Reinventing Drama: Acting, Iconicity, Performance

Front Cover
Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 - Performing Arts - 226 pages

Dramatic performance involves an intricate process of rehearsal based upon imagery inherent in the dramatic text. A playwright first invents a drama out of mental imagery. The dramatic text presents the drama as a range of verbal imagery. During rehearsal, the actors cultivate this verbal imagery within themselves. The performance triggers this cultivated mental imagery, thereby enabling the actors to reinvent the drama in the presence of an audience. This interplay of dramatic imagery constitutes the heart of the process of iconicity. The premise of iconicity is that in dramatic performance actors use the same neural architecture that people use in their daily lives to execute events. The core of this neural architecture is the brain's capacity for internally generating, reduplicating, storing, and triggering imagery. The process of iconicity draws on the actor's use of this mental capacity. This book explores the principles of iconicity and develops them as a process for acting and staging dramatic performances.

This book draws together critical and literary theories and neuropsychology to provide a new artistic process for dramatic performance called iconicity. The first part of the book provides a theoretical perspective on the principles of iconicity. Included are discussions of the nature of dramatic performance, the ideology and process of acting, and the importance of emotions to drama. This initial exploraton of iconicity sometimes refers to practice; however, the ideas presented in the first part of the book largely provide a foundation for the second part, which is more practically oriented. The second part gives close attention to the various components of the iconicity process. It explains dramatic structure and identifies and defines the four strands of iconicity: events, dialogue, interactions, and performance. Throughout the volume, numerous plays are used to provide examples of how the iconicity process works.

 

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Contents

Ideology Acting and Iconicity
37
THE PERSISTENCE OF IDEOLOGY
38
IDEOLOGY IMAGERY AND PERFORMANCE
43
REDEFINING ACTING
46
RECOGNITION
54
CULTIVATING THE AUDIENCE
57
RECLAIMING MIMESIS
58
REHEARSING ICONICITY
60
INDEXICAL EVENTS AND CHARACTERS
122
SYMBOLIC EVENTS AND CHARACTERS
125
THE SYMBOLIC INTERTEXT
131
THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF ICONICITY
133
The Intermediate Strands of Iconicity
135
THE CLASSES OF DIALOGUE
136
ASPECTS OF DIALOGUE REHEARSAL
139
VOICE AND BODY IN THE DIALOGUE OF TIMBRE AND MIEN
143

Acting and Emotion
67
TERMINOLOGY
69
THE AFFECT THEORY OF EMOTION
71
SCRIPT THEORY
83
IDEOLOGY AND AFFECT
86
The Process of Iconicty
89
The Strands of Events
93
THE ICONICITY PROFILE
94
THE ICONISTICDIRECTOR AND DRAMATIC STRUCTURE
95
THE SEMIOSIS OF DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE EVENTS
98
THE MIMESIS OF EVENTS
101
CULTIVATING MENTAL ICONICITY
102
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF PLAYING EVENTS
103
REHEARSING THE STRAND OF EVENTS
105
THE COMPONENTS OF PLOT
108
Rulers and Features of Dramatic Struture
111
FEATURES OF ICONIC EVENTS
119
VOICE AND GESTURE IN DYNAMIC DIALOGUE
148
VOICE AND GESTURE IN CHORIC DIALOGUE
156
The Strand of Interactions
161
KINESIC COORDINATION AND INTERLOCUTION
165
THE ICONICISTDIRECTOR AND REHEARSAL
168
The Strand of Performance
171
THE PERFORMANCE REHEARSALS
173
INTEGRATING THE STRANDS
181
THE ICONICISTDIRECTOR AND THE PERFORMANCE
182
Postscript to a Process
185
TALENT
186
CATHARSIS
188
BIASES AND IDEALS OF ICONICITY
189
Notes
193
Bibliography
205
Index
215
Copyright

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Page 45 - Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor ; suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance: that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature ; for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature ; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.
Page 9 - And for this reason God takes away the mind of these men and uses them as his ministers, just as he does soothsayers and godly seers, in order that we who hear them may know that it is not they who utter these words of great price, when •they are out of their wits, but that it is God himself who speaks and addresses us through them.
Page 17 - ... secret', an ultimate meaning, to the text (and to the world as text), liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity, an activity that is truly revolutionary since to refuse to fix meaning is, in the end, to refuse God and his hypostases - reason, science, law.
Page 45 - Well, do not swear: although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract to-night: It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden; Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be Ere one can say 'It lightens.

About the author (1999)

BRUCE G. SHAPIRO is currently a resident dialogue coach for Village Roadshow Production Services at Warner Bros. Movie World Studios in Queensland, Australia. He was previously Head of Performance and Acting at the School of Drama of the Victorian College of the Arts, and the Artist-in-Residence and Lecturer in Acting, Directing, and Dramatic Literature at Tufts University. He has also taught and directed at the Aboriginal Center for the Performing Arts in Brisbane, Australia, the Academy of the Arts at the Queensland University of Technology, Trinity Rep Conservatory, Stonehill College, the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of South Dakota, and the University of Iowa. He is author of numerous articles, and his books include Divine Madness and the Absurd Paradox: Ibsen's Peer Gynt and the Philosophy of Kierkegaard (Greenwood,1990).

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