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JournalISSN: 0810-4123

Australasian Drama Studies 

About: Australasian Drama Studies is an academic journal. The journal publishes majorly in the area(s): Drama & Performing arts. It has an ISSN identifier of 0810-4123. Over the lifetime, 276 publications have been published receiving 1108 citations.

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Journal Article
TL;DR: The Aesthetics of the Oppressed (TO) tradition has been studied extensively in the last thirty years by Boal and others as discussed by the authors, with a focus on the development of various strands of TO techniques.
Abstract: Augusto Boal, The Aesthetics of the Oppressed (London and New York: Routledge, 2006) Aside from being, arguably, one of the most important theatre theorists and practitioners of the last fifty years, Augusto Boal is also a master storyteller. As Paul Dwyer (2004) contends in a New Theatre Quarterly commentary on the Origin' story of Forum Theatre, Boal has long had a marvellous propensity for invoking the poetic realms, through narratives and anecdotes, to address the problematic space between practice and theory. In this way, the central paradigms of the tradition we recognise as 'Theatre of the Oppressed' have been articulated, established and debated. In his latest book. The Aesthetics of the Oppressed, Boal reflects upon more than thirty years of practising and theorising the Theatre of the Oppressed (TO). From a story about a 2002 workshop in Middle England, he weaves a brief story of the development of various strands of TO techniques, using the metaphor of a tree and genealogy to visually articulate the growth of this tradition. This is followed by a series of essays under the title of ¢ Theoretical Foundation'. Borrowing notions from semiotics, linguistics and cognitive neuroscience, Boal constructs an aesthetic rationale for the practice of TO, principally by presenting an argument for its necessity. This argument is based on the notion that human perception occurs on three different levels. The simplest mode is thought of as 'information - the receptive level'; a second mode is described as 'knowledge and tactical decision-making - the more active level' which causes basic forms of categorisations and actions; the third mode is referred to as 'ethical consciousness - the human level' by which complex categorisations, meaning-making and valuations can be said to occur (34-6). Boal argues that the practice of TO can promote the development of these perceptual modes or capacities in individual participants, by providing opportunities by which to critique structures or values, as well as by providing experiences and models for processing that can serve as an 'apprenticeship for citizenship' (37). For Boal, TO achieves this through the way it approaches the four fundamental elements that are identified in the 'tree' as the roots and the immediate earth from which it grows. These elements are referred to as the Word, the Image, the Sound, and the Ethics. The Word is concerned with written text, with suggestions of narratives of interest, identity and poetry as starting points in working with participants. In the first three of these elements, Boal revisits the principles of games and exercises described in his earlier books, with a view towards developing the aesthetic rationale of TO in employing these approaches. Here the poetic nature of this rationale is further revealed. For example, in articulating the element of the Image, he declares: We must develop our capacity not only to hear but also to see. The creation of images produced by ourselves rather than by nature or a machine, serves to show that the world can be re-created. The creation of Images of the world as we want it to be, is the best way to penetrate the future. (46) Boal makes a claim for TO as 'an ethical theatre' and a Humanist project in which 'nothing can be done unless we know why and for whom it is being done' (50). Here the problem ofpoesis as a 'theoretical foundation' gets foregrounded. These essays, and the book in general I believe, read more effectively as a manifesto, in the traditions of Artaud and Grotowski, than they do as articulations of an aesthetic theory. Rather than downplaying its importance, reading it as a manifesto seems more appropriate, as the ultimate justification for this text is arguably its impact upon a practical and an experiential tradition. Arguably as well, Boal has written stories, manifestoes and descriptions of workshops throughout his career, in the tradition of Stanislavski's writings. …

95 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: Giannachi as discussed by the authors argues that the virtual is a form of remediation, it is both 'about media' and an extension of mediated forms and functions by being ontologically intermedial and metamedial.
Abstract: Gabriella Giannachi, Virtual Theatres: An Introduction (London & New York: Routledge, 2004) In 2003 at the Performance Studies International conference, news was just to hand that the US Federal government had seized property and subpoenaed Steve Kurtz, one of the members of the Critical Arts Ensemble. After the sudden death of his wife, Kurtz's work as a bioartist had come under scrutiny and was regarded as a threat to government and corporate interests. His art practice mimics, experiments with and comments upon the manipulation of biogenctic materials that has become part of the privatised and corporatised sphere of scientific research. This case, in its extreme legal and political form, exemplifies the thesis of Gabriella Giannachi's succinct study of Virtual Theatres that the virtual inflects the real, and is intextricably close to the real, even being mistaken for the real. But the virtual also transforms and intensifies the effects of the real, so that it enables the viewer to see from within how the production of the real is taking place. This intimacy of the virtual with the real raises, as she points out, ethical and political questions but it also does so in the realm of art, through a remaking of aesthetic possibilities. In the introduction Giannachi establishes some key characteristics of the virtual, as they have been theorised during the last thirty years or more. Her central claim is that the virtual is a form of remediation, it is both 'about media' and an extension of mediated forms and functions by being ontologically intermedial and metamedial. While more conventional theatrical frames and realities position the viewer outside the production of illusion, the virtual requires the viewer to enter the simulated reality space, to become immersed in the production of both its meaning and form. In this sense, it is always a performance, subject to both disappearance (as Phelan defines the performative) and to its appearance (its repetitive production as a beginning for new events or interactions). The viewer as participant may interact with a screen, through a series of relatively limited modes of connection, or other machinic extensions that serve as prosthetics of the human body and, in reverse, the human becomes a prosthetics of the machine, a source of data or simulated movement. The ways in which the extended body becomes merged with the interface of the virtual provides the site of play for many of the works discussed. Once the performer-viewer is hooked up or inside the virtual, then they find themselves in newly fashioned environments through the telepresence of the internet or live-streaming, or in a virtual space in which simulated avatars and simulated environments interact. In the remediated world of virtual reality, according to Giannachi, there is a merging of the information society, the world that receives and processes messages from new technologies, and the world of flesh and blood, that is what remains of organic reality. Virtual theatres render visible the differences between the virtual and the real without asserting however, unless you believe Baudrillard literally, that one has replaced the other. But they cannot be separated since the real is already itself recreated and remediated by the virtual. For the relative initiate to this field, Virtual Theatres provides invaluable definitions for the new and essential lexicon of MUDS and MOOs, holopoelry, genart, telematics, knowbotics, QTVR, cyberpunk etc. etc. Moreover each chapter provides a detailed discussion of the layers through which virtual theatre might be approached: hypertextualities, cyborg theatre, the (re)crealion of nature, performing through the hypersurfacc and the aesthetic domain of VR. Key theorists, such as Baudillard, Virilio, Hayles, Haraway, Benedict, Cavallaro, Deleuze, are stitched into the discussion at the beginning of each chapter without making them the focus. In this field there is however a fascinating symbiosis between those that produce theory and those that write about their own work, in much of the literature the artist leads the theorist and produces the discourse. …

42 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: Tait as discussed by the authors argues that the aerial body's complex combination of artistry and athleticism allows it to work with, against and beyond gender type, and so challenge 'assumptions about innate physical gender difference' (2).
Abstract: Peta Tait, Circus Bodies: Cultural Identity in Aerial Performance (London and New York: Routledge, 2005) In Circus Bodies: Cultural Identity in Aerial Performance, Peta Tail positions aerial performance of the past 140 years in the context of changing cultural beliefs about bodies. She channels a wealth of archival research into a nuanced account of the ways in which the tricks, choreography and costuming of aerialists have responded to 'shifts in cultural moods' (6), including cultural assumptions about male and female bodies. Her main contention is that the aerial body's complex combination of artistry and athleticism allows it to work with, against and beyond gender type, and so challenge 'assumptions about innate physical gender difference' (2). Tail's argument is persuasive, skilfully balancing a roughly chronological account of technical advances in aerial performance with the more critical task of mapping cultural representation and reception of gendered, racialised bodies in aerial performance in the past century and a half. Tait begins Circus Bodies with Jules Leotard's triumphant Parisian debut on trapeze in 1859. Though traditional rope and pole acts paved the way for Leotard's trapeze, and the still, swinging and flying return acts that swiftly followed, Tait suggests trapeze captured the public imagination in an unprecedented way (9). Her account contextualises public fascination with flying bodies in terms of a popular craving for spectacle established with nineteenth-century exhibitions of empire (13), a longstanding spiritual and scientific aspiration for mastery of the air (11), and Darwinian notions of natural and social evolution (15). Playing into such nineteenthcentury cultural tropes, 'aerialists flew between scientific precepts and poetic accolades' (16) Tait says, with narratives framing aerial acts ranging from the birdlike, godlike grace of Leotard to the 'comic pantomimes about macabre deaths' (25) of the Hanlon-Lees brothers. For Tait, aerial performance is fundamentally paradoxical; it taps into ideas of freedom, defiance, transgression and danger, but only through the most disciplined muscular training (26, 28). This muscularity mixes up (9) or doubles (28) the aerialist's identity in unique ways, showing 'the light gracefulness of males and the steely muscular strength of females' (1). In the early chapters of Circus Bodies, Tait convincingly attributes cultural anxiety about aerial acts in the late nineteenth century to male-female interchangeability in muscular prowess, and in flying, catching and weightbearing (28, 30-1 ). She looks, for instance, at the trapeze and iron jaw work of LaIa, Leona Dare and Emma Jutau (40-8). Taking the weight of themselves and their male counterparts on their teeth, these women's acts sat awkwardly with spectators' socially conditioned response to sex and race characteristics. Still, Tait reminds readers, while their acts showed a body that 'momentarily outmanoeuvred its low social positioning' (45), their feminised iron jaw apparatus was soon recuperated into a 'more socially conformist female aerial identity' (55) in anonymous aerial ballet and butterfly acts. Turning to the twentieth century, Tait acquaints readers with crossdressing and drag traditions in aerial performance. Her account of heightened hetero masculinity in the sometimes aggressive offstage behaviour of the well-documented 1920s female impersonator Barbette (72) is thorough and insightful. This said, I personally found her analysis of Luisita Leers, a female endurance performer from the same period for whom muscularity on a non-masculine body itself became a form of drag (77), more thought provoking. Tail's analysis unpacks press articles at pains to suggest that the tension between muscularity and inner identity need not queer Leers' femininity in a transgressive way (80-2), successfully underscoring her point about a cultural desire to recoup ambiguous representations of identities, relationships and power in aerial performance. …

41 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: Turner et al. as mentioned in this paper argue that the lack of diverse voices and stories in our community may be a contributor to the resurgence and evolution of the Verbatim Theatre form, both nationally and internationally.
Abstract: The wave of media mergers and acquisitions from the late 1990s to the present day has created an environment where commercialism, shareholder interest and economies of scale dictate an increasingly homogenised media context. Narrowing points of view and decreasing opportunities for debate and for specific communities to know or own their particular stories, as McChesney warns, are putting democracy at risk. Australian Opposition senator John Faulkner sees democracy coming under threat through the relentless pursuit of the latest scoop: 'News now comes packaged, enhanced with manipulative sound and image. Stories that don't suit simplistic solutions are dropped. Stories about scandals boost circulation, and take priority over complex discussion on policy ... The short attention spans of today's media "consumers" are trained by infotainment that seeks to reduce our political process to a more boring version of Survivor.'2 Not only is content delivered in small, high-impact bites but political communicators must conform to the infotainment format. Graeme Turner elaborates on the pervasiveness of celebrity packaging: 'Public relations consultants, media advisers and press officers have proliferated in western political systems and have become standard components of the contemporary furniture of democratic administrations.'3 This lack of depth, diversity and intelligence in media coverage of areas in the public interest. Faulkner claims, is leading to an Australian democracy characterised by distrust, apathy and ultimately anger.4 These commentators argue that the media are pivotal in creating disenfranchised societies, where power is allowed to become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. A growing interdependence between media empire owners and holders of political power effectively suppresses controversy. Complexity is both expensive to produce and difficult to debate, therefore it is not in either stakeholder group's interest, and it is therefore becoming increasingly absent from the public domain. Audiences in Australia, as in the United Kingdom and in the United States, have responded to the increasingly formulaic television news and current affairs by switching off. In a study of current affairs on Australian television, Turner demonstrates that flagships like ABC's Four Corners lost 44.7 percent of its audience between 1991 and 1998, A Current Affair lost 29.2 percent and The 7.30 Report lost 27.3 percent; these trends have sharpened since. Meanwhile, over the last fifteen years, the only innovation to the standard current affairs format is to make it increasingly tabloid.6 Diminishing cultural capital - the way we understand, relate to and participate in our culture7 - is further reduced in Australia by the decline in local drama content on television. While local content in the USA forms 96 percent of screened drama product, and in the UK accounts for 91 percent, in Australia, local drama content has plummeted to 24 percent.8 In 2003 alone, adult television series production dropped by seventy-one hours.9 Adult drama production at the ABC is down to twenty hours a year in 2005, from 102 hours in 2001.10 The resurgence of Verbatim Theatre This lack of diverse voices and stories in our community may be a contributor to the resurgence and evolution of the Verbatim Theatre form, both nationally and internationally.11 Like the proliferation of bloggers on the Net providing alternative voices to mainstream media,12 Verbatim Theatre13 provides a platform for diverse, authentic voices, unheard in popular media. Evolving from Documentary Theatre, Verbatim Theatre plays began in regional Britain in the 1960s. Complex local stories were told by distilling diverse personal narratives woven into a theatrical framework. Today the demand for specificity in subject matter and a variety of perspectives in its presentation has re-invigorated the Verbatim Theatre form and expanded its application. …

33 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: McAuley as discussed by the authors described an ethnographic account of a rehearsal process, by Gay McAuley, (Manchester university press, 2012) and described the rehearsal process as a "not magic but work".
Abstract: Review(s) of: Not magic But work: An ethnographic Account of a rehearsal process, by Gay McAuley, (Manchester university press, 2012).

23 citations

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