A Resource for Performing Artists, Scholars and Audiences.
I'll go first with something broad to get us going.
Were you surprised by anything in the book? Was there a topic or group in the book that was discussed that you had not heard of or found interesting?
ok, admittedly i'm only just thru chapter 3 (performative architectures), so i don't doubt there are further surprises in store, but in the interest of kicking things off there have been two eye-opening concepts for me thus far.
and prefacing it, i must say i'm REALLY enjoying this book. it's a long-overdue history/analysis of the increasingly (always?) essential role technology has played/plays in performance practices. i find that in many live performance/theatre circles technology tends to get get a bad rap, that it is somehow inauthentic, cheating, unfair or a cop or less pure. which leads me to my first surprising moment.
in chapter 2 (space 2: media scenographies - performance in the realm of the technical image - p. 56), before going on to describe the experiments of robert wilson and richard foreman, salter discusses the "backlash" that arose in the 60s/70s from the avant-garde as a reaction to proliferating technological saturation. the standard-bearers for this branch were grotowski, peter brook, schechner's performance group, odin teatret, the open theater and the living theater. these are all theatre artists and company that i admire deeply but i hadn't until now considered them all in the context of rejecting the advances of the modern world. this is, however, an instructive perspective.
these artists all took the performing body (and its interactions) as a starting point. one can almost imagine these performances taking place in medieval england, golden age athens or prehistoric caves dwellings. in many ways, their techniques can live outside of the technological age. this is certainly in keeping with 60s-era organic trends. much of the history of this era focuses on these artists as personifying the zeitgeist. but salter seeks to tell a parallel story of the artists that were furthering all those aspects of performance that the "organic" practitioners were rejecting. i appreciate that. the performer him/herself has been pretty absent up to this point but i expect there will be a focus put on them in the "bodies" chapter.
i also LOVE how he identifies artaud as an inspiration to nearly all these aforementioned theatre makers and then is quick to point out that artaud also envisioned technology in aid of his theatre of cruelty realizations (i'm reminded particularly of his surround sound bells for les cenci). as ever, artaud provides a wide spectrum of inspiration for artists of all stripes.
secondly, i've been devouring the section on the contributions of architects (chapter 3 - performative architectures). this is a history i know so little about and is such an integral part of the picture. as a theatre artist, i have some amount of training in areas like scenography, lighting, even digital media. but i don't have even the barest introduction to this discipline. as such, the artists and their experiments are new to me and fascinating. i'm eager to learn more about this practice and how it contributes (or can contribute in the future) to what theatre artists do.
so these points have struck me so far. i'm doing my best to get thru it but it's a pretty dense tome with a lot to absorb. but i wouldn't mind having some convos even as we're all going along.
great choice for the first edition!
I have to be honest and say that I haven't had break in my schedule to even begin the book. But it is a good choice and Adrian's comment makes me want to at least get started. I was wondering if we could maybe make a reading schedule - and that might at least give us some targets to hit and then we can begin discussing. I'm happy to help with that, if needed. Just a thought. The book club is such a great idea and I want to see it succeed.
Thats a great idea. I am too fighting upstream in a scheduling flow....
I am surprised by... how much I could love and hate a book at the same time. Maybe I was hoping you'd chose this book just so I could vent, so apologies in advance for this. I'm about 2/3's through the book, but it's getting harder and harder to get through this last chunk. Not to go all scat', lol, but I've started keeping a book or 2 in my bathroom, reading a bit at a time, and I've now knocked several out. Well, it seems like I've been trying to finish this one forever. I've actually moved on to Rilke's Letters to a Poet just for a change of voice.
I think Entangled could be a very important book for capturing something rarely captured at this particular time. Then again, with the incredible rate of tech' change, it could need a Volume 2 sooner than most chronicles. I love that it's so comprehensive to this point in time though - the writer really did all the research for us. And it seems so relevant that it makes me push to finish it. I'm so interested in the topic's history that it maintains my interest as it jags from discipline to discipline.
But... I find the way it's written so incredibly frustrating. It's so thick, and not in a number of pages way, but that too. I don't mind big words, nor the artspeak, but I do not think that the structure of its communication needed to be so complicated. The story may be detailed, but it doesn't need to be convoluted. Like I tell my actors - just talk to me. The writer has impressed me so much with his knowledge that he doesn't need to impress me with his intellect. It's a big topic, but I think it could have been conveyed with far fewer words. So maybe I'm just saying that I found it a little overwritten.
I will go back to hacking away at this thing, soon. Everyone should know this stuff is there even if they don't hit it word for word. I'm very grateful to the author for getting this all down in print, but I'm not happy with him for getting me hooked on his book. lol!
Thanks. I feel better now. Ha!