The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0899. Monday, 8 September 1997.
Date: Friday, 05 Sep 1997 13:24:33 +0100
Subject: Call for Papers: ISSEI
At the Sixth Conference of the International Society for the Study of
European Ideas (ISSEI), to be held at Haifa University, Israel, 16 - 21
August 1998, I will be offering two workshops.
Colleagues wishing to present a paper in one (or both) of them should
send a one-page abstract to me by January 1, 1998
Theatre and Consciousness: The Psychology of Performance.
Despite current emphasis on the importance of the body for theatre
performance, consciousness, although more elusive and intangible, is at
least as important for any performance to take place and be successful.
The actor's presence is at the centre of Eugenio Barba's theatre
anthropology, referring to the third organ of the body of the theatre as
"the irrational and secret temperature which renders our actions
incandescent". It is "our personal destiny. If we don't have it, no one
can teach it to us". Barba's description suggests an altered,
non-ordinary state of consciousness, which is an appropriate concept to
describe Grotowski's concept of translumination, in which the mind-body
split is overcome. On more traditional levels of understanding is the
issue of the actor's emotional involvement with the feelings the
character is supposed to be experiencing. Diderot suggested that the
actor should maintain a distance from those emotions, should not get
involved, should keenly observe behaviour and reproduce its outward
manifestations on stage during performance. Stanislavsky, on the other
hand, clearly advocates the actor's emotional involvement, but requires
the actor to simultaneously watch over those emotions. A kind of dual
consciousness is thus at the centre of Stanislavsky's ideas. The ancient
Indian treatise on drama and theatre, the Natyashastra appears to be
contradictory on the issue of the actor's emotional involvement: in one
passage it first states that the actor needs full concentration,
suggesting involvement, and a few lines later advises that the actor
playing an angry character should not be angry him/herself, or that an
actor playing a character who has to weep should not feel sad
him/herself. The way we understand consciousness as such will be
essential to the understanding of the relationship between theatre and
These are only a few issues the workshop could raise. Topics are not
limited to traditional theatre: contributions from music, dance and
performance art are also strongly invited.
Privileged Moments in European Literature
Not limited to drama, but extending to prose fiction and poetry, this
workshop focuses on experiences of altered states of consciousness, peak
experiences, mystic experiences or privileged moments in European
literature. Are they expressions of wishful thinking, are they metaphors
for something else,, which we have to discover in the reading process.
If they can be argued to have a literal truth-value or near
truth-value, as Malekin and Yarrow have recently suggested (Peter
Malekin and Ralph Yarrow, *Consciousness, Literature and Theatre. Theory
and Beyond*, Basingstoke/New York: MacMillan/St. Martin's Press, 1997),
this has important implications for literary criticism!
Dr. Daniel Meyer-Dinkgrafe
Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies
University of Wales Aberystwyth
1 Laura Place, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 2AU, UK