Thursday, 8 June 2017

More on Ritual

Dennis Kennedy (The Spectator and the Spectacle, 2009) is disappointing when he comes to address the matter of ritual and the spectator. Since Schechner's bold statement of inclusion in 1992, when he demanded that religious rituals be considered part of theatre studies, performance studies has attempted to draw a connection between the play and the church service, while performance art has sometimes even called itself a ritual.

Neither of these approaches has been satisfying: while individual performances have effectively been influenced by aspects of ritual, and the ritualistic aspects of earlier theatre can be observed, the reduction of ritual into a subset of performance fails to recognise the unique qualities of both sets of behaviour.

Kennedy's reflections - especially as the last chapter in a measured and intelligent post-structural analysis of audience in the modern and post-modern eras - are a shambles. His final paragraph is an agonised yelp against his refusal to pander to his mother's request that he engage with the Christian Eucharist, and between a weak engagement with a ritual performance in North Kerala, Teyyam  and an extensive ponder on the scriptural foundation of the Eucharist, Kennedy fails to apply the tentative yet rigorous intellect that marks the earlier chapters. 

He offers nothing beyond the suggestion that exploring spectatorship - and participation - in ritual demands a different, and subjective authorship, one in which the author is replaced by a multiplicity of voices and dissolves into an editorial position.

In other words, there is nothing to convince me that adding ritual to performance studies in a reductive manner is worth the effort.

No comments :

Post a Comment