics of the Oppressed is familiarly that of Boal’s other writings: it is lively and energetic, theoretical and anecdotal by turns. At times it is difficult to be sure how literally Boal intends his principal argument, although one never doubts the passion behind it. Significantly, he quotes the Italian proverb ‘Si non é vero, é bene trovato! – Even if it’s not true, it makes a good story!’ (p. 27) – and at one point acknowledges his ‘poetic interpretation’ rather than scientific fact (p. 29). Yet such asides seem to conflict with the authoritative tone he adopts. For instance, a reader might blench slightly at passages like this: ‘The aesthetic neurons are those that process, jointly, ideas and emotions, memories and imagination, senses and abstractions. When these neurons are activated by new stimuli, the creation of Metaphor is activated’ (p. 26); such formulations are as likely to put off as to persuade. The Aesthetics of the Oppressed is a frustrating read in some respects. It is unclear what the book as a whole seeks to achieve, as there is no introduction (or index) and the structuring principles are not always apparent. The first half deals directly with the ‘Aesthetics of the Oppressed’, this divided into ‘Theoretical Foundation’ and ‘Practical Realisation’ – although misleadingly, in the text itself, this second section appears under the chapter heading of the first. (There are other, similar errors elsewhere that suggest that the book was not as carefully proofread as it might have been.) It is also confusing that the term ‘Aesthetics of the Oppressed’ turns out to refer both to Boal’s general argument and to a specific project currently being carried out by Brazil’s CTO-Rio, and disappointing that we are not given any contextual information about the latter. The remainder of the book is comprised of a number of essays dealing with ‘Theatre as a Martial Art’, ‘Globalisation, Culture and Art’, ‘Theatre in Prisons’ and, finally, the text of a speech Boal gave on his seventieth birthday. Some of these writings return to the theme of the Aesthetics of the Oppressed; others don’t, or not explicitly. ‘Theatre in Prisons’ is particularly engaging. Rather than an account of making theatre in prisons – interesting as that would be – the essay reflects on Boal’s experience of incarceration, the roles and relationships of prisoner and guard, freedom of action versus freedom of mind, and the possibilities theatre offers in this context. This is the kind of moment where Boal is at his best as a writer: at once personal and philosophical, witty and profound, he has the ability to pull orthodoxies apart and clear the way to allow fresh and liberating alternatives. There is plenty in this book to relish. Equally, there is much in its argument that is open to debate – would Boal want it any other way? – but this is part of its strength, he certainly gets you thinking. Reviewed by Frances Babbage, University of Leeds 186 STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 187 Harlequin Empire: Race, Ethnicity and the Drama of the Popular Enlightenment, David Worrall, (2007) London: Pickering & Chatto, 266 pp., ISBN 978-1-85196-851-0 (hbk), £60 Romantic period drama kicks off the Enlightenment World series of monographs from Pickering & Chatto in robust style in the shape of David Worrall’s enthusiastic and detailed account of the representation of nonBritish cultures on the British stage from roughly the mid-eighteenth century to around 1840. It is a subject of central importance to both an understanding of the theatre of the time and its place in the sweep of British theatrical history. The sheer volume and diversity of dramatic material portraying the ‘other’ is astonishing – as it is from the Elizabethan stage on – and Worrall wisely warns against generalisation and the tendency to read the past in terms of the present. He builds on the proselytising work he displayed in Theatric Revolution: Drama, Censorship and Romantic Period Subcultures, 1773–1832 (2006) and The Politics of Romantic Theatricality, 1787–1832: The Road to the Stage (2007) by consolidating his well-founded argument that Georgian theatre has to be seen in a twin context: that of its regulation and the vitality of the drama presented in the network of nonpatent theatres, which expanded in the face of this regulation. Worrall identifies key texts, such as Colman’s Inkle and Yarico (1787), which came to be seen as a major anti-slavery vehicle, against a backdrop of chapters on particular stage versions of Islamic India, the North African Islamic states as seen in British and American theatres, and the theatrical appropriation of Captain Cook and Pacific encounters in general, including those in and around Australia. Unfortunately, his chapter on Ira Aldridge, the first black actor of note in Britain and, therefore, a pioneering figure in the assertion of self-identity from a non-white perspective, is patchy and argued from a mistaken belief that his first English performances were at the Royal Coburg rather than the Royalty Theatre, as recent scholarship has shown. Despite this, Worrall’s underlying point about Aldridge’s significance stands. Worrall’s insistence on the primacy of performance – analysing, for example, the socio-political dimensions of the size and role of a venue, its audience-stage relationship, and the prevailing production practices and protocols – is a welcome corrective to the plethora of literary texts in this field, and opens the book to a much wider audience than simply period specialists. Given his subject and his approach, it is not surprising (but none the less refreshing) that one of the key conventions he examines is blackface. Without surrendering ground to imperial apologists, he emphasises the complexities of interpreting its meanings at such a historical distance and underlines the lack of research in this area. Worrall makes the connections between colour designation and class while underplaying the connections of both to gender, and is at his strongest in describing and STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 187 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 188 analysing individual productions and the nature of the theatres in which they were performed. Worrall’s account of the enactment of this plebeian Enlightenment places the role of the British ‘illegitimate’ stage and its theatrical forms, like burletta and pantomime, at the heart of the imperial cultural project but he argues that they were challenging as well as promoting the project’s defining ideologies. Reviewed by Colin Chambers, Kingston University The Incomparable Hester Santlow: A Dancer-Actress on the Georgian Stage, Moira Goff (2007) Aldershot: Ashgate, 180 pp. + 17 illus., ISBN 978-0-7546-5805-4 (hbk), £50 Hester Santlow left too faint a trace to allow the construction of a full-scale biography. She is best known from the portrait which used to hang in the Theatre Museum (when there was one), depicting her in a harlequin dress, her right hand raised and her left hand caressing a slapstick. The artist may have been John Ellys, and the image is said to derive from her performance as Harlequin Woman (Harlequine) in John Thurmond’s Drury Lane pantomime, The Escapes of Harlequin (1722). Any eighteenthcentury woman who allowed herself to be portrayed holding a phallic object – in this case, a clearly tumescent one – was likely to draw scandalous comment, and Santlow attracted her share of that. It would have been extraordinary if, as a dancer on the public stage, she had not. She made her Drury Lane debut in 1705/6 at the age of twelve or thirteen (Goff has persuasively challenged the earlier assumption, preserved in the new DNB, that she was born in 1690), and was an established member of the company by 1712, when pregnancy forced her into temporary retirement. The father of her illegitimate daughter was James Craggs, a diplomat and, later, a prominent Whig politician. Interestingly, the birth did no evident damage to Santlow’s career. On the contrary, it was through her daughter, fully acknowledged by Craggs, that she was carried from gentility into the fringes of the aristocracy. Goff does not elaborate on this fascinating story of social progress – her focus is, properly, on Santlow’s professional career – but it deserves to be noted. Actresses, even tainted ones, were not necessarily outlawed from Hanoverian society. If Santlow had been as profligate as green-room scandalmongers claimed, she would not have been chosen as his second wife by the well connected actor-manager Barton Booth (they married in 1719), nor accepted as a mother-in-law by the genteel Richard Eliot in 1726. (As a conjugal footnote, Eliot was thirtytwo when he married the thirteen-year-old Harriot Santlow/Craggs, who bore him the first of nine children when she was fourteen.) Having retired from the stage in 1733, Santlow herself lived long enough (she died in 188 STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 189 1773) to see her great-granddaughter – the one who married the Earl of Ely – into adulthood. Moira Goff ’s beautifully measured book is the second in the Ashgate series on ‘Performance in the Long Eighteenth Century’. Its background is important. I haven’t ever sought access to the rare books at the British Library, but Goff works with them. Not only that. She has also reconstructed and danced some of Santlow’s dances. There can’t be many curators of rare books with that kind of double life, and it is an experience which provides a unique authority to the book’s detailed descriptions of dance notation in the early eighteenth century. I should confess that the five plates recording contemporary notations – by Anthony L’Abbé, Le Roussau and Mr Isaac – are, to me, as impenetrable and as decorative as hieroglyphics, but they look appropriately purposeful. It was as a dancer that the young Hester Santlow, still advertised as a pupil of René Charrier, made her first public appearance, and her last recorded performance was in a dancing role in The Country Revels, a ‘Grotesque Entertainment’, in 1732. She probably continued into 1733, but her husband’s illness combined with the vicious disputes between Theophilus Cibber and John Highmore at Drury Lane to precipitate her retirement. Goff has done full justice to her extraordinary range, from the graceful sophistication of belle dance to the robustly comic antics of commedia dell’arte. John Weaver, whose opinions have to be taken seriously, called her ‘the most graceful, most agreeable, and most correct Performer in the World’ (p. 114). Briefly rivalled by Marie Sallé, Santlow was one of Drury Lane’s trump cards for twenty-five years – the only woman, Goff suggests, to perform a full tour en l’air, to dance a solo Harlequin and a solo ‘French Peasant’, and to risk herself in a ‘Hussars’ duet (with John Shaw). That is not, though, the whole story. From early in her career, Santlow was employed as an actress as well, initially as a comic ingénue, but graduating to witty roles and pathetic heroines in tragedy. Ophelia may have been just within her range. Uncharacteristically, James Thomson, normally the most inert of sedentary bachelor-poets, was so overwhelmed that he couldn’t even find breath for a comma: ‘Mrs Booth acts some things very well and particularly Ophelia’s madness in Hamlet inimitably but then she dances so deliciously has such melting lascivious motions airs and postures as indeed according to what you suspect almost throws the material part of me into action too’ (pp. 122–3). Scopophilia was not Thomson’s habitual mode, nor was his material part (whatever that was!) normally much in evidence. No wonder the Drury Lane managers favoured Santlow in breeches parts, even allowing her the privilege of an occasional epilogue (‘For, while you watch my Legs, you lose my Wit’, p. 27). One of the finest features of Goff ’s book is her chapter on pantomimes, those mixtures of dance, song and acting that played into Santlow’s hands during the 1720s, when rivalry between Drury Lane and Lincoln’s Inn Fields was at its height. Her descriptions bring a dancer’s insights to bear on a theatrical puzzle. STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 189 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 190 It cannot have been easy to get the tactics right in composing a book out of what must first have appeared slender material. Goff has managed to maintain her focus on Santlow without disregarding the dancers she worked with. There are brief pen-portraits of many of them: Cherrier, L’Abbé, the mysterious Mr Isaac, John Shaw, the great innovator John Weaver, John Thurmond, Michael Lally. Nor does she lose sight of the actors: Robert Wilks, Colley Cibber, George Powell, Anne Oldfield and Mary Porter, as well as Barton Booth. One of the things that emerges silently from this thoughtfully composed book is the closeness of the theatrical community in the early eighteenth century. Santlow married Booth; her dancing partner, John Shaw, married Wilks’s step-daughter; before her marriage Santlow lived with her mother opposite the coffee house opened by the singer, Richard Leveridge, in Tavistock Street; the Booths lived next door to Colley Cibber in 1721; their country house and estate, Cowley Grove, was sold to John Rich. It was still within the theatrical community, though variegated by her daughter’s wealthy relations, that Santlow lived out her forty years of dignified retirement. Reviewed by Peter Thomson, University of Exeter Opera From the Greek: Studies in the Poetics of Appropriation, Michael Ewans, (2007) Aldershot: Ashgate, vii + 216 pp., ISBN 978-0-7546-6099-6 (hbk), £55 Most of us would have a dim sense that European opera has an intimate connection to ancient Greek tragedy, but would be hard pressed to state what precisely it was. In fact, the curious feature of the relationship is not that opera came into being as an attempt to recreate Greek tragedy in the Italian renaissance, but that it has repeatedly revisited a sense of Greek tragic form over the centuries, far more regularly and with greater conviction than European drama. So it is that while, on the one hand, Wagner is associated in our minds with Teutonic myth-making and the assertion of a national art-form, scholars have been at pains to trace an inescapable connection with Hellenism and Greek tragedy in The Ring of the Nibelung. Ewans was indeed one of those scholars, and his early work was primarily on opera, with both Wagner and Janacek as the subjects of monographs. But his profile in recent decades has been clearly in the study and production of ancient Greek tragedy, as a translator and director, and one who has energetically pursued research through practice on ancient Greek performance. In this book, he turns his expertise in Greek tragedy back towards European opera, selecting eight operas from the Italian renaissance forwards to the 1980s for an analysis of their relationship to Greek sources. These sources include not only tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides, but also the two surviving early Greek (Homeric) epics, Iliad and 190 STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 191 Odyssey. The principal subject is inevitably that of reworking, of the strategies taken to create a new artwork from the old text, and the format of each chapter gives a correspondingly major emphasis to issues of dramaturgy. But the book and each chapter in turn also contain musicological analysis, conducted through scored examples, of the interpretations finally lent to the adaptation by the composer, to give that complex process and achievement its simplest description. The result is a very even treatment of disparate works through exploiting their chosen relationship to an original source, not just in the structure of the book but also in the analytical and descriptive language that Ewans deploys. We are, in other words, given a discourse that the author keeps stable throughout, resisting the temptation to mark originality and difference by the flamboyance of vocabulary, and so maintaining an approach that permits a consistent research purpose. Ewans is at pains to provide clear accounts of the dramatic action of the originals, and to clear away obstructive but prevalent misconceptions where necessary. This he does mostly by clarifying the meaning of key Greek concepts, but also by removing the aura that can surround a play almost entirely. So he carefully argues against the idea of determinism on a number of occasions, puncturing the appeal that words such as ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ may have for the careless reception of both Greek tragedy (e.g. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King) and epic. These preambles are supported by reference to a good range of classical scholarship, and lead in each chapter to studies of the actualities and principles of reworking adopted by the librettist. Gradually we are then led into discussions of the substantiation of the libretto in music by the composer. This in itself is not only very often a secondary or selective reworking of the ‘appopriation’, which may reveal conflicts between librettist and composer, but it is also a process in which an idiom is conceived that lifts the original source beyond semantics and invests it with the belief-system of the composer. That, at least, is a large part of Ewans’s contention – that composers reveal in their musical appropriations a kind of bias in what they wish the ‘Greekness’ of their opera to convey. In that respect, one of the more consistent themes of the book is the wrestling that goes on between varieties of Christian convictions, tenets, or value-systems and the pagan qualities of the original sources, the ideas and configurations of feeling and expectation that are embedded in even the forms of epic and tragedy. Indeed, a different construction of this book might have made that the thesis. But Ewans is also concerned with the issue of successful transformation, the representation within later European culture of the alarming but compelling excitement of tragedy at work. So in a number of chapters this theme predominates, as librettists and composers may discount or dispense with prevalent assumptions and get a grip on the actual qualities of the original. In fact, Ewans is unusually clear about what he is after in each case in the short but highly effective, final sub-section of the Introduction called ‘The poetics of appropriation’. STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 191 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 192 The composers and operas studied (with the sources here in brackets) in the order they appear in the book are Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (the Homeric Odyssey); Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (the tragedy by Euripides); Cherubini’s Médée (Euripides); Strauss’s Elektra (Sophocles); Enesco’s Oedipe (tragedies by Sophocles); Tippett’s King Priam (the Homeric Iliad); Henze’s The Bassarids (Euripides’ Bacchae); and Turnage’s Greek (Sophocles’ Oedipus the King). Ashgate’s production values are high, although there are one or two minor typos and proofreading blemishes, notably ‘Biliography’ for ‘Bibliography’ (p. 203), which is an interesting coinage that suggests a genre of certain kinds of reviewing instead of the helpful lists of recommended recordings, published scores, and secondary reading on Greek tragedy, epic and culture as well as on the composers and the operas. Overall, the book is eminently readable without any attempt to simplify what is complex, and rightly requires for full satisfaction some musical education, not merely in reading short sections of scores but also in following musical and musicological terms. Yet it has been wisely guided away from being locked into exclusively musical studies, and so makes a contribution to our sense of European theatre and what is increasingly (but misleadingly) being called classical reception, which is more readily understood as the classical tradition in European culture. There is a surge in interest in this broad field, with some excellent studies in English (and notably on the English theatre) coming from scholars such as Edith Hall, under the auspices of the Archive of Greek and Roman Performances based in Oxford. Ewans gives us close attention to dramaturgy in opera, while other studies may concentrate on the theatrical climate and production circumstances. Both are, in the broad picture, lively elements of performance history. Reviewed by Graham Ley, University of Exeter Intermediality in Theatre and Performance, Freda Chapple and Chiel Kattenbelt, (2006) Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 266 pp. + 53 illus., ISBN: 90-420-1629-9 (pbk), $68 It is this book’s stated intention to examine what is intermediality in theatre and performance and it does so very successfully, combining well-formed theoretical analysis with a wide range of examples. The book is a collaboration between members of Theatre and Intermediality Research Working Group in the IFTR and its particular strength is the resulting coherence of argument across collected essays. It is an original contribution to the field of performance research with an argument that breaks away from the assumption that intermediality or multimedia performance must necessarily include some form of digital technology. Although the inclusion of digital and screen media in theatre performance is a constituent element of intermediality, the concept is broadened to mean a territory constituted 192 STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 193 by the intermedial modes of perception across the arts, opening up a useful examination of theatre as a medial and hypermedial form. The book is split into three sections with each framed by a chapter providing a theoretical underpinning for analysis in the first two sections and a historical overview in the third. In the first section, entitled ‘Performing Intermediality’, its contributors examine how intermediality is staged in the theatre, locating it in the process of remediation and in-between the multiple media performed on a theatre stage. Kattenbelt provides a strong introduction to this section, arguing that theatre is a hypermedium capable of staging other media and making visible their apparatus. The chapters that follow move forward from this point to examine the actor as a site of intermedial expression shifting between stage and early cinema (Remshardt); to examine simultaneity, immediacy and hypermediacy in mixed-media theatre (Lavender); representations of time in intermedial performance (Merx); and digital opera as intermedial stage for education (Chapple). Lavender’s chapter develops the argument particularly well, providing excellent case studies to support his emphasis on the mutual dependency of immediacy and hypermediacy on the intermedial stage. Section two, ‘Intermedial Perceptions’ goes on to argue a conception of intermediality as performative territory on which multiple perceptual frameworks play out their conflicts, collisions and disruptions to transparent and unified expression. This emphasis on the perceptual in the analysis is absolutely key to the assertion that the intermedial functions outside the mediatised versus live performance debate. It allows the authors to address the influence of screen media and new technology upon perceptual frameworks, and also examine non-digital media as constituents of that ‘matrix’ (Wagner, p. 125). This is, in my view, the strongest aspect of their argument. Peter Boenisch’s chapter, introducing the section, provides an excellent theoretical underpinning, well grounded in discourses of media theory, theatre and philosophy, and the subsequent chapters draw on his analysis and refer back to it, giving the reader a strong sense of coherent argument throughout this section. Balme looks at ‘spatial metonymy’ (p. 123) as creating perceptual intermediality where material and fictional space collide. Both Wagner and Boenisch go on to examine corporeal mediality: the fracturing of corporeal frameworks through the puppet body and the disruption of corporeal codes of representation, respectively. Nelson in contrast, examines the small screen in relation to spectator shifts between immediacy and hypermediacy as modes of perception. Each of these chapters not only provides a convincing account as a discrete argument, but also weaves into the overall threads running through the book and the section. The final section, ‘From Adaptation to Intermediality’ attempts to move chronologically through various discourses of adaptation and intermediality and the first chapter by Kuchenbach does this successfully, presenting a clear overview of twentieth century approaches to adaptation then remediation between film and theatre. However, it seems very much a break STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 193 STP-28-2-07-Reviews 4/18/08 2:42 PM Page 194 from the approach set up in the first two parts of the book. The chapters that follow go on to present snapshots from across the century. Klemens Gruber explores the staging of writing in early twentieth century art. Callens examines Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire as an example of a ‘theatrical framing’ and thus remediation of Murnau’s Nosferatu (p. 203), and finally, the last two chapters go on to explore intermediality in the construction of hypertextual theatre experience made up of adapted or reinterpreted fragments of classic texts. Hadassi Shani’s chapter on Me-Dea-Ex was the highlight of this section for me, presenting a fascinating analysis of how a modular structure is not only able to generate an intermedial performance but also combine fragments of different cultures. Overall, however, this third section did not have quite the coherence of the first two. Although the chapters echoed and reflected back across themes running throughout the book – intermediality in remediation, hypermediality and modularity – they did not have an overall argument underpinning the examples across the section or as clear a relationship between themselves as in the first and second sections. Nevertheless, the overall structuring devices in the book are excellent, providing an unusual level of coherence in a collection of this kind. Partly, this is because there are clear arguments running through the book, but partly this is due to the clear signposting of how these threads are being developed. Abstracts are provided for each section and chapter, and Chapple and Kattenbelt’s introduction outlines the key themes of the book in relation to established discourses in media theory. Intermediality in Theatre Performance presents an engaging analysis of intermediality as the territory ‘in-between realities’ (p. 11) and draws its reader to reconsider mediality and intermediality in relation to perceptual experience of theatre performance. Reviewed by Kate Adams, University of Hull 194 STP 28 (2) Reviews © Intellect Ltd 2008 Volume 28 Number 2 – 2008 Articles 91–110 Brecht and the disembodied actor Roy Connolly and Richard Ralley 111–126 Following the dream/passing the meme: Shakespeare in ‘translation’ Mike Ingham 127–145 Technique in exile: The changing perception of taijiquan, from Ming dynasty military exercise to twentieth-century actor training protocol Daniel Mroz 147–159 ‘Your sincere friend and humble servant’: Evidence of managerial aspirations in Susannah Cibber’s letters Helen Brooks Notes and Queries 161–182 Stage directions: Valuable clues in the exploration of Elizabethan performance practice Kay Savage 183 Aesthetic realism ISSN 1468-2761 28.2 Studies in Volume Twenty Eight Number Two Theatre & Performance Studies in Theatre & Performance | Volume Twenty Eight Number Two Studies in Theatre & Performance Reviews 185–194 Reviews by Frances Babbage, Colin Chambers, Peter Thomson, Graham Ley and Kate Adams intellect 9 771468 276009 28 intellect Journals | Theatre & Performance ISSN 1468-2761