Thursday, 4 September 2014

More Methodology (Glasgow School)

Radical Subjectivity was evolved as a way to discuss individual works - a rejection of the faux-objectivity of traditional popular criticism which, perhaps inadvertently, appears as an objective categorisation of a work’s value. 

In recent years, the validity of star ratings has occupied the Fringe, with major companies, including self-styled ‘King of the Fringe’ Guy Masterson Productions campaigning through the Facebook group, Forum for Abolishment of Review Stars at Edfringe. Arguing that a star rating is perceived as an absolute value, they emphasised its subjectivity and worried about the value of a review during the Fringe, when the rating system was often the victim of ‘star inflation.’ 

Against this, radical subjectivity  pitches itself as part of a dialogue with other critiques and artists. However, its primary concern is the performance itself. Fortunately, recent studies - especially on the role of the audience in theatre - have opened up the site of critique beyond the stage. 

The Festival is a Theatrical Event (ed. Cremona, Eversmann, van
Maanen, Sauter & Tulloch, 2004: pp 91-109) provides a rationale for selecting larger areas of endeavour as a 'performance text' following De Marini's assertion that the text is 'a performance unit which the analyst's intention... designates as semiotically complete.’ 

This might appear to simply justify a decision with ‘because I said so,’ but in the context of the hermeneutical spiral, it becomes a makeshift platform for discussion which makes no claims to objectivity or definitive analysis. It is merely a staging post in the ongoing journey.

The shift from the position of critic into the curator of opinions is equally challenging. My questionnaire model of investigation, inspired by Iser’s statement that  'central to the reading of every literary work is the interaction between its structure and the recipient' (ed. Counsell & Wolf, 2001: p179), invites stakeholders to reflect on the dialogue between their practice and the Glasgow environment. 

Surveys have been more commonly used to determine demographics of audiences:  Bennett's Theatre Audiences quotes Baumol and Bowen's 1966 study in her discussion of the composition of theatre audiences, which identified a homogeneity of class, education and income across audiences in the USA and UK (Bennett, 1997: p87) – and Throsby and Wither's 1979 The Economics of the Performing Arts, which discovered Baumol and Bowen's findings were replicated across English speaking countries. 

Capturing the Audience Experience (ITC, 2005) offers an approach to go beyond recording statistics and engage with emotional responses. Following Olsen (Olsen, 2002: p263), a limited number of questions are posed ('with few options so the response is higher') to a large number of people which allows, as described in ITC 2005 a meaningful statistical analysis.

Bennett observes that there is an 'ethnogenic' approach to collating this kind of information across a group: 'based on the premise that the group is more than a number of individuals, but is instead a 'supra-individual, having a distinctive range of properties'' (Bennett, 1997: p90). It is these properties that might open up for an analysis of Glasgow performance as a discrete entity. 

No comments :

Post a Comment