or On Recent Macedonian Theatrical Matters
I could have entitled this text “On the Ideal Theatre of the 21st Century”, which would have been more simple. However, by defining the theatre as ideal, I would have had to consider it from a superior position, which is not my objective. Therefore, I remain within the framework of the above title, and I will refer to the ideal theatre later, as part of the logical solution of the equation Intracultural theatre or a model of the theatre for the new millennium. In the beginning, I should explain why I use the phrase intracultural theatrical dispersion or, more precisely, the concept of dispersion, a term adopted from physics, to which I ascribe theoretically referential semantics. Starting from the idea of intraculturalism as an idea for the identification/recognition of sameness between cultures and the need not to allow its ‘globalisation’, I propose its dispersion/diffusion everywhere, and especially by the theatre, whose intraculturalism is powerful, visible and recognizable. In order not to turn this concept into a lifeless and dull admixture of more cultures, I would like to focus in this text on its dispersion and explore it further within the framework of a global constellation and contextualisation.
1. The Original Impulse or Varied Cultures/Cultural Variety and the Theatre
As in the good old fairy tales, so in out theatrology, every idea has its magic, mystical and formulaic beginning. If in the tales the matrix begins with “Once upon a time…”, then in theatrology the beginnings of the story of intracultural theatre can be discovered in the ‘exotic’ study of theatre anthropology. It is one of those numerous scholarly theatrological disciplines which, as its father Eugenio Barba would put it, provides us with a series of small and useful pieces of advice as to “how theatre is made.”
Intracultural theatre is one of the subjects or, more precisely, one of the emanations of theatre anthropology.
Provoked by the title of this conference, I chose for my subject (in coordination with theatre anthropology) a phenomenon new to scholars, called INTRACULTURAL THEATRE.
What is intraculturalism, what are its basic coordinates, how is it defined, determined and explicated? These are the questions with which my game with intraculturalism begins.
I find the motive in the need to detect, determine and explicate most of the ‘faces’ of theatre anthropology. It is found in a specific “in between” place where, according to Roland Barthes, it shares its territory with both scholarship and pleasure.
Therefore I begin my text on intracultural theatre as a game, a game which is multi-layered, multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. I do this because by playing with the idea of the culture we live in and of the art we create, a culture which is multi-cultural and, I would say, poly-cultural, we should search for its roots in game theory. In this text, the game is the model for the establishment of the theory of intraculturalism. As the prominent Dutch philosopher Johan Huizinga puts it, “the game is older than culture since, regardless of the fact that the term ‘culture’ is insufficiently varied, it always involves human society; animals did not wait for the humans to teach them how to play” (Huizinga, 2003:85). I make this digression on the game intentionally because my purpose is to clarify the explications that follow.
The theatre is a kind of game. Both the theory of the theatre and theatrology set the rules. This could be only one of the perspectives on the phenomenon of the theatrical work of art, which is in this context essential and indispensable. This text is aimed at defining the concept of intracultural theatre situated somewhere above multicultural and intercultural theatre, its potential application to the Macedonian situation, the elaboration of the idea of the ideal theatre and the possibilities for the exploration of intraculturalism in the Macedonian theatre. Although this appears to be a wide subject, I believe that it deserves more than one text in which it would be explored and elaborated.
2. Intracultural Theatre: Theoretical Explication
In order to make the approach to the concept of the intracultural theatre less elaborate, I would first like to draw attention to the basic ideas concerning the multicultural and intercultural theatres. These are the initial coordinates of the research that preceded this text. The beginning of the game involved consultations with a number of researchers of this phenomenon and authorities on this subject. The elaboration of the idea, the theory and its potential application are the result of my discussions with them and of my playing with texts, studies and books by a number of relevant authors consulted.
The game began with the essay “The Grammar of the Feet” in the collection entitled Way of Acting (1985) by the famous Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki, in which he quotes an opinion with which he himself does not agree; he gives an account of how he eventually decided to form his own troupe in which he could put into practice his ideas about the theatre. According to the opinion which he had to confront throughout his long career, in a particular period of world theatre history, plays could be performed only within homogenous cultures (and these are few, if any); according to that claim, this was due to our not being familiar with other cultures. To Tadashi Suzuki, and not only to him, but to the large family of other supporters of his idea, cultures are not homogenous, they are polyphonic.1F Polyphonic cultures contain the characteristics of the native culture from which they originate, but are consumed only as a whole and therefore sound as a polyphony in which the chaos of polysemy is replaced by an order of links between cultures, i.e., with interculturalism. In order to alleviate the theoretical explication of the intracultural theatre I take as my point of departure Suzuki’s opinion that it is not important to perform plays for homogenous cultures, but that it is of vital importance to explore all these cultures so that they can become our and familiar, and not unknown and strange.
The investigation of most of the cultures that are in our focus from the aspect of artistic creation, theoretical elaboration and their dissemination into theatrical works of art can be carried out from a number of perspectives, such as those of multiculturalism, interculturalism, transculturalism, intraculturalism, etc.
In one of the dictionaries of theatrical theory intraculturalism is defined as a specific philosophical and aesthetic perspective of the system of culture which involves the inclusion and activation of various cultures within a single concept. Unlike multiculturalism, it is a condition in which various cultures must, of necessity, come in touch. (www.mactheatre.edu.mk/Novi prilozi/Rečnik na teorisko-teatrološki termini /interkulturalnost).
1. I first encountered the term polyphonic culture in an interview with Edward Said (Orientalism,The World, the Text and the Critic, Musical Elaborations) in which, replying to the question concerning one of Peter Brook’s productions, he says that it was a performance based on the concept of polyphonic cultures. I believe that this term is more than welcome for the objective of my text. Its beginning can be sought in Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, where he discusses tragedy in the context of polyphonic cultures.