I want to say something about the performance’s dramaturgy – or as Merete Grimeland so well calls it – how to create a experience design. The project aims to give the show a sense of social experience, as well as being distanced through the use of alienating elements. Now one could believe that Brecht would be the natural one to mention here, but as traditional storytelling is main medium, it has an opposite effect, illusions are used to create and underline the dreaming away.
Those who know me also know my addiction for Joseph Campbell and my paraphrasing of “hero with 1000 faces”. The structure is that you leave home on a trip and come home with new insights. So far this has been a dramatic draft outline for the project:
As mentioned earlier, in Norwegian here, Schechner writes in the article “Performers and Spectators Transported and transformed” about three different angles on a performance, there are three different traditions that affect the practitioner’s work and meeting with the audience. First, he operates with the terms “transport” and “transform” one or both terms are always present in a performance, « I call performances where performers are changed ‘transformations’ and those where performers are returned to their starting places ‘transportations.’ ‘Transportation’ because during the performance the performers are ‘taken somewhere’ but at the end, often assisted by others, they are ‘cooled down’ and reenter ordinary life just about where they went in.»
Now, it’s quite easy to get hold of these concepts, as Schechner writes often based on the rituals. But to simplify it, most Western theaters are performances with an emphasis on “transported” because the performer plays a character and do things that are only possible in the performance, but always returns to his normal life after a performance, they go back to where they started. In principle, would a storytelling performance not have an element of “transported” because the storyteller is always him or herself. But the storyteller brings a performance from one world to another world, and thus the element is there. Something else that we often forget is the “cooling down” period. We are good to warm us up before a performance, but usually we have no cooling off period after the show.
In the case of “transformation” this is about changing the performer such as changing the status, this change will remain afterwards the performance. And in our context, this phase is seen as the “how to become a storyteller”. It is one that has a certain status in a given situation. In a traditional situation, it is clear who is the storyteller and who is listening when told. But if both are operating simultaneously, meaning that the narrator is listening within a given and defined period, it is not an element of “transformation” there.
Yet if we look at the concepts regardless of what Schechner put in them, I would argue that transport and transformation are important elements when it comes to traditional storytelling. A story has change as ”main food” and transport is an epic move.
Our traditional dramaturgy with roots in classical greek period is an aesthetic that is based on competition. So in the traditional theatre dramaturgy are build in relation to “who is the best principle” (who is the best poet, who is the best actor) and the community has a “judicial” role: «Critics must and spectators often do, rank performances in relation to other performances, even separating out within a given performance the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’.»
The aesthetics need not be built up on that principle, according to Schechner. He refers to the fifth Vedas as some storytellers already know, or the principle of rasa. A performance can be composed by image of sharing a meal. Each element is composed with the intention to create participation by all parties. The performer stands out as one that “prepares” and the listener is a participant: «A successful performance is one where both the levels of skill (preparers) and understanding (partakers) are high and equal. If the partaker expects more than the preparer can deliver, the performance is inadequate; if the preparer does more than the partaker can savor, the performance is wasted.»
Schechner mentions a third approach based on the Japanese theater form “Noh.”Here the performance is a kind of meeting place, with a close relationship between the performer and the spectator: «So close and immediate is the relationship between the performers and the spectators that if the audience is noisy the costumes are changed at last minute». The costumes are changed to appease the public. The public is familiar with the form, they must recognize the importance of what happens, otherwise, it does not make sense. All three forms can form a base for making the performance.
The sim ”The Companion” in Second life follows a traditional almost Aristotelian like structure, the story is marked by an actual path visitors can follow to follow the story. The one thing this storytelling situation can not controll is the temporality, it is like reading a book. The visitor is free to discontinue the story when it suits them, repeating parts of the path, start again and so on. This experience illustrates a thought pattern that occurs when you are listening to a story. We do not listen in a linear form, we have associations that can take us far away from the story. Such leaps can can also nurture transitions as an interesting principle.
Just before Easter I got a video camera and soon appeared a storytelling situation that is a gift in this context. This is my sister who tries to tell about a superstitious situation. It shows a very traditional informal telling situation:
As mentioned, this is a traditional informal storytelling situation that may provide keys to a dramaturgy. You have factors such as:
Repeat – my sister have to repeat the context for us so we can understand the premise of the story.
Interruptions – we as listeners need to study that we actually understand what is being told.
Comments – we as listeners want to own and give our views on the story.
What I like best is the abrupt ending, a huge leap into something really different. Something that is not common in a formal storytelling situation.
All in all, there are elements here that we will activate in the performance.
Schechner, R. (1981) Performers and Spectators transported and transformed. The Kenyon Review, New Series, Vol 3, No. 4 (Autumn, 1981), pp. 83-113 Published by: Kenyon College