Generating Theatre Meaning: A Theory and Methodology of Performance Analysis

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Sussex Academic Press, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 292 pages
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Generating Theatre Meaning offers a theory and methodology of performance analysis as an alternative to traditional play analysis. The underlying theme is that theatre performance is a descriptive text generated by the theatre medium, and that the process of generating meaning takes place in the actual encounter between a theatre performance and the spectator. Many new understandings result, including how the theatre medium is iconic in the new sense of operating images of real or mental models, and how this impacts on the verbal text and stage metaphor; how poetic principles structure fictional worlds and bestow unity and wholeness on performance-texts; how a dialogue between the implied director and the implied spectator is inscribed in the performance-text; and how the implied spectator is characterized by functions of framing, reading, interpreting, and experiencing a performance-text. It follows that actors' bodies on stage fulfill functions of textuality, metatheatricality, personification, characterization, and aesthetic effect. The introduction of the book surveys major contributions made to a methodology of performance analysis, particularly throughout the 20th century. Part I is devoted to the semiotic substratum of the performance text, i.e. to the theatre medium and its basic means of generating theatre texts and meaning. The innovation of this approach lies in seeing theatre first and foremost as a nonverbal medium. Part II deals with the poetic structure of fictional worlds described by the theatre medium and the metaphoric and rhetoric structures that operate on the level of relationship between the description of such a world and the world of a spectator. Part III contains analyses of actual performance texts that illustrate the application of principles previously presented. This is the first comprehensive book to address the necessity of a methodology of performance analysis and take issue with criticism of traditional theatre semiotics.

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About the author (2008)

Eli Rozik is professor emeritus of theatre studies at Tel Aviv University where he was twice head of the department of theater studies and the dean of the faculty. He is the author of Fictional Thinking, The Language of Theatre, Metaphoric Thinking, and The Roots of Theatre.

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