Theatre Enters! The Play within the Play as a Means of Disruption
Doctoral Thesis, University of Arts Helsinki, Finland
This artistic research analyses a specific dramaturgical phenomenon defined as “the play within the play”, which introduces a second story inside the main drama. Traditionally the play within the play has been understood as a paradigm of theatrum mundi (17th century) and of postmodern self-reflexivity (20th century).
Starting from this recognition the research questions how the “nature” of this device has changed so drastically, and explores if it is possible to point out continuity in this device throughout the different historical periods. Probably something more crucial and therefore more compromising is at stake when this device is applied, in the act of re-telling a story, of being redundant, of placing actors behaving like spectators in front of the audience. For when an inside play begins, it is not simply new characters that enter the stage presenting another story, but it is theatre itself that enters!
This research offers a different reading of the play within the play by referring to Samuel Weber’s deconstructivist approach to theatre drama, George Forestier’s formalistic analysis of the play with the play, Denis Guénoun’s political interpretation of theatre and Luigi Pirandello’s work, and comparing these theoretical examinations with two practical works focusing on this device. It explores a political interpretation of this device and suggests that the play within the play can be a tool that intrudes into the authoritarian discourse from within the authoritarian discourse. It is therefore a means that disrupts power playfully, from within.
In addition to the content of the research, the text also proposes a stimulating insight: that in fact the artistic research is not something happening outside this text, in a rehearsal room or in a studio. This thesis is not a silent witness to the process, on the contrary, it is part of the process; it has ignited the whole work. Chapter after chapter it is possible to notice the concretization of an intuition into a rousing concept: a theoretical question leading to practical work, which in return opened a new horizon and thus led to a new question. Therefore the thesis can also be read not so much as a report of an artistic research but as the becoming of an artistic research.
Theatre Academy of Finland, Swedish Department of Acting, Master Thesis
Davide Giovanzana 2006 This essay is organized around two themes: the actor relating him/herself to illusion and the emerging of illusion. Even though the two concepts are intertwined, chapters 1 to 4 examine the first theme and chapter 5 the second theme. Two questions are at the heart of the essay: can the actor master the illusion, and where does the illusion happen? On the stage? Or in the head of the spectators? We will see that the issue gravitates around the body, because illusion is a phenomenon that, by its own nature, is evanescent and immaterial, whereas the actor has a physical body. The key question is then what to do with the body.
Kalevala dell’Arte: performing the invisible bridges
theatre, shamanism, ritual of renewal, masks, oral culture
The text presents and analyzes the similarities and differences between the Italian theatrical style, the Commedia dell’Arte with the Finnish epos, the Kalevala. It emphasizes the anthropological background of both sources and points out that despite the geographical distance and the apparent lack of contact, a continuity could be found. The presence of invisible bridges therefore permitted and justified the combination of these two “languages”: the Finnish epos with the Italian drama. At first the article explores the ritualistic origin of the Commedia dell’Arte and then links it with the healing session of the Finnish tietäjä. In the second part the essay focuses on the language and compares the different types of languages employed in the Commedia dell’Arte and in the Kalevala.