Friday, 13 November 2015

Ternary Patterns for Insomnia @ Tramway

I don't actually believe that applying the Bateson/Goffman parameters for play is an effective way to review an event. For that matter, I don't believe that Bateson's observations of otters at the zoo were of play in the first place. I think he was watching an educational process (the otters teaching other otters to fight, or at least rehearsing it -and with a pedagogical process that human teachers could well learn from).

But I am trying to get to grips with Goffman's idea of the frame (which I think is the way in which context is recognised by a performance). So buckle up, it's round two!

A great deal of repetitiveness occurs.

Throughout Ternary Patterns for Insomnia, certain musical forms are repeated throughout the Goldberg Variations (an arrangement for string ensemble provides the soundtrack to the dances). And there are repetitions of movements, some props are re-used, including a big tube and some rope. 

However, I can't accept this as a frame for play, performance or pedagogy. It might have been different in Bateson's day, but life is pretty repetitious these days...

When more than one participant is to be involved, all must be freely willing to play...

Again, I struggle with this... it needs so much clarification. I'm dumping it, calling bullshit. This is no help at all.

Frequent role switching occurs during play, resulting in a mixing up of the dominance order found among the players...

I'm cheating by ignoring a detail, but this does free me up to comment on Ternary. At various points in the production - notably during the Aria, the musicians dance about, taking on a new - and pretty often clearly unfamiliar role. There is even a dance solo by a viola player.

In that instance, a dominance order is broken. It's a relatively subtle order, but the viola tends to hold a supporting  position in an ensemble (not only and always, mind). But then there is another break, of the musician usually being defined by their instrument.

Throughout the evening, there is plenty of cavorting by the musicians - perhaps the dancers could have had a crack on the violins at some point. The contrast between the physicality of the dancers and musicians is very evident.

The play seems to be independent of any external needs of the participants, often continuing longer than would the actual behaviour it is patterned after.

Yeah, this is thin stuff now. Time for bed.  

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