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For each prompt (a prompt can be a term, phrase, or concept) given below, please write:a) The definition of the term/phrase/concept, as it pertains to the topics covered in this course. (4 sentences minimum) (1.5 point)b) Name an example that illustrates the term/phrase/concept. All of your examples for this assignment should be TV examples or have some relationship to TV. For example, for #1, your example might be an experience you have had reading fan fiction based on a TV series. For #2, your example might be how you watched an old episode of TV as performance. For #3, your example could be Kim Durham’s experiences as a TV actor, or it could be the experiences of a TV actor as described in an interview. (0.5 point)c) How the example relates to the term/phrase/concept. Make sure to link your example to ideas/arguments made by the author of the term/phrase/concept. (6 sentences minimum) (2 points)how fan fiction based on audiovisual texts (such as television series) is “a species of performance” (author: Francesca Coppa)how a video recording “can be analyzed ‘as’ performance” (author: Richard Schechner)how acting on a television show differs from acting in a stage play (author: Kim DurhamStudies in Theatre and Performance
ISSN: 1468-2761 (Print) 2040-0616 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rstp20
Methodology and praxis of the actor within the
television production process: facing the camera in
EastEnders and Morse
Kim Durham
To cite this article: Kim Durham (2002) Methodology and praxis of the actor within the
television production process: facing the camera in EastEnders and Morse, Studies in Theatre
and Performance, 22:2, 82-94
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/stap.22.2.82
Published online: 06 Jan 2014.
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Download by: [University of California, Berkeley]
Date: 13 April 2016, At: 11:42
Methodology and praxis of the actor
within the television production
process: facing the camera in
EastEnders and Morse
Kim Durham
Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 11:42 13 April 2016
Abstract
This paper reviews, from an actor’s perspective, the demands of television performance that make it distinct from stage performance. The writer compares his
experience in the multi-camera shooting of EastEnders with that in the singlecamera Morse, drawing his conclusions on behalf of the acting profession.
There is an often-expressed assumption within the British acting profession that there is no fundamental distinction to be made between acting
on stage and before the camera. Speaking of film acting, the actress Janet
Suzman argues that ‘There’s no essential difference, you try and reach
the essential something of the character you’re portraying’ (quoted in
Zucker 1999: 26). This would suggest that an experienced actor can
exploit an underlying methodology for playing character that may serve
in both media. On one level, this seems surprising, for there are manifestly broad distinctions to be made between the circumstances in which
a stage performance is delivered and those in which a screen performance is given. We may identify three major differences:
1 The relationship of performer to audience, where he or she is mediated through a medium of mechanical reproduction, is fundamentally
different from that which pertains when the actor is in physical proximity to the audience. There can be no direct interaction.
Furthermore, the performer is dependent upon the decisions of others, both behind the camera and in their edit suite, to determine how
he or she will be perceived by the audience.
2 The means through which dramatic discourse proceeds differ from
screen to stage. This is evidenced both by a different aesthetic
emphasis and by a radically different process of narrative construction. Typically, on screen, narrative is constructed for the audience
through a progressive montage of individual shots rather than, as on
stage, the extended viewing of a broad stage picture. Aesthetically,
the impulse is almost constantly towards a spectacle of realism. An
early Associated-Rediffusion script-service booklet makes this quite
explicit, in particular identifying what is required of the television
actor: ‘The object of television acting, in so far as anyone has yet
been able to define it, is to make the viewer believe that he is watching something that he is not meant to watch, that he is, in fact,
“dropping in on something that was going on before he switched on
82
STP 22 (2) 82–94 © Intellect Ltd 2002
his set and which will continue after he has left”.’ (Quoted in
Hayman 1969: 155)
3 The production processes by which film and television drama are created
are substantially different from the one practised within theatre.
Originally, of course, television was a medium of synchronous transmission, whereas film was always a medium of record. This distinction made
for marked differences in their production processes. By the nature of its
being a ‘live’ event, early television drama retained some of the characteristics of theatre. However, by the late 1960s television drama had become,
through the development of electronic recording technology, an entirely
pre-recorded medium, and much of its output could consequently be
constructed like film. Each shot could be composed individually and discontinuously, using a single camera, and the narrative constructed
subsequently through the editing process. Nevertheless, for reasons of
speed of production and economy, many long-running drama series and
serials retain the use of the multi-camera set-up that was developed
specifically to meet the necessity of capturing ‘live’ performance.
What follows is an examination of my own experience of working as an
actor on just two television productions, one a multi-camera shoot, and the
other a single-camera. In analysing the task of the actor in these production
circumstances I attempt to assess the nature of any distinctive technique
that is required, and whether it is indeed true that one underpinning
methodology of acting can fit the demands of screen and stage.
EastEnders
EastEnders is the BBC’s most popular drama serial, its half-hour episodes currently scheduled over four evenings each week. Production is multi-camera,
using purpose-built sets for both interiors and for the main exterior site. At
the time of my engagement for two episodes, in 1997, the production team
was producing three episodes each week. With few exceptions, scenes are
shot in their entirety in single sustained takes with some editing taking place
simultaneously, through use of a vision-mixing desk, and final editing occurring in post-production. There is no time scheduled for off-set rehearsal.
Character
Appearing in just two episodes of EastEnders,1 with a script delivered well
in advance of the shoot, line learning would not prove a problem. With
sufficient preparation, it was possible to be sure enough of the text for the
playing of dialogue not to involve any conscious effort of memory. On the
other hand, as a visiting actor there are issues of character that are different
to those faced by the regulars. In my brief appearance, I was to be a managing agent who had arrived in Albert Square to evict a regular character
from his flat. Although small – six comparatively short scenes – the part was
well written and on the page gave a clear sense of character. Without being
clearly stated, the writing sketched in an impression of background and
what the character’s preoccupations were. However, due to the speed of
production, there was no time for discussion of character with the director.
There had been some prior discussion between the director and the
Methodology and praxis of the actor within the television production process: …
83
1 EastEnders,
September 1997.
Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 11:42 13 April 2016
Costume Department, and a number of alternative costumes had been
selected for me and were presented to me on my arrival – principally three
overcoats were on offer, as well as a selection of ties. I was to make a selection and show the director. The three overcoats – two sheepskin jackets
and a camelhair coat – and the selection of lurid ties suggested, like the
script, a clear, broad depiction of character. The same could also be said of
my casting in the part. Having a thin, somewhat sharp-featured face, I am
frequently cast as mean-spirited, often ‘dodgy’ characters (see Figure 1).
My conclusion, in truth only reached whilst looking at my costumed self
in the mirror in my dressing room, was that no playing of character was
required from me. The creation of character had already been achieved, by
the combined talents of writer, casting director and costume designer. No
further conscious act of impersonation was needed from the actor.
The writer and director David Mamet takes the reductionist view that
character is never the actor’s concern. To the question, ‘What should happen
in the rehearsal process?’ He answers:
Figure 1. My Spotlight photo for ‘97 (to illustrate the point about my face and
casting on P5).
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Kim Durham
1. The play should be blocked.
2. The actors should become acquainted with the actions they are
going to perform.
What is an action? An action is an attempt to achieve a goal. (Mamet
1997: 72)
For Mamet, ‘There is no character. There are just lines on the page’ (Mamet
1997: 52). Such an intentionally provocative statement is, I imagine, something of a deliberate generalization. It echoes, but goes beyond Stanislavski’s
view that ‘[a]rt begins where there is no role, when there is only “I” in the
given circumstances of the play’ (cited in Toporkov 1979: 156).
It is perhaps easier for Mamet to argue such a case from within a culture
where the casting of roles has been influenced, particularly on the screen, but
also, to a lesser extent, in theatre, by the concerns first identified by the early
Russian film-maker Lev Kuleshov that the actor should, of himself, be precisely the right type for the part.2 In this case, the character might not make
the same choices of clothing as I would, but, beyond wearing the clothes that
my character might choose and supplying a face that carries a certain iconic
significance, my responsibility towards the creation of character was simply to
play the text as if his goals were my goals. As the character had a simple functional dramatic purpose, it was easy to deduce his principal objective: to
repossess a flat. In preparation, it had been relatively straightforward to identify from the text a number of actions that the character performs in order to
attempt to achieve this objective and to overcome various obstacles that are
placed in the way of succeeding in this. In addition, in preparation, I had
examined the text for indications of the circumstances that influence the character’s behaviour. From the character’s perspective, at least in the early scenes,
he is performing a routine function. When that function is thwarted, it is a
frustration, but not a major setback. We may recognize from the above that
the task of character development has been carried out through the adoption
of an orthodox Stanislavskian methodology.
A First Day on Set
My first day’s shoot involved two exterior scenes, both taking place within
Albert Square. The usual EastEnders production schedule breaks recording
into an exteriors shoot day at the beginning of the week, largely on the
external Albert Square set, followed by a series of internal studio days. Thus,
a scene that concludes with an exit into a building from the street will be
recorded on one day, and the interior scene that follows chronologically in
the storyline will be recorded on a subsequent day. Similarly, an external
scene that occurs in the plot after an internal scene will be recorded prior to
that scene. Thus, the first day’s recording involved shooting both my first
scene and my last: my arrival and my departure from Albert Square.
One of the hardest aspects of acting for television is that one frequently
has to perform on one’s first day as a contracted player in an unfamiliar
production. This contrasts markedly with the normal practice in the theatre, where one’s first day on a production is given over generally to a
Methodology and praxis of the actor within the television production process: …
85
2 Kuleshov is very
clear that what is
required of the
screen actor is not
an act of
impersonation but one
of personification. In a
1929 article he
writes: ‘owing to
the technique of
film actors being
quite distinct from
that of theatre
actors, and because
film needs real
material and not a
pretence of reality –
owing to this, it is
not theatre actors
but “types” who
should act in film –
that is, people who,
in themselves, as
they were born, present some kind of
interest for
cinematic treatment’
(Kuleshov 1974: 57).
reading of the script and an opportunity to meet the rest of the cast informally. The anxiety of the actor amidst unfamiliar company is a factor that
most manuals on screen acting consider to be of substantial significance.
Leslie Abbott suggests that:
the making of films is so different in atmosphere from theatre that it is
no surprise that anxiety can strike at the heart of even the most experienced actor when he makes his first appearance on camera … You are
invariably surrounded by hordes of people who seem stunningly indifferent to your performance. They are preoccupied with so many other
activities essential to the making of the film that your acting seems
simultaneously of no importance and of the greatest importance … The
first day on the set is always a lesson under fire. (Abbott 1994: 1–2)
As a visiting artist on a long-running show such as EastEnders, such an experience is particularly acute, and calls upon resources of thorough preparation
and concentration, as well as what social skills and self-confidence one can
muster. In such circumstances, anything that can help to strengthen the inner
creative state is of particular benefit in drawing the attention away from external concerns and anxieties that might otherwise overwhelm the
performance. The exercise of the imagination in preparing a definite inner
reality for the character can act as a bulwark in such circumstances. In other
words, practice would suggest that the development of character internality
has the prosaic benefit of easing performance nerves.
In a television or film script, the notional time of day is given generally
at the head of each scene. This is to enable all concerned to deal with the
discontinuity involved in the actual shoot. It is certainly a useful guide for
the actor to remind him or her of where in the course of events the scene
occurs. In this case, it enabled me to conclude that, as the first scenes were
taking place mid-morning, my character probably had made at least one
routine call elsewhere earlier that day. It is unlikely that the making of such
a decision made any discernible difference in the playing of the scenes.
However, from my perspective as the actor, it allowed me to deepen somewhat the fictional reality within which the character was operating at that
time. As part of my normal preparation, I had also created a simple, imagined, anticipated future for the character – in this case, a fairly straightforward
removal of occupant and the handing over of the flat to a prospective tenant. This corresponds to a practice attributed to Michael Chekhov:
For the actor, it is not enough to simply have an Objective – nor even to
feel a tepid desire for something. You must visualize the Objective as
constantly being fulfilled … It is the vision of the Objective being fulfilled
that creates the impulse for a strong desire. (Chekhov 1953: Afterword)
It is also, as I have discovered, a means by which reactions may be given greater
substance. The visualized objective may become thwarted, or potentially
thwarted, by circumstances. A clear sense of the desired objective will lead to
the opportunity for the mental adjustments of the character to be played out
internally at the point in the shooting schedule when such moments arise.
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Kim Durham
As both scenes required a substantial amount of movement, there were several rehearsals, to enable the two camera operators to practise the precise moves
they would have to make in order to capture the action of the whole scene in
one continuous take. Typically, in marked distinction to theatre, this is the only
kind of rehearsal the actor has in television production. Although the director’s
notes to the three actors in the first scene were entirely concerned with physical positioning, the number of rehearsals gave us the opportunity to run the
dialogue a number of times and to make small adjustments to accommodate
how each other was playing the scene. In other words, in terms of the psychological dynamic of the scene, the actors directed themselves.
With first and last scenes shot consecutively, it was necessary for me to
make the appropriate adjustment, in terms of the energy and tempo of a
character who, by the last scene, has received a substantial change in his circumstances, having had, in the fictional time between the scenes, the
extreme physical condition of the flat revealed to him. As the flat would
not be seen, in real terms, until two days after the shooting of this scene, it
was, of course, impossible to use any genuine reaction to it in the playing
of the final scene. In such circumstances, my instinct is always to perform a
simple imaginative exercise. Extrapolating from the script the known facts
about the flat, I had sketched in a mental picture of it. This conforms to
Stanislavski’s injunction that:
We must have, first of all, an unbroken series of supposed circumstances
in the midst of which our exercise is played. Secondly we must have a
solid line of inner visions bound up with those circumstances, so that
they will be illustrated for us. (Stanislavski 1980: 63)
Reaction Shots and Spatial Awareness
The dramatic discourse of television drama is heavily dependent upon the
close-up shot of the face and the thoughts, emotions and reactions conveyed by that face, rather than, as is the case typically in theatre, through
words. In this case, following the receipt of a piece of information by my
character, the direction in the script for my character read: ‘WE SEE THIS
HIT’. The suggestion from the director was that, at this point, I should
angle my face away from the other actor and towards the camera. A peculiarity of the multi-camera set-up is that the camera capturing one
character’s face cannot be immediately proximate to another character;
otherwise it will be in shot from the second camera’s perspective.
Therefore, in order to be exposed full-face to the camera, the actor must
look away from his or her fellow. In this case, the adaptation required, in
order to justify such a turn away from the other actor and towards the camera, was not difficult and is similar to the requirement for the stage actor to
be able to adjust his or her position on stage for the purposes of blocking
and to provide a reason for such a move.
Similarly, in the interior scene concerning the discovery of the state of
the flat, it was clear from the script that the dramatic pivot was my character’s reaction. In this situation, it may be that there is an advantage in the
lack of rehearsal. One is not likely to become overfamiliar with the surroundings. Admittedly, the three or four rehearsals on camera, needed to
Methodology and praxis of the actor within the television production process: …
87
3 Such a process will
be familiar to most
actors, whether on
camera or on stage,
not least to the
nineteenth-century
actor Tommaso
Salvini: ‘ An actor
lives, weeps, laughs
on the stage, but as
he weeps and laughs
he observes his own
tears and mirth’
(Quoted in Delgado
1986: 199).
4 Carlton TV, 1998.
5 The episode ‘The
Wench Is Dead’,
unique for the Morse
series, involved
period
reconstruction, set
in the world of
Victorian bargees.
Morse, languishing
in hospital, uses historical records and
documents to reveal
a miscarriage of justice.
achieve the appropriate camera angles and eye lines, meant that there was
still something of an illusion of the first time to be created. In such cases I find
it helpful to prepare blocking somewhat mechanically, avoiding taking in
too much of the detail of the surroundings. Subsequently, during a take it
is then possible to focus on specifics and examine them for the first time,
hopefully achieving a genuine reaction. Here, there is a definite advantage
to playing within a multi-camera production process. The opportunity to
play the entire scene facilitates the exercising of the imagination and, at
least in this case, afforded an unobstructed view of graffitied walls and general squalor, offering real stimuli for the generation of a reaction.
A more challenging aspect of the multi-camera set-up was the extreme
spatial precision demanded in this scene. The use of three cameras
demanded that the actors achieve a very precisely defined final position. In
this case, myself and another actor had to be aware of our framing from two
camera positions, one viewing frontally and one viewing from the side.
The latter framing, of three faces in profile, each overlapping, but all visible, required very consciously employed spatial awareness. I found, and
continue to find, the concentration demanded to maintain, in such circumstances, the level of attention to both fictional reality and technical
requirement, a particularly challenging use of the actor’s split focus.3
Morse: The Wench is Dead4
Morse, unlike EastEnders, does not come into the category of fast-production television. It is shot on film with a single camera, each set-up
painstakingly composed. Because of the time allowed for production, dramas such as Morse tend to involve far more periods of inaction for the
actors than during the shooting of episodes of The Bill, EastEnders, and
other ‘fast turnaround’ programmes. In the latter, the sets are generally well
known to the crew and the whole technical process must operate slickly for
the production to function within its time constraints. With larger budgets,
much more time will be given to the preparation of each shot, in respect of
refining the lighting, and the setting up of more complex camera movement. As a production process there is little to distinguish the making of
high-budget television such as Morse from feature-film production. The
budget is reflected in every department, including artists’ fees and, crucially,
in the amount of production time – a six-week shoot for approximately
two hours of broadcast time, as opposed to the average soap allocation of
one week for one and a half hours of broadcast time.
Preparation and the Discontinuous Performance
My own commitment to the episode involved six days filming, spread over
a period of five weeks. This was due mainly to the fact that a number of the
scenes that I was involved with included a narrow boat that had to travel
through the English canal system to its various locations – a time-consuming business.5 As a perfect example of the discontinuous nature of filming,
the first day’s shoot for the whole production, included my, and a fellowaccused’s public hanging, a scene which takes place, as one might imagine,
towards the end of the drama. Although a substantial set-up in terms of setbuilding, the use of a large number of walk-on artists to act as crowd and
88
Kim Durham
militia, the laying of camera track and the use of a crane to create camera
movement, the scene was relatively short, involving only a few lines of dialogue and some action. While the actors knew, from the script, the incidents
that led up to this outcome, we had not had the experience of playing those
scenes. However, certain decisions had to be taken in order to play the
scene. What were the states of mind of the convicted men? How resigned
were they to their fate? What were their relationships to their fellowaccused, who was present but not destined to be hanged? The answers to all
these questions had some bearing on how the scene would be played and
needed to be decided in advance on the basis of clues from the script.
In the theatre, such decisions would usually have been taken only after
extensive rehearsals of the previous scenes, as well as of the scene in question. In this case each actor, preparing individually and privately, had come
to some provisional conclusions about how he would play the scene.
Although the cast for this scene had met briefly before, we had not
rehearsed together or discussed character. Meeting again in the make-up
trailer and subsequently over an extended breakfast while technical preparations were being made for the first shot, we were initially tentative in
engaging in discussion about the work of the morning. However, after
some time, during which comparative strangers became more familiar with
each other, the subject was raised and a discussion ensued. It is typical of
television production that, although the medium itself may mediate far
more between the performer and the audience, the work that actors do
between themselves, when such opportunities arise, is often less mediated
by the presence of a director.
When the actors were eventually called to the set, the director’s first
instruction was for us to ‘show the action’. In other words, he had assumed
that we had rehearsed the scene to some extent and could perform an
agreed representation of it. Additionally, in this case, the discussion
between the actors concerning previous events proved invaluable, as it was
discovered, once the scene was played with the prepared camera movement, that the timing of one of the shots required some additional
ad-libbed dialogue from the actors, which we were able instantly to supply.
Whereas in the theatre there is an assumption that the director will involve
him or herself substantially with the process of performance development,
here the working practice of television production demanded that the
director, as on EastEnders, focused almost solely on product. Far more than
in theatre, process became entirely the actor’s private concern.
Adaptation
A further consequence of a lack of rehearsal was evidenced by a discovery
made during the recording of a scene featuring the horse-drawn narrow boat
that was such a central feature of the narrative action. The mise-en-scène called
for a police constable to instruct the boat to pull into the canal bank, following which the crew were to be arrested. My character, in a drunken sleep in
the cabin, was to be ordered up on deck to be charged with the others. As
soon as we began to rehearse the scene we realized that there were fundamental problems with it. The script had a number of practical flaws. The
whole scene needed to take no more than about two minutes. However, a
Methodology and praxis of the actor within the television production process: …
89
6 This concept is frequently, though by
no means
universally,
consciously used
and referred to during theatre
rehearsals. While
individual actors
may use it in private
preparation, it is
rarely, if ever in my
experience, referred
to openly in
television.
horse-drawn narrow boat, we discovered, takes considerably longer than two
minutes to be brought to a halt. The scene had to be rethought, partially
rewritten by director and cast, and re-rehearsed so that the whole scene
could be played to serve its dramatic function without the narrow boat coming to a standstill. New dialogue, new moves, new given circumstances, new
objectives, new actions – all had to be prepared within a few minutes. Such
rapid adaptation is not untypical of the demands of television production.
Stanislavski uses the term adaptation to describe behaviours that arise
‘naturally, spontaneously, unconsciously, at the very moment when emotions
are at their height’ (Stanislavski 1979: 113). In other words, these are behaviours that arise as intuitive responses to external stimuli. While on-stage
adaptation may be recognized as a lively attentiveness to the moment and the
subtle changes that may occur, the essential ability to adapt as described
above is of a different order. What was required here was an ability to react
rapidly, but consciously and creatively, to changing circumstances in order to
adjust performances immediately prior to recording. Acting rehearsal, technical rehearsal and rewriting had all to take place contiguously. ‘Blocking’
was improvised in one pre-shot rehearsal, while preconceived notions of the
dynamics of interaction rapidly had to be replaced. To enable such rapid
adaptation, it was nevertheless vital that each actor had brought a clear, preprepared conception of the essentials of the scene and his character’s part in
it. Such a production process favours the actor who is able to prepare thoroughly in private, but who is flexible enough to be able to change what has
been prepared when it proves necessary.
Activities
The above example also highlights another distinguishing feature of much
screen drama. Because of the availability of practical props and real locations, there tends to be a greater incorporation of activity, as distinct from
physical action, into the dramatic action. By ‘activity’, I mean a series of
connected mechanical movements that are undertaken as part of a character’s everyday physical practice. They might be work-related or
play-oriented, and may or may not have psychological significance. I use
the term ‘physical action’ here specifically to refer to the Stanislavskian
concept of ‘a small achievable task with psychological reverberations
designed to affect a partner or situation’ (Stanislavski 1980: 233).6
Having a real, functioning, horse-drawn narrow boat in a sequence, suggests a need for the actors to be convincingly able to handle a narrow boat.
Many, if not most, stage plays, do have their moments where actors are
engaged in practical activity and, indeed, such moments are often peculiarly
engaging. However, it is in screen drama where such business really comes
to the fore. There are advantages for the actor in being in the real location,
the genuine place of activity, as so often happens with location shooting. He
or she does not have to create the illusion of the activity, as may often happen in the theatre. Albert Finney, describing his first experience of film
work during the shooting of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, recalls that,
When I was being photographed working at that lathe, then I could
absolutely concentrate on what the character was supposed to do.
90
Kim Durham
There was no cheating involved, you know. On the stage it would
have been made of cardboard, and part of my job as an actor would
have been convincing the audience that the cardboard lathe was a real
one. (see Hayman 1969: 108)
On the other hand, it did mean that he had to learn how to use a lathe –
not just how to give the illusion of working a lathe, but genuinely how to
work it. For the character, this is an activity that has become second nature,
which can be performed almost without thinking. As much as it will
expose insincerity, the camera is equally unforgiving in revealing basic
incompetence. The film actor Michael Caine, describes his practice of
preparing activities thus:
I go through each scene and do my actions the same way, over and
over, exactly as I imagine I will have to do them on the set … If you’re
going to initiate an action, PLAN IT. Organize your physical actions
and tasks so that they are logical. (Caine 1990: 33)
We should be clear here that Caine is not using the term ‘physical action’
in the Stanislavskian sense. For him, much of his private preparation is simply given over to rehearsing business, or physical activity. Such prosaic
planning is of even greater priority where, as in the case of working with a
horse-drawn narrow boat, the activity is habitual for the character, but
completely unfamiliar to the actor.
In Stanislavskian terms, a facility with such activity is part of the given circumstances of a character and must be convincingly incorporated in the
performance. Such incorporation may require, of course, painstaking practice. My experience on Morse, I believe, was not untypical. On those
occasions where television productions have paid me for pre-shoot rehearsal
time, it has generally not been to rehearse dialogue or discuss character, but,
quite appropriately, to enable me to acquire the rudimentary ability to perform some essential activity. As part of the crew of the narrow boat, I had a
day of learning how to steer, lead a horse on a towpath, and hitch and
unhitch a horse from a narrow boat. All of these skills proved essential, not
only in enabling the actors to behave physically as their characters with
some small degree of conviction, but also it made possible the unforeseen
hurried adaptation of the aforementioned scene. There is little that is unique
to the screen actor as opposed to the stage actor here. However, there is a
distinction in how frequently one is called upon to incorporate convincingly an activity as a ‘given circumstance’ of character in television.
Acting without Support
As in EastEnders, there were key moments where my contribution to a
scene principally involved a reaction. In one sequence, one of the protagonists was to fall off the narrow boat into the canal and disappear, while my
character led the horse along the bank. In the multi-camera production circumstance of EastEnders, my reaction was recorded within the playing of
the whole scene. Here, on a single camera shoot, it was recorded in isolation. Thus my reaction, shot in close-up, and then in a medium shot, was
Methodology and praxis of the actor within the television production process: …
91
to an imagined, rather than a real stimulus. Such a situation is rare in the
theatre, where continuity of action gives one the opportunity for an unbroken progression of stimulus-response. Here, one had to create the illusion
of the stimulus. While the action of the actor hitting the water was
rehearsed, I was able to walk some distance along the bank and prepare in
private. My tendency, I believe, in such circumstances, is to offer an overreaction or an action that is too quick for the camera to register properly. I
find it easy to either ‘snatch’ at a reaction or, conversely, to overdemonstrate it. The script describes a character disappearing into the water, as an
eventual consequence of which my character is later to be hanged for murder. Of course, none of this is known to the character at the time. The
splash of an object hitting the water is likely to be a not entirely infrequent
phenomenon to a bargee. Thus, an initial reaction might be to be startled
but not immediately overconcerned, although this might rapidly descend
into panic as the possible cause of the splash is contemplated.
I consciously considered such a short logical development with its subtext of unspoken thoughts: A splash – ‘What was that?’ – ‘Can’t see
anything’ – ‘It was quite a large splash’ – ‘Why is no one visible on deck?’
– ‘What the Hell is going on here?’. While it is clear that to signal each of
these thoughts would be an absurd exhibition of mummery, allowing these
thoughts to pass through the mind as a subtext is necessary for a convincing and sufficiently sustained reaction. Stanislavski, writing of stage
performance, where the prime tool of communication is the spoken word,
describes subtext as that which ‘makes us say the words that we do’
(Stanislavski 1979: 113). Preparation that creates such subtext and engenders it during performance is perhaps even more vital where no words are
spoken and where the silent passage of such subtext through the mind of
the character is itself the actor’s major contribution to a reading of the
shot. Such private preparation, it seems to me, is made further necessary
by the fragmentary nature of single-camera television production.
Whereas in theatre rehearsal, and even in a multi-camera shoot, such
moments might be resolved organically and intuitively, my experience is
that for the single camera, frequently the actor, imaginatively and logically,
has to prepare these privately for him or herself.
Another incident in the shoot also illustrates the need for the television
actor to sustain performance in comparative isolation and without support
either from the sequence of events or fellow-actors. A short scene involved
my character lifting a hatch and, after the briefest of exchanges, being
invited into a female passenger’s cabin. The scene was shot from both my
character’s and the female passenger’s perspective. In both cases, the limitations created by the size of the cabin and the hatch meant that the camera
filled the space where the character out of shot notionally would be. Thus,
both the actress and I were required to perform without the presence of
the other. Although it had been possible to practise this short exchange
together earlier, using the location, for the performance on camera both of
us had to rely on the re-creation from memory of an exchange rather than
a real experience of one. With the camera in extreme proximity, the
demands on the imagination of the television actor are extreme. As an
added complication, this exchange, which took place at night, relied on
92
Kim Durham
very limited and very precise sources of light. My first take became an
exercise in finding my precise end-position within the frame. I needed two
further takes to be able to marry the technical requirements of the scene
with the necessary conviction for playing the scene.
Conclusions
The above accounts are by no means exhaustive, but illustrate several of the
concerns that are of significance when considering the circumstances of performance to camera as distinct from performance on stage. They would seem
to suggest that a methodology for screen acting should enable the actor to:
1) Prepare privately to performance level an appropriately developed character internality.
2) Employ conscious techniques of relaxation and concentration.
3) Develop a flexible approach to preparation which will allow for a fully
formed performance to be substantially adapted at short notice.
4) Have an awareness of the particular importance of convincingly incorporating activity into a character’s ‘given circumstance’.
None of these is incompatible with the broadly Stanislavskian methodology
which is the orthodoxy of British stage training. Indeed, they would appear
to suggest that the screen actor, who works so much of the time without
rehearsal or directorial input, needs just such a personal methodology to a
highly developed degree. There is, however, as illustrated by my experience
of characterization on EastEnders, a strong tendency for television, with its
intimacy of observation and iconic shorthand, to favour approaches that
emphasize personification over impersonation.
My experiences also suggest that there are certain technical requisites
for screen acting that are of a different order to those for the stage. In the
theatre, the actor requires a considerable spatial precision. However, on
these particular multi-camera and single-camera shoots, as on others, I discovered occasions where the degree of spatial awareness required for the
camera went beyond anything I have needed on stage.
One practitioner who did not underestimate the demands of screen acting, both in terms of a methodology of process and technique for
performance, was, indeed, Stanislavski. Late in his life he recognized that
‘[a]n actor in the talking films is obliged to be incomparably more skilful
and technically expert than an actor on the stage. Film actors need real theatre training’ (Stanislavski 1963: 15). The conclusion is not ill founded.
However the examination I have offered would seem to suggest that, while
such a methodology may be capable of meeting the underpinning need for
the development of appropriate character internality for the screen as well
as the (realist) theatre, dealing with the vastly different practical circumstances of television production requires some additional preparation. A
recent National Council for Drama Training report concluded that:
drama school graduates seem absolutely unanimous in their view that
their first television jobs were terrifying because they knew so little
of how the process works, of who was who in the crew, of what was
expected of them. (NCDT 2002: 9)
Methodology and praxis of the actor within the television production process: …
93
This must be a matter of some concern in a current employment climate
where, according to the same report, ‘it is in television that today’s graduates are most likely to get their first professional acting jobs’ (NCDT 2002:
7). A training that only provides a methodology coupled with stage experience, while failing to offer the experience of television production and an
opportunity to develop the technical craft associated with performance
before the camera, cannot prepare acting students for the profession as it
currently operates.
Works cited
Abbott, Leslie, Acting for Films and TV, Belmont, Cal.: Star Publishing Company,
1994.
Caine, Michael, Acting in Film, New York: Applause Books, 1990.
Chekhov, Michael, To the Actor – On the Technique of Acting, New York:
HarperCollins, 1953.
Delgado, Ramon, Acting with Both Sides of Your Brain, New York: CBS College
Publishing, 1986.
Hayman, Ronald, Techniques of Acting, London: Methuen, 1969.
Kuleshov, Lev, Kuleshov on Film: writings of Lev Kuleshov , trans. and ed. Ronald
Levaco, London: University of California Press, 1974.
Mamet,David, True and False: heresy and common sense for the actor, New York:
Random Books, 1997.
National Council for Drama Training (NCDT), Report of the Recorded Media
Working Party, 2002.
Stanislavski, Constantin, An Actor Prepares, trans. and ed. E.R. Hapgood,
Glasgow: Glasgow University Press, 1980 (first published, 1936).
Stanislavski, Constantin, Building a Character , trans. and ed. E.R. Hapgood,
London: Eyre Methuen, 1979 (first published, 1950).
Stanislavski, Constantin, An Actor’s Handbook: an alphabetical arrangement of concise
statements on aspects of acting, trans. and ed. E.R. Hapgood, New York: Theatre
Arts Books, 1963.
Toporkov, V.O., Stanislavski in Rehearsal: the final years, trans. and ed. Christine
Edwards, New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1979.
Zucker, Carol, In the Company of Actors: Reflections on the Craft of Acting, London:
A. & C. Black, 1999.
94
Kim Durham
224
PART Ill-READERS
AND WRITERS
in cyherspace. In Commu11itiesin cyberspace,ed. Mark Smith and Peter Kollock, 29-59.
London: Routledge.
Doty, Alexander. 1995. There’s something queer here. In Out in culture: Gay, lesl1ia11,
and queer essaJ’S011popular culture, ed. Corey K. Creekmur and Alexander Doty,
71-90. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.
Dyer, Richard. 1998. Stars. London: British Film Institute.
Faderman, Lillian. 1981.Surpassing the love of men: Romantic friends/rip and love between
women from tire Re11t1issa11ce
to tirepresent. New York,:William Morrow.
years of lromosexuality mid otlrer essays 011Greek
Halperin, David. 1990. One /111ndred
iol’e. New York: Routledge.
Haraway, Donna. 1991.A cyhorg manifesto: Science, technology, and socialist-feminism
of nature,
in the late twentieth century. In Simians, cyborgsand women: The rei111•f!11tio11
149-81. New York: Routledge.
Henderson, Samatha, and Michael Gilding. 2004. “I’ve never clicked this much with anyone in my life”: Trust and hyperpersonal communication in online friendships. New
Media a11dSociety 6:487-506.
Hills, Matt. 2002. Fan cultures. London: Routledge.
Isilya. 2004. Not based on a true story. Available at: http://www.juppy.org/santa/
stories.php?ForAuthorlD=IOl&Year=2004 (accessed June I, 2006)
fans and participatory culture. New
Jenkins, Henry. 1992. Textual poaclrers:Tele1•isio11
York: Routledge.
Lamb, Patricia Frazer, and Diane Veith. 1986. Romantic myth, transcendence, and Star
Sexuality and fantastic literature, ed. Donald Palumbo,
Trek zines. In Erotic 1111il•erse:
236-55. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
011the electronicfrontier: Conceptual issues in cyberLudlow, Peter, ed. 1996. High 110011
space. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Penley, Constance. 1992. Feminism, psychoanalysis, and the study of popular culture.
In Cultural studies, ed. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula A. Treichler,
479-500. New York: Routledge.
Homesteading 011the electronic
Rheingold, Howard. 1993/2000. Tire virtual comm1111ity:
frontier. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Rojek, Chris. 2001. Celebrity. London: Reaktion.
Schechner, Richard. 1988. Performance theory. New York: Routledge.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 1985.Between men: E11glislr
litemture and male lromosocialdesire.
New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
Smith-Rosenberg, Carol. 1985. The female world of love and ritual: Relations between
women in nineteenth-century America. In Disorderly conduct: Visions of gender in
Victorian America, 53-76. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Smol, Anna. 2004. “Oh … oh … Frodo!” Readings of male intimacy in Tire Lord of tire
Rings. Modern Fiction Studies 50:949-79.
Stacey,Jackie. 1991.Feminine fascinations: Forms of identification in star-audience relations. In Stardom: Industry of desire, ed. Christine Gledhill, 141-63. London: Routledge.
Turkle, Sherry. 1995.Life 011the screen:Identity i11tireage of the Internet. New York: Simon
and Schuster.
Turner, Graeme. 2004. Umlerstmrdingcelebrity. London: Sage.
PART IV
MEDIUM AND MESSAGE:
FAN FICTION AND BEYOND
10. Writing Bodies in Space
Media Fan Fiction
as Theatrical Performance
FrancescaCoppa
ABS:RACT.-_ I argue that that fan fiction develops in response to dra-
matic, not literary, modes of storytelling and therefore can be seen to
~ulfill performative rather than literary criteria. By recognizing drama
‘.n~tead of pr~se as the antecedent medium for fan fiction, and by exammmg fan ~ctton through th~ lens of performance studies, three highly
debated thmgs about fan fiction become explicable: (I) fan fiction’s focus
o~ b~dies; (2) fan fiction’s repetition; and (3) fan fiction’s production
w1thm the context of media fandom. Fan fiction, whether written in
te!eplay form or not, directs bodies in space: readers come to fan fiction
with extratextual knowledge, mostly of characters’ bodies and voices, and
the writer uses this to direct her work. In theatre, there’s a value to revisit!ng the same text in order to explore different aspects and play out
different scenarios; in television, we don’t mind tuning in week after
week to see the same characters in entirely different stories. Similarly
fan fiction retells stories, but also changes them. If traditional theatr~
takes a script and makes it three-dimensional in a potentially infinite
n~mbe: of productions, modern fandom takes something thrce?1m_ens1onaland then produces an infinite number of scripts. This activity IS not authoring texts, but making productionsrelying on the
audience’s shared extratextual knowledge of sets and wardrobes, of the
actors’ bodies, smiles, and movements to direct a living theatre in the
mind.
225
226
PART IV-MEDIUM
ANO MESSAGE
10. Writing Bodies in Space (Coppa)
Introduction
I explore a relatively simple proposition: that fan fiction develops in
response to dramatic rather than literary modes of storytelling and can
therefore be seen to fulfill performative rather than literary criteria. This
may seem obvious, as the writing of fan fiction is most strongly and
specifically associated with the nearly forty-yea’r-old phenomenon of media
fandom, 1 which is to say, the organized subculture that celebrates, analyzes,
and negotiates with stories told through the mass ( mainly televisual) media,
and whose crossroads has long been the annual Media West convention held
since 1981 in Lansing, Michigan. But the importance of media fan fiction
being written in response to dramatic rather than literary storytelling has
been overlooked for at least two reasons: first, that fan fiction is itself a textual enterprise, made of letters and words and sentences written on a page
(or, more likely these days, a screen), and it therefore seems sensible to
treat it as a literary rather than an essentially dramatic form; and second,
that media fandom has its origins in science fiction fandom, which is a
heavily textual genre. Media fandom spun off from science fiction fandom
as a direct result of the original Stnr Trek television series (1966-1969),2
and although fans and scholars have catalogued many similarities (in fan nish organization, jargon, and interests; even today, most media fans maintain a strong interest in science fiction and fantasy) and differences (most
strikingly in terms of gender, but also in attitudes toward profit and professionalization) between the two fannish cultures, the impact of the switch
in genre from prose to drama is rarely discussed or even noticed. But
whereas fans of literary science fiction often take to writing “original” science fiction themselves, fans of mass media write fan fiction – which, I submit, is more a kind of theatre than a kind of prose.
In making this claim, I should note that I am definingfn11fictionnarrowly
as creative material featuring characters that have previously appeared in works
whose copyright is held by others . Although the creative expansion of extant
fictional worlds is an age-old practice, by restricting the term fn11fictio11
to reworkings of currently copyrighted material, I effectivelylimit the definition
not just to the modern era of copyright, but to the even more recent era
of active intellectual property rights enforcement. Although fans themselves
often seek continuities between their art-making practices and those with
a much longer history (Laura M. Hale starts her History of Fan Fie timeline
with “0220 The Chinese invent paper”), 3 this conflation of folk and fan cultures may blur important distinctions between them, not least of which is the
relatively recent legal idea that stories can be owned. It is only when storytelling
becomes industrialized-or,
to draw upon Richard Ohmann’s definition of
227
mass culture, produced at a distance b
I .
ists- that fan fiction begin t
k
ya re at1vely small number of special””- ,, . .
s O ma e sense as a categorv b
I
ians d1stmguished fron1 Ohn1a ‘ d’

,, ecause on y then are
nn s 1stant spe · )’ ” ·
differentiated from professionals (1996 14· d c1aG1sts,Just as amateurs are
Th ·
, , an see arber 2001).
e hne between amateur and professional writing is both sharply
de~ne~ an~ frequently crossed in science fiction fandom, because science
fiction 1s. a literature
·
.
. itself written by fans of the genre· , to be an a ma t eur sc1enc~ fiction ~nter 1s t~erefore merely a step on the way to becoming a profess1ona_l science fict10n writer, and professional writers still go to
conventions to hobn_ob. Fr?m thi_sperspective, the professional is superior
to the ai~ate~r, who 1sservmg a kmd of apprenticeship. Conversely, MediaWest ~ndes Itself on being a convention run by fans and for fans, without
any paid guests (professional authors, actors, or producers), and fan fiction
writers tend to be defiantly amateur in the sense of writing precisely what
they want for love alone. In this schema, to be a professional is to write at
the command of others for money. There are exceptions to this in creators
like Joss Whedon or Aaron Sorkin, who are seen as relatively fannish auteurs
trying to make personal shows within the confines of the industry. However, fans mostly shake their heads in bemusement at television shows that
can’t keep track of basic continuity, or films that miss obvio~s dramatic
opportunities; it’s understood that this is the by-product of creating a dramatic universe for profit and by committee. Bemusement can give way to
an angrier sort of frustration when creators visibly command the resources
and power necessary for good mass media storytelling and are judged to
have botched it anyway (George Lucas and Chris Carter come to mind).
In the infamous “Get a Life” (1986) sketch on Snt11rdn)’Night Live,
William Shatner framed his involvement with Star Trek as purely professional: “You’ve turned an enjoyable little job, that I did as a lark for a few
years, into a colossal waste of time!” Shatner’s professionalism is tied to his
refusal to take mass media storytelling seriously. But what of the fan who
does take mass media storytelling seriously? What response is available to
her? The science fiction fan may challenge her literary forerunners by
becoming a professional writer, but the media fan is less likely to become
a producer, screenwriter, or director. Science fiction is produced from
among “us,” but the mass media is still produced at a distance by “them.”
Few fan fiction writers will ever have access to the means of production for
mass media storytelling . The bar is much higher; the funds needed are enormous; one still has to move to Los Angeles or Vancouver; the odds of writing a show you like, as opposed to one you’re assigned to, are small; until
relatively recently, the gender bias in Hollywood was astounding. There is,
in short, a very small chance of a fan fiction writer becoming a professional
228
PART IV-MEDIUM
ANO MESSAGE
mass media storyteller, even if she was inclined to do so. Defiant amateurism in this case is both realistic and structurally smart, but that doesn’t
stop some science fiction fans from scoffing at the media fan’s refusal to write
.
. .
.
something potentially salable .
Not only has “derivative” fiction been scoffed at w1th111science fict1?n
fandom but drama has historically been a belittled category as well. 4 Despite
the pop~tlar sense of science fiction as a genre wi°th space battles, laser guns,
and voyages to the moon, these dramas have been traditionally_ scoffe? at
by science fiction writers, whose allegiance is to idea-based narrative fiction.
Magazines and novels are at the heart of science fiction fandom, not stage,
film, or television (Ohmann 1996; Zimmerman 2003). In January 1976, an
essay by Harlan Ellison appeared in the Science Fiction Writers of.America newsletter urging the membership to take drama, and the SFWA s Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, more seriously:
We haven’t been quite as concerned with the Drama Nebulas as with the_more
familiar categories, chiefly because a small percentage o~ our membership (1as
been employed in the areas that Nebula touches, and so 1t has been sometl~mg
of an illegitimate offspring. But sf films and tv shows and stage product10ns
and sf-affiliated record albums reach a much wider audience than even our
most popular novels and stories. And to a larg~ degree !he public image of sf
is conditioned by these mass-market presentations IEllison 1984, 82].
Ellison pointed out the historic “snobbishness on the part of our older,
more print-oriented members toward film and tv” and noted that “everyone else seems to understand the power of film/tv. SFWA doesn’t” (84).
However, when the group chose not to award a Nebula for drama in 197′.,
Ellison resigned from SWFA and gave a speech in which he berated his
audience for “worrying about a lousy 5 cents a word” while ignoring the
much more lucrative fields of stage, television, film, and audio recordings
(87-98). But Ellison’s concern was for the strategic and financial importan~e
of drama, not for drama’s artistic value. In fact, Ellison is blatant about his
allegiance to prose: “Tragically, the illiterates keep m~lti~lying, and the
audience for books 11111st
be kept alive! … Books are my first tnterest, books
should be your first interest. They count. But the way to support the writing of books is to get some of that film and TV money” (:3 ).
.
This is hardly an enthusiastic defense of performat1ve storytellmg;
Ellison merely argued that SFWA members should profit from the current
boom in dramatic science fiction -1977 being, of course, the year Star Wars
was released. Ellison not only wrote the hands-down most popular episode
of Star Trek, “City On the Edge of Forever,” but is now also famous as a
fierce defender of writers’ intellectual property. However, the snobbishness
against drama Ellison was fighting in the 1970s is still alive and well in the new
JO. Writi11gBodies i11Space(Coppa)
229
millennium. Orson Scott Card (2005) celebrated the recent (and surely temporary) death of the Star Trek franchise by attacking the original series as mere
visual “spectacle” for.people ‘,;ho weren’t readers of science fiction, although
he does end by grantmg that screen sci-fi has finally caught up with written
science fiction.” This is offensive to the female sf fans who created Star Trek
fandom in the late 1960s; as Justine Larbalestier (2002) has shown, women
“‘.ere always present as readers of sf, though they weren’t always visible on the
zme letter pages that were the public face of the sf fandom (23-27). In fact,
the ~ubset of female sf fans who founded Star Trek fandom had multiple literacies and competencies: like many readers (and writers) of science fiction
~hey were likel_ynot only to be avid readers but also to have advanced degree~
111the hard sciences at a time when this was much less common for women
(Coppa, “A Brief History of Media Fandom,” this volume).
Most media fans still maintain at least a (ritual) allegiance to print over
Potter and Tl,e
film; the two most recent large-scale media fandoms-Harry
Lord of the Rings- are listed at the multifandom archive site Fan fiction.net
und~r “Books” rather than “Movies” even though both fandoms grew exponentially only after film versions appeared. Ask a fan, and she’ll generally
express a preference for the book over the “movieverse,” but over and over,
dramatic, not literary, material generates fan fiction. Although creative fannish practices have become familiar enough to be applied to practically every
genre of art-fanfic exists about books, movies, television, comics, cartoons,
anime, bands, celebrity culture, and political culture – it’s only when stories get embodied that they seem to generate truly massive waves of fiction.
It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that fan fiction is an inferior art form and worthy of derision – oh, for kid~, maybe, sure, to get them
reading and writing, but writing fan fiction is nothing that any respectable adult
should be doing. Fan fiction, from this point of view, is neither art nor commerce. Instead,_it is charged with being derivative and repetitive, too narrowly
~ocuse? on bodies and ~harac~er at the expense of plot or idea. That may sound
hke failure by conventional literary standards, but if we examine fan fiction
as a species of performance, the picture changes. Fan fiction’s concern with
bodies is often perceived as a problem or flaw, but performance is predicated
on the idea of bodies, rather than words, as the storytelling medium.
Scholars of performance studies often refer to their object of study as
“the movement of bodies in space,” and the behavior of those bodies is never
unique or “original”; all behavior, as Richard Schechner (2002) explains, “consists of recombining bits of previously behaved behaviors” (28). For this reason, Schechner defines performance as “twice behaved” or “restored” behavior
(22), so a focus on the importance of repetition and combination as well as a
focus on bodies is intrinsic to performance as a genre. As Schechner explains:
230
PART JV-MEDIUM
10. Writi11gBodies i11Space (Coppa)
AND MESSAGE
Restored behavior is living behavior treated as a film director treats a strip of
film. These strips of behavior can be rearrange~ or rec_o~structed; the~ are
independent of the casual systems (personal, s~_,al, poh~1Cal,
technolo~1~al)
that brought them into existence. They have a hte .of their own. The _origmal
“truth” or “source”of the behavior may not be known, or may be lost, ignored,
contradicted-even while that truth or source is being honored [28].
This decontextualizing of behavior echoes the appropriation and use of
existing characters in most fan fiction; in fact, one could define fan fiction
as a textual attempt to make certain characters “perform” according to
different behavioral strips. Or perhaps the characters who populate fan
fiction are themselves the behavioral strips, able to walk out of one story
and into another, acting independently of the works of art that brought
them into existence. The existence of fan fiction postulates that characters
are able to “walk” not only from one artwork into another, but from one
genre into another; fan fiction articulates that characters are neither constructed or owned, but have, to use Schechner’s phrase, a life of their own
not dependent on any original “truth” or “source.”
.
. .
.
What better tool to apply to studying Star Trek and its derivative artistic productions than a form of criticism dedicated to explaining the semiotic value of bodies in space? By recognizing drama and not prose as the
antecedent medium for fan fiction, and by examining fan fiction through
the lens of performance studies, we are able to begin explaining three highly
debated things about fan fiction: (I) Why does fan fiction seem to focus on
bodies? (2) Why does fan fiction seem so repetitious? and (3) Why is fan
fiction produced within the context of media fandom? What is the relationship between a fanfic writer and her audience?
Embodying the Geek Hierarchy
I begin a more detailed argument about the conflict between textual
and embodied meanings with a quick close reading of the Brunching Shuttlecock’s “Geek Hierarchy” (Figure IO.I). The Brunching Shuttlecocks are
an online comedy troupe popular among a broad spectrum of geeks, nerds,
fans, programmers, and hackers. The “Geek Hierarchy” is one of their most
circulated jokes, but a revealing joke, one that gets at something true about
fannish hierarchies and social structure .
The Shuttlecocks place “Published Science Fiction Authors” at the
very top of the chart, to be followed by “Science Fiction Literature
Fans,” “Science Fiction Television Fans,” “Fanfic Writers,” “Erotic Fanfic
231
Writ.erst and “Erotic Fanfic Writers Who Put Themselves in the Story”
(all italics are my emphasis). To frame it another way, the Shuttlecocks
rank the dramatic below the literary and the erotic below the dramatic .
The hierarchy supports traditional values that privilege the written word
over the spoken one and mind over body. The move down the hierarchy
therefore represents a shift from literary values (the mind, the word,
the “original statement”) to what I would claim are theatrical ones
(repetition, performance, embodied action). As we descend, we move
further away from “text” and more toward “body,” and, at least on
the media fandom side of the diagram, toward the female body (because
fan writers are likely to be women). At the very bottom of the hierarchy
are the “furries,” or fans who enjoy media involving anthropomorphic
animals. These fans indulge a fantasy of pure body that asserts a connection between our human bodies and animal bodies. The mainstream
discomfort with that idea is straight out of Freud’s Civilization and Its Dis-
contents.
Even the Geek Hierarchy’s
comparison
between “Science Fiction
in terms of embodied action – because writing is a visible physical activity, a verb, while
“authoring” (derived from the Latin auctor, “creator”) is something
more complex. To author a text is to have power over it, to take public responsibility for it, regardless of whether or not one did the actual
work of selecting words and putting them in order. Authorship is a sign
of control rather than creation. This distinction is gendered, because
there is a larger tradition of seeing the female writer in terms of body
rather than mind. Consider, for instance, Hawthorne’s famous denigration of female authors as “scribbling women”; the slur conjures a picture of these women as engaged in frenetic activity, as if women’s
writing must be more physical than mental. Scribbling women are like
skiing women, clen11ingwomen, da11ci11g
women -not minds, but bodies in space.
Moreover, Henry Jenkins, in Textual Poachers (2002), explains that
one of the earliest uses of the word fan was in reference to “women theatregoers, ‘Matinee Girls,’ who male critics claimed had come to admire the
actors rather than the plays” ( 12)- or, to gloss the idea another way, bodies rather than texts, or to have given a somehow wrongful emphasis to the
body in space. Similarly, Joan Marie Verba, in her 1996 history of Star Trek
zine culture , Boldly Writi11g,notes that by 1975, ever-increasing numbers
of fans saw Star Trek not as science fiction but “as a ‘buddy’ show, or as
a heroic/romantic saga, in which Kirk and Spock were the focus.” She
continues, “Many of these stories reminded me of the ancient Greek
Authors” and “Fanfic Writers” makes its distinction
j
2
W H A T
W h a t is w t o
15
P E R F O R M A N C E ?
perform”?
In business, spofts, and sex, “to perform” is to do something
up to a standard — to succeed, to excel. In the arts, “to
perform” is to put on a show, a play, a dance, a concert. In
everyday life, “to perform” is to show off, to go to extremes,
to underline an action for those who are watching. In the
twenty-first century, people as never before live by means of
performance.
“To perform” can also be understood in relation to:




Being
Doing
Showing doing
Explaining “showing doing.”
Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535-475 BCE): Greek philosopher
credited with the creation of the doctrine of “£lux,n the theory of
impermanence and change, You can’t step into the same river twice
because the flow of the river insures that new water continually
*
;
replaces the old.
Guillermo G6mez~Pefia {1955*-* ): Mexican-born bi-national
performance artist and author, leader of La Pocha Nostra. His works
include both writings Warriorfor Gringostroika (1993), The New World
Border (1996)> Dangerous Border Crosseh (2000), and Ethno-Techno
Writings on Performance, Activism, and Pedagogy (2005, with Elaine Pena)
— and performances: Border Brup (1990), El Nafiazeca (1994), Border
Stasis (1998), Brownout: Border Pulp Stories. (2001), and Mexterminator
vs the Global Predator (2005).
.
“Being” is existence itself. “Doing” is the activity.of all
that exists, from quarks to sentient beings to supergalactic
Coco Fusco (I960- ): Cuban-born interdisciplinary artist based
strings. “Showing doing” is performing: pointing to, under­
in New York City, Collaborated with Guillermo Gomes-Pena on
lining, and displaying doing. “Explaining ‘showing doing'” is
the performance Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit the West (1992),
Other performances include: Doloresfrom Wh to 22h (2002, with
performance studies.
Ricardo Dominguez) and The Incredible Disappearing Woman (2003,
It is very important to distinguish these categories from
with Ricardo Dominguez). Fusco is the author of English is Broken
each other. “Being” may be active or static, linear or circular,
Here (199S), Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of’the Americas (2000), The
expanding or contracting, material or spiritual. Being is
Bodies
That Were Not Ours (2001), and Only Skin Deep (2003, with Brian
a philosophical category pointing to whatever people theorize
Wallis).
is the “ultimate reality.” “Doing” and “showing doing” are
actions. Doing and showing doing are always in flux, always
changing — reality as the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher
reflexive; referring back to oneself or itself.
Heraclitus experienced it. Heraclitus aphorized this
perpetual flux: “No one can step twice into the same river,
nor touch mortal substance twice in the same condition”
(fragment 41) .The fourth term, “explaining ‘showing doing’,” P e r f o r m a n c e s
is a reflexive effort to comprehend the world of perfor­
mance and the world as performance.This comprehension is Performances mark identities, bend time, reshape and
usually the work of critics and scholars. But sometimes, in adorn the body, and tell stories. Performances — of art, rituals,
Brechtian theatre where the actor steps outside the role to or ordinary life — are “restored behaviors,” “twice-behaved
comment on what the character is doing, and in critically behaviors,” performed actions that people train for and
aware performance art such as Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s rehearse (see Goffman box). That making art involves
and Coco Fusco’s Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit trainin
the g and rehearsing is clear. But everyday life also
West (1992), a performance is reflexive. I discuss this sort involves years of training and practice, of learning appro­
priate culturally specific bits of behavior, of adjusting and
of performance in Chapters 5,6, and 8.
28
n
WHAT 15 PERFORMANCE?
performing one’s life roles in relation to social and personal
circumstances.The long infancy and childhood specific to the
human species is an extended period of training and rehearsal
for the successful performance of adult life. “Graduation”
into adulthood is marked in many cultures by initiation
rites. But even before adulthood some persons more com­
fortably adapt to the life they live than others who resist or
rebel. Most people live the tension between acceptance and
rebellion. The activities of public life — sometimes calm,
sometimes full of turmoil; sometimes visible, sometimes
masked — are collective performances. These activities
range from sanctioned politics through to street demon­
strations and other forms of protest, and on to revolution.
The performers of these actions intend to change things, to
maintain the status quo, or, most commonly, to find or make
some common ground. A revolution or civil war occurs when
the players do not desist and there is no common ground.
Any and all of the activities of human life can be studied
“as” performance (I will discuss “as” later in this chapter).
Every action from the smallest to the most encompassing
is made of twice-behaved behaviors.
What about actions that are apparently “once-behaved”—
the Happenings of Allan Kaprow, for example, or an
everyday life occurrence (cooking, dressing, taking a walk,
talking to a friend)? Even these are constructed from
behaviors previously behaved. In fact, the everydayness of
everyday life is precisely its familiarity, its being built from
known bits of behavior rearranged and shaped in order to suit
Erving
specific circumstances. But it is also true that many events
and behaviors are one-time events. Their “onceness” is a
function of context, reception, and the countless ways bits of
behavior can be organized, performed, and displayed. The
overall event may appear to be new or original, but its
constituent parts — if broken downfinelyenough and analyzed
— are revealed as restored behaviors. “Lifelike” art — as
Kaprow calls much of his work — is close to everyday life.
Kaprow’s art slightly underlines, highlights, or makes one
aware of ordinary behavior — paying close attention to how a
meal is prepared, looking back at one’s footsteps after walking
in the desert. Paying attention to simple activities performed
in the present moment is developing a Zen consciousness in
relation to the daily, an honoring of the ordinary. Honoring
the ordinary is noticing how ritual-like daily life is, how much
daily life consists of repetitions.
: Allan Kaprow (1927-2006): American artist who coined the
• term “Happening** to describe his 1959 installation/performance
• 1S Happenings in 6 Parts, Author of Assemblage, Environments and
> Happenings (1966), Essays on the Blurring of Art and life (2003, with
!• Jeff Kelley), and Childsplay (2004, with Jeff Kelley), *
restored behavior: physical, verbal> or virtual Actions that are
not-for-the-first time; that are prepared or rehearsed. A person may
not be aware that she is performing a strip of restored behavior. Also
referred to as twice-behaved behavior.
GofflTian
Defining performance
A ‘”performance” may be defined as all the activity of a given participant on a given occasion which serves to influence in
any way any of the other participants. Taking a particular participant and his performance as a basic point of reference, we
may refer to those who contribute to the other performances as the audience, observers, or co-participants. The pre-established
pattern of action which is unfolded during a performance and which may be presented or played through on other occasions
may be called a “part” or a “routine.” These situational terms can easily be related to conventional structural ones. When
an individual or performer plays the same part to the same audience on different occasions, a social relationship is likely to
arise. Defining social role as the enactment of rights and duties attached to a given status, we can say that a social role will
involve one or more parts and that each of these different parts may be presented by the performer on a series of occasions
to the same kinds of audiences or to an audience of the same persons.
1959, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 15-16
29
PERFORMANCE 5TUDIE5
There is a paradox here. How can both Heraclitus and performance takes place between the videotape of the first
the theory of restored behavior be right? Performances are performance and the reception of that first performance by
made from bits of restored behavior, but every performance both the baby-now-mother and her own baby (oranyone else
is different from every other. First, fixed bits of behavior can watching the videotape). What is true of this “home movie”
be recombined in endless variations. Second, no event performance is true of all performances. To treat any object,
can exactly copy another event. Not only the behavior itself work, or product “as” performance — a painting, a novel,
— nuances of mood, tone of voice, body language, and so on, a shoe, or anything at all — means to investigate what the
but also the specific occasion and context make each instance object does, how it interacts with other objects or beings, and
unique. What about mechanically, digitally, or biologically how it relates to other objects or beings. Performances exist
reproduced replicants or clones? It may be that a film or only as actions, interactions, and relationships.
a digitized performance art piece will be the same at each
showing. But the context of every reception makes each
instance different. Even though every “thing” is exactly the Bill Pa r e e l Is w a n t s y o u
same, each event in which the “thing” participates is different.
The uniqueness of an event does not depend on its materiality t o p e r f o r m
solely but also on its interactivity — and the interactivity is A 1939 full-page advertisement in The NewYork Times selling
always in flux. If this is so with regard to film and digitized the Cadillac Seville car features American legendary football
media, how much more so for live performance, where both coach Bill Parcells staring out at the reader (see figure
production and reception vary from instance to instance.
2.1). One of Parcells’ eyes is in shadow, the darkness blending
Or in daily life, where context cannot be perfectly controlled.
into the background for the stark large white-on-black text:
Thus, ironically, performances resist that which produces
them.
IF YOU WANT TO IMPRESS
P
Which leads to the question, “Where do performances
J take place?” A painting “takes place” in the physical object;
P A R C E L L S
B I L L
a novel takes place in the words. But a performance takes
place as action, interaction, and relation. In this regard, a
Y O U
H A V E
T O
painting or a novel can be performative or can be analyzed
“as” performance. Performance isn’t “in” anything, but
P
E
R
F
O
R
M
“between.” Let me explain. A performer in ordinary life, in a
ritual, at play, or in the performing arts does/shows
something — performs an action. For example, a mother lifts
a spoon to her own mouth and then to a baby’s mouth to show
Bill Parcells (1941- ): American football coach. Winner in 198^
and 1991 of two Superbowls with the New York Giants,
,^
the baby how to eat cereal. The performance is the action
of lifting the spoon, bringing it to mother ‘js mouth, and then
to baby’s mouth. The baby is at first the spectator of its
mother’s performance. At some point, the baby becomes a Underneath a photograph of a Seville, the text continues in
co-performer as she takes the spoon and tries the same action smaller type, “Great performers have always made a big
— often at first missing her mouth and messing up her lips impression on Bill Parcells. That explains his strong
and chin with food. Father videotapes the whole show. Later, appreciation for Seville [. . .].”
maybe many years later, the baby is a grown woman showing
The ad conflates performing in sports, business, sex, the
to her own baby a home video of the day when she began to arts, and technology. Parcells excels as a football coach. By
learn how to use a spoon. Viewing this video is another making demands upon his players he motivates them and
performance existing in the complex relation between the they respond on the field with winning performances.
original event, the video of the event, the memory of parents Parcells’ excellence derives from his drive, his ability to
now old or maybe dead, and the present moment of delight organize, and his insistence on careful attention to each
as mother points to the screen and tells her baby, “That detail of the game. His stare has “sex appeal”—his penetrating
was mdmmy when I was your age!”The first performance gaze is that of a potent man able to control the giants who
“takes place” in between the action of showing baby how to play football. He combines mastery, efficiency, and beauty.
use the spoon and baby’s reaction to this action. The second At the same time, Parcells displays an understated flash; he
30
WHAT 15 PERPORMArlCE?
3
4
5
6
7
in sports and other popular entertainments
in business
in technology
in sex
in ritual — sacred and secular
in play.
Even this list does not exhaust the possibilities (see Carlson
box). If examined rigorously as theoretical categories, the
eight situations are not commensurate. “Everyday life” can
encompass most of the other situations. The arts take as their
subjects materials from everywhat and everywhere. Ritual
and play are not only “genres” of performance but present in
all of the situations as qualities, inflections, or moods. I list
these eight to indicate the large territory covered by
performance. Some items — those occurring in business,
technology, and sex — are not usually analyzed with the
others, which have been the loci of arts-based performance
theories. And the operation of making categories such as these
eight is the result of a particular culture-specific kind of
thinking.
X
Marvi n
C a r l s o n
What is performance?
The term ^performance” has become extremely popular
in recent years in a wide range of activities in the
arts,
in literature, and in the social sciences. As its popu­
fig 2.1. Football coach Bllf Parcells in an advertisement for Cadilac
automobiles that appeared in The hew York Times in 1999. Photograplarit
h y and usage has grown, so has a complex body
courtesy of General Motors Corporation.
of writing about performance, attempting to analyze
and understand just what sort of human activity it
knows he is playing to the camera and to the crowds. All of
is. [. . J The recognition that our lives are structured
this informs the ad, which tries to convince viewers that
according to repeated and socially sanctioned modes
the Cadillac, like Parcells, is at the top of its game, sexy
of behavior raises the possibility that all human activity
and powerful, well made down to the last detail, dependable,
could potentially be considered as ‘^performance,”
the leader in its field, and something that will stand out in
or at least all activity carried out with a conscious­
a crowd.
ness of itself. [. . J If we consider performance as
an essentially contested concept, this will help us to
understand the futility of seeking some overarching
Eight kinds o f p e r f o r m a n c e
semantic field to cover such seemingly disparate usages
as the performance of an actor, of a schoolchild, of an
Performances occur in- eight sometimes separate, sometimes
automobile.
overlapping situations:
1996, Performances Critical Introduction, 4-5
1 in everyday life — cooking, socializing, “just living”
2 in the arts
31
Hi
PERFORMANCE 5TUDIE5
It is impossible to come at a subject except from the other art. Figure skating and gymnastics exist in both
one’s own cultural positions. But once I began writing this realms (see figure 2.2). Deciding what is art depends on
book, the best I could do is to be aware of, and share with the context, historical circumstance, use, and local conventions.
reader, my biases and limitations. That having been noted,
Separating “art” from “ritual” is particularly difficult. I have
designating music, dance, and theatre as the “performing noted that ritual objects from many cultures are featured
arts”may seem relatively simple. But as categories even these in art museums. But consider also religious services with
are ambiguous. What is designated “art,” if anything at all, music, singing, dancing, preaching, storytelling, speaking in
varies historically and culturally. Objects and performances tongues, and healing. At a Christian evangelical church
called “art” in some cultures are like what is made or done service, for example, people go into trance, dance in the
in other cultures without being so designated. Many cultures aisles, give testimony, receive anointment and baptism. The
do not have a word for, or category called, “art” even though gospel music heard in African-American churches is closely
they create performances and objects demonstrating a highly related to blues, jazz, and rock and roll. Are such services art
developed aesthetic sense realized with consummate skill.
or ritual? Composers, visual artists, and performers have long
made
works of fine art for use in rituals. To what realm does
Not only making but evaluating “art” occurs everywhere.
People all around the world know how to distinguish Johann Sebastian Bach’s Mass in B Minor and his many
“good” from “bad” dancing, singing, orating, storytelling, cantatas or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Mass in C Minor
sculpting, fabric design, pottery, painting, and so on. But belong? Church authorities in medieval Europe such as
what makes something “good” or “bad” varies greatly from Amalarius, the Bishop of Metz, asserted that the Mass was
place to place, time to time, and even occasion to occasion. theatre equivalent to ancient Greek tragedy (see Hardison
The ritual objects of one culture or one historical period box). More than a few people attend religious services as
become the artworks of other cultures or periods. Museums much for aesthetic pleasure and social interactivity as for
of art are full of paintings and objects that once were regarded reasons of belief. In many cultures, participatory performing
as sacred (and still may be by pillaged peoples eager to is the core of ritual practices. In ancient Athens, the great
regain their ritual objects and sacred remains). Furthermore, theatre festivals were ritual, art, sports-like competition, and
even if a performance has a strong aesthetic dimension, it is popular entertainment simultaneously. Today, sports are both
not necessarily “art.” The moves of basketball players are as live and media entertainment featuring competition, ritual,
beautiful as those of ballet dancers, but one is termed sport, spectacle, and big business.
fig 2.2. Ice skater Denise Biellmenn does a triple toe-loop as seen in a time-lapse photograph, n.d. Photograph by Alberto V/enzago. Copyright
Camera Press, London.
32
•J-lli”
SB
WHAT 15 PERPORMAMCE?
qualitatively on the basis of “form” and “difficulty.” Their
performances are more like dancing than competitions of
speed or strength. But with the widespread use of slowmotion photography and replay, even “brute sports” like
football, wrestling, and boxing yield an aesthetic dimension
that is more apparent in the re-viewing than in the swift,
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756—91): Austrian composer
tumultuous action itself. An artful add-on is the taunting and
whose vast output and range of compositions including operas,
victory displays of athletes who- dance and prance their
symphonies, and liturgical music.
superiority.
For all that, everyone knows the difference between going
to church, watching a football game, or attending one
Amalaritts of Metz (780-850): Roman Catholic bishop and j
of the performing arts. The difference is based on function,
theologian, author of several major treatises on the performance of < the circumstance of the event within society, the venue, liturgical rites, including Eclogae de ordine romano (Pastoral Dialogues on the Roman Kite) (814) and Liher officiahs (Book of the Service)and " the behavior expected of the players and spectators. There is even a big difference between various genres of the (821)/ ••' ' . • : ' • • . : • . - • ' . •; performing arts. Being tossed around a mosh pit at a rock concert is very different from applauding a performance As noted, some sports are close to fine arts. Gymnastics, of the American Ballet Theatre's Giselle at New York's figure skating, and high diving are recognized by the Metropolitan Opera House. Dance emphasizes movement, Olympics. But there are no quantitative ways to determine theatre emphasizes narration and impersonation, sports winners as there are in racing, javelin throwing, or weight emphasize competition, and ritual emphasizes participation lifting. Instead, these "aesthetic athletes" are judged and communication with transcendent forces or beings. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): German composer; choir director, and organist. His polyphonic compositions of sacred music place him among Europe's most influential composers. o o. B. H a r d i s o n r ' The medieval Mass was drama That there is a close relationship between allegorical interpretation of the liturgy and the history of drama becomes apparent the moment we turn to the Amalarian interpretations. Without exception, they present the Mass as an elaborate drama with definite roles assigned to the participants and a plot whose ultimate significance is nothing less than the "renewal of the whole plan of redemption" through the re-creation of the "life, death, and resurrection" of Christ. [... J The church is regarded as a theatre. The drama enacted has a coherent plot based on conflict between a champion and an antagonist. The plot has a rising action, culminating in the passion and entombment. At its climax there is a dramatic reversal, the Resurrection, correlated with the emotional transition from the Canon of the Mass to the Communion. Something like dramatic catharsis is expressed in the gaudium [joy at the news of the Resurrection] of the Postcommunion. C. . J Should church vestments then, with their elaborate symbolic meanings, be considered costumes? Should the paten, chalice, sindon, sudarium, candles, and thurible be considered stage properties? Should the nave, chancel, presbyterium, and altar of the church be considered a stage, and its windows, statues, images, and ornaments a "setting"? As long as there is clear recognition that these elements are hallowed, that they are the sacred phase of parallel elements turned to secular use-on the profane stage, it is possible to answer yes. Just as the Mass is a sacred drama encompassing all history and embodying in its structure the central pattern of Christian life on which all Christian drama must draw, the celebration of the Mass contains all elements necessary to secular performances. The Mass as the general, case - for Christian culture, the archetype. Individual dramas are shaped in its mold. 1965, Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages, 39-40, 79 33 PERFORMANCE 5TUDIE5 In business, to perform means doing a job efficiently with maximum productivity. In the corporate world, people, machines, systems, departments, and organizations are required to perform. At least since the advent of the factory in the nineteenth century, there has been a merging of the human, the technical, and the organizational. This has led to an increase in material wealth — and also the sense that individuals are just "part of the machine" (see figure 2.3). But also this melding of person and machine has an erotic quality. There is something sexual about high performance in business," just as there is a lot that's busi­ nesslike in sexual performance. Sexual performance also invokes meanings drawn from the arts and sports. Consider the range of meanings attached to the phrases "performing sex," "How did s/he perform in bed?" and being a "sexual performer." The first refers to the act in itself and the second to how well one "does it," while the third implies an element of either going to extremes or of pretending, of putting on a show and therefore maybe not really doing it at all. Restoration of behavior Let us examine restored behavior more closely. We all perform more than we realize. The habits, rituals, and routines of life are restored behaviors. Restored behavior is living behavior treated as a film director treats a strip of film. These strips of behavior can be rearranged or recon­ structed; they are independent of the causal systems (personal, social, political, technological, etc.) that brought them into existence. They have a life of their own. The original "truth" or "source" of the behavior may not be known, or may be lost, ignored, or contradicted — even while that truth or source is being honored. How the strips of behavior were made, found, or developed may be unknown or concealed; elaborated; distorted by myth and tradition. Restored behavior can be of long duration as in ritual performances or of short duration as in fleeting gestures such as waving goodbye. Restored behavior is the key process of every kind of performing, in everyday life, in healing, in ritual, in play, and in the arts. Restored behavior is "out there," separate from "me."To put it in personal terms, restored behavior is "me behaving as if I were someone else," or "as I am told to do," or "as I have learned." Even if I feel myself wholly to be myself, acting independently, only a little investigating reveals that the units of behavior that comprise "me" were not invented by "me." Or, quite the opposite, I may experience being "beside myself," "not myself," or "taken over" as in trance. The fact that there are multiple "me"s in every fig 2.3. Charlie Chaplin turning, and being turned by, the wheels of industry in Modern Times, 1936. The Kobal Collection. 34 WHAT 15 PERFORMANCE? person is not a sign of derangement but the way things are. was also common — and erotic. But the naked art in museums The ways one performs one's selves are connected to the ways were representations presumed to be non-erotic; and strip­ people perform others in dramas, dances, and rituals. In fact, tease was segregated and gender-specific: female strippers, if people did not ordinarily come into contact with their male viewers. The "full frontal nudity" in productions multiple selves, the art of acting and the experience of pos­ such as Dionysus in 69 (1968) or Oh! Calcutta (1972) caused session trance would not be possible. Most performances, a stir because actors of both genders were undressing in in daily life and otherwise, do not have a single author. Rituals, high-art/live-performance venues and these displays were games, and the performances of everyday life are authored sometimes erotic. This kind of nakedness was different than by the collective "Anonymous" or the "Tradition." Individuals naked bodies at home or in gymnasium shower rooms. given credit for inventing rituals or games usually turn out to be synthesizers, recombiners, compilers, or editors of already practiced actions. Restored behavior includes a vast range of actions. In fact, all behavior is restored behavior — all behavior consists of recombining bits of previously behaved behaviors. Of course, most of the time people aren't aware that they are doing any such thing. People just "live life." Performances are marked, framed, or heightened behavior separated out from just "living life"—restored restored behavior, if you will. However, for my purpose here, it is not necessary to pursue this doubling. It is enough to define restored behavior as marked, framed, or heightened. Restored behavior can be "me" at another time or psychological state — for example, telling the story of or acting out a celebratory or traumatic event. Restored behavior can bring into play non-ordinary reality as in the Balinese trance dance enacting the struggle between fig 2.4. The lion god Barong ready to do battle against the demon Rangda In Balinese ritual dance theatre, 1980s. Photograph Jim Hart, the demoness Rangda and the Lion-god Barong (see figure Director of TITAN Theatre School, Norway. . 2.4). Restored behavior can be actions marked off by aesthetic convention as in theatre, dance, and music. It can be actions At first, this art could not be comfortably categorized or reified into the "rules of the game,""etiquette," or diplomatic "placed." But it didn't take long before high-art naked "protocol" — or any other of the myriad, known-beforehand performers were accommodated in-many genres and actions of life. These vary enormously from culture to cul­ venues, from ballet to Broadway, on campuses and in store­ ture. Restored behavior can be a boy not shedding tears front theatres. Even pornography has gone mainstream, when jagged leaves slice the inside of his nostrils during a further blurring genre boundaries (see Lanham box). Of Papua New Guinea initiation; or the formality of a bride and .course, in many cultures nakedness is the norm. In others, groom during their wedding ceremony. Because it is marked, such as Japan, it has long been acceptable in certain public framed, and separate, restored behavior can be worked on, circumstances and forbidden in others. Today, no one in stored and recalled, played with, made into something else, most global metropolitan cities can get a rise out of spectators transmitted, and transformed. or critics by performing naked. But don't try it in Kabul — or As I have said, daily life, ceremonial life, and artistic life as part of kabuki. consist largely of routines, habits, and rituals: the recom­ Restored behavior is symbolic and reflexive (see Geertz bination of already behaved behaviors. Even the "latest," box). Its meanings need to be decoded by those in the know. "original/'"shocking," or "avant-garde" is mostly either a new This is not a question of "high" versus "low" culture. A sports combination of known behaviors or the displacement of fan knows the rules and strategies of the game, the statistics a behavior from a known to an unexpected context or occa­ of key players, the standings, and many other historical and sion. Thus, for example, nakedness caused a stir in the technical details. Ditto for the fans of rock bands. Sometimes performing arts in the 1960s and early 1970s. But why the the knowledge about restored behavior is esoteric, privy shock? Nude paintings and sculp tings were commonplace. to only the initiated. Among Indigenous Australians, At the other end of the "high art—low art" spectrum, striptease the outback itself is full of significant rocks, trails, water 35 PERPORMAMCE 5TUDIE5 Robert L a n h a m BurningAngel.com Known informally as alt-porn, this genre attempts embellish pornography with a hip veneer by offering soft- to hard-core erotica next to interviews with members of appropriately cool and underground bands. The form first surfaced in 2001, when the West Coast web site SuicideGirls began to offer erotic photos of young women online. Later the site added interviews of artists and celebrities (from Woody Allen to Natalie Portman to the current hot band, Bloc Party) and then soft-core videos online. Imitators like fatalbeauty.com, brokendollz.com and more than a dozen others soon followed. Joanna Angel, 24, started BurningAngel in 2002 as a hard-core alternative to such sites. L . JThefirstxxBurningAngel.com: The Movie" was released for sale online on April 1 [2005] and sells for $20. Shot on a shoestring budget of $4,000, the film, which stars Ms. Angel (her stage name), is a series of hard-core sex scenes strung together without benefit of a plot. It burnishes its hipster credentials by incorporating music by the Brooklyn band Turing Machine and Tim Armstrong of Rancid. Interviews with bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and My Chemical Romance are interspersed with the sex. u Some people make music, others paint, I make porn/7 she [Ms. Angel] said. Still, Ms. Angel is in no way a pioneer in her field; there seem to be plenty of women who, rather than struggle to get published in The Paris Review or written up in ArtNews, have instead channeled their creative ambitions into erotica. 2005, uWearing Nothing but Attitude," 15. } j j Clifford G e e r t z Human behavior as symbolic action I Once human behavior is seen as [. . . ] symbolic action - action which, like phonation in speech, pigment in painting, line in writing, or sonance in music, signifies - the question as to whether culture is patterned conduct or a frame of mind, or even the two somehow mixed together, loses sense. L . J Behavior must be attended to, and with some exactness, because it is through the flow of behavior - or more precisely, social action - that cultural forms find articulation. They find it as well, of course, in various sorts of artifacts, and various states of consciousness; but these draw their meaning from the role they play [. ." J in an ongoing pattern of life C. . J. 1973, The Interpretation of Cultures, 10, 17 .V C D C holes, and other markings that form a record of the actions of mythical beings. Only the initiated know the relationship between the ordinary geography and the sacred geography. To become conscious of restored behavior is to recognize the process by which social processes in all their multiple forms are transformed into theatre.Theatre, not in the limited sense of enactments of dramas on stages (which, after all, is a practice that, until it became very widespread as part of colonialism, belonged to relatively few cultures), but in the broader sense outlined in Chapter 1. Performance in the restored behavior sense means never for the first time, always for the second to nth time: twice-behaved behavior. Caution! Beware of generalizations I want to emphasize: Performances can be generalized at the theoretical level of restoration of behavior, but as embodied practices each and every performance is specific and differ­ 36 WHAT 15 PERPORMANCE? ent from every other. The differences enact the conventions and traditions of a genre, the personal choices made by the performers, directors, and authors, various cultural patterns, historical circumstances, and the particularities of reception. Take wrestling, for example. In Japan, the moves of a sumo wrestler are well determined by long tradition.These moves include the athletes' swaggering circulation around the ring, adjusting their groin belts, throwing handfuls of salt, eyeballing the opponent, and the final, often very brief, grapple of the two enormous competitors (see figure 2.5). Knowing spectators see in these carefully ritualized displays a centuries-old tradition linked to Shinto, the indigenous Japanese religion. By contrast, American professional wrestling is a noisy sport for "outlaws" where each wrestler flaunts his own raucous and carefully constructed identity (see figure 2.6). During the matches referees are clobbered, wrestlers are thrown from the ring, and cheating is endemic. All this is spurred on by fans who hurl epithets and objects. However, everyone knows that the outcome of American wrestling is determined in advance, that the lawlessness is play-acting — it's pretty much "all a show." Fans of sumo and fans of World Wrestling Federation matche... Purchase answer to see full attachment

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