Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Philosophy and Theatre- Section 14-1- Morgan Farmer- Post 3

Now that I've discussed how philosophy relates to the theatre actor, director, designer, and writer, I want to talk about performance philosophy and  a little bit more about some philosophers and their relation to theatrical philosophy .
Performance Philosophy is an interdisciplinary field of study that is focused on the relationship between performance and philosophy. It is independent the two disciplines individually but combines them to create a whole new field of study.The aim of this discipline is  to mark out an area of concentration that can be distinguished from studies of performance art, as well as from the focus on the performance ,within philosophy, but which would link the two and even take seriously the possibility that performance is a kind of philosophy, and philosophy is a kind of performance. As my previous posts have alluded to, this overlap is an inevitable side effect of theatre's evolution from a presentation of a 2- dimensional story, to a representation of real human life an problems. This field is an old idea taking on a new name, but is experiencing a great amount of growth in recent years. Performers also often live by certain personal philosophies. The following link will take you to an interesting list of theatre rituals/ or personal philosophies that are really helpful to a lot of performers.

Some of those old ideas come from the ancient Greeks, like  Aristotle who dabbled in play writing,m although his plays have not survived and was an important theatre theorist and critic. He was one of the first to explain tragedy and catharsis to audiences and also created the 6 elements of theatre which are explained very well in this neat little theatre history presentation..

Some ancient Greek philosophers better developed their work through immersion in theatre, like Plato, who wrote his Dialogues in a manner that is said to be similar to the theatrical writings of the time, suggesting that Plato took influence from his playwright peers.

A bit later in history we have Voltaire, who like many playwrights, used his plays as a vehicle to express his personal philosophies in a different way with less controversy and more exposure. His play  Candide  was a criticism of the optimists( especially Leibniz)  of his day and of extravagant life. He also wrote his own adaptation of Oedipus that attempted to rationalize the characters actions and made the incestuous theme less pronounced, possibly due to rumors of incest in his own family( he was said to have married his own daughter).

Although some earlier philosophers were involved in theatre and theatre people were involved in philosophy,( the two have just always been intertwined and always will be), the turn of the 19th century brought about the largest turn towards the philosophical history has yet seen. Many philosophers were questioning truth, reality, and the meaning of life, and plays were a good way to get their message across to the world.

 Many philosophers were involved in the theatre world very directly, like philosopher/playwright Jean Paul Sartre, who wrote the critically acclaimed play No Exit about seeing oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness.    

Nietzsche and Kierkegaard  were interested in the philosophy of performance movement, and wanted to create a style of " acting in philosophy"  They believed that this new discipline created the theatre for the future. I also agree that a more philosophical approach to theatre is necessary and if combined they will create more viable and honest art.

1 comment:

  1. Your posts have helped me understand one of our Lyceum speakers this past semester, Richard Shusterman. Check out his "performances" on YouTube.

    Nietzsche's heavy emphasis on "masks" must also have been informed by his interest in theater and performance.

    Interesting topic!