New ways to drama

We have all gone to see and hear plays on the stage, and recently the variation has been great in expression, techniques and themes. Some times the actors move into the audience, some times they engage the audience in debate and other action. Music, film and dance can be used – the diversity is great.

Street artists have recently added to diversity – painting, acting, playing music improvised in the streets. Artist’s books are also part of developments where the publication of a book, often as a single volume in huge format or as a scroll may be the production. Limits are being forced all over the place.

But the basic premise is often there: a house with a stage, actors, technicalities, audience. Tradition is that we want a fully produced show that we easily can understand. This may be changing now: Performance is coming to you.

The performance artists are different – they have no respect for what has been. Some started as actors, some are painters or authors, but they seek new dramaturgy: new ways to form and communicate the message. They use dialogue, provocation, disturbance, involvement, bizarre happenings, many techniques. They perform in the streets, in shopping centers, up in a tree. Language is mostly the main ingredient.

The staging is often minimalistic, just a bare stage, a street, a place, hardly any light, few words, more like hints.

There is no explanation: You see, hear and start thinking as a set of thoughts is introduced, it is up to you what you make of it – it is all in your own mind. The premise is that people are intelligent – they can think for themselves.

Maybe the performance made new thoughts start to spin in your mind? Or you went away disappointed – you did not fathom a thing?

We had Dada and surrealism, now we have performance with no limits. Put your mind to it – let it enrich your life – don’t be angry if you don’t understand – just think harder. Remember also that sometimes performance is great fun – if you will.

Try it in practice: Dramatikkens Hus, Oslo, Norway.

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