The theatrical transculturalism
Although I consider that is already clear, I will here repeat that the transcultural theatrical work must not be identified with all of that which in theatre is known as a realization of a postmodern character; and I’m pointing here at the multicultural productions and the experimental theater at all, although it’s true, transculturalism as a phenomenon belongs exactly to this theatre.
A determined number of theatrical artists have succeeded in transmitting a determined (foreign) cultural tradition into their own theatrical tradition, leaving at the same time visible the difference between cultural identities13F, although it would rather causally be said than intentionally. If their source idea would be the creating of a, let’s say, general human culture, or rather, a presentation of all of that, after many efforts, would remain as kind of a basic system of the general human culture (at least as a kind of idea that is worth thinking of), then, seen from the scientific perspective, this effort had been useless.
Namely, the culture, the motivation and the habitus of a nation are its specificity in its wholesome being. What I have determined as a wholesome human culture would be intended as a situation or rather a discussion around the question of the specific way of living of the human being (which is different from how the other living beings live – here we would face a whole sea of unclearness; as for example, with that in which competention will be the analysing of such a large problem, with the fact whether such a problem is important for the theatrical practice), nevertheless, in any of the cases wouldn’t allow a determination towards the way of a incorporation to such a convicing which would in turn prejudice the existence of culture outside the paradigm of the motivations. Treated in the frames of this paradigm, I am convinced that culture cannot be determined as something general, not in the least as something external. The wholesomeness in this case, would have better be determined as a try which wants to expose the specific as well as the universal truth, aimed at getting the various societal trends closer – not as an effort or a try that would offer an intercultural communication, but an effort, which would give a presence, which could be aesthtically thought of.
Let’s leave science aside for a moment, and let’s discuss about the two following statements which are directly in connection with the theatrical practice. If we really want to tell what transculturalism presupposes in the theatrical practice, I consider that an analytical approach would explain things better. Some examples of the practice would best enlighten the mentioned phenomenon, and would better analyze the doubts connected with it.
First I’ll talk about the transcultural examples about which – if they’re taken into account the dinstictive featurs of the mentioned postmodern conceptions, in the way I have tried to expose her – it could be confirmed that they are on the borderline with syncretism and they are interfered with it. Then, through the conception of aculturation I’ll analyze the strickter transcultural examples in the frames of the theatre practice. This procedure can by one hand be read as a demonstration of the way of development of – let’s call it – authentic transculturalism, and by the other hand, as a confirmation of the fact that in the example of the phenomenon called theater, the clear dinstictive features of some of the conceptions are important, but when the same ones are being applied or are asked for in the practice, they have to run through adoptions, although even then, they can remain in their authentic context.
a) Between tranculturalism and syncretism (transculturalism as a deconstruction and a new construction)
One of the oldest examples of this kind of theater transculturalism is the theater of old Rome. Namely, Plautus, Terenthius, and the other dramatists take up The New Comedy of the Greek tradition and they see their own society through the prospective of this taken (adopted) paradigm. It is clear that they do exactly that which later will be called tranculturization. Even more than that, in the same way in which Plautus and Terenthius cope with the works of the Greek tradition, the authors of the Reinesance Euripide Comedy cope with the works of the Roman dramatists. They develop their own plots and characters according to the Roman dramatic model. In both cases, the works get a new and a different shape from the shape that belongs to the old (original) model. This model is being combined with the domestic culture and becomes a part of its tradition.
Even Brecht’s work is an example of this kind of transculturalism. This author collects various materials from various cultures and interprets them (decomposes and composes again) in his own way. He adopts, but also decomposes dramaturgical models from the Elizabethan drama, the traditional Indian theater, the Japanese no theatre, uses the motives and the structures of the American novels and Russian novels, takes then up the acting of the early Hollywood films and of the actors-dancers of the Peking opera14F.
As a matter of fact, he purposely changes up and collects of these elements. This is the way that he succeeds to give his source theory of the Epical Theatre. We can learn out of this that that entire bunch of “other” writings in Brecht’s theatre, has never had the intention to become a literal picture of the societies which these writings have been part of. All of these sources have been deconstructed in order then to be, coded in another ideological or referntial context. “The other” tradition is taken up if it is considered that the same one can be successfully worked out, if something new can be created in it – something that shall be equally distanced of the adopted and of the domestic. What Brecht does is not a simple planting of the “own” contents into the structure of “the other”, but it is also an intervention in the “own” model. And only because of that, the Herbrew emigrant succeeds to deconstruct “the other” texts, today the theory of the theatre transculturalism speaks of the following: even the new results can again be regulated, if they’re worked out on the basis of those codes which are authentic to the domestic culture. And when the new text will be created, then the old one will disappear or in the new text, or as well in a new tecnique, in that new that does even have an identity, form and contents15F.
If the dinstinctive features of the mentioned conceptions are taken into account, the way I have exposed them here, these examples taken from the theatre practice are as transcultural as mush syncretic. And that they are not syncretic in the authentic sense of the word, the element of aculturation placed in the midst of the told efforts can tell us. As to remember that the aculturation is a transmitting of the culture of one ethnic group to the other ethnic group. And if the exposed examples tell that they are transcultural because they are a reflection of the deconstruction of the text, or better of the code, of the change of its meaning and its moving to a new historical and societal meaning, the same ones, by the other hand, will prove that are not syncretic if they tell that the foreign ideology, th.i. also “the other” code, is registered to a domestic ideolgy. That is as matter of fact the core of the acculturation. If we place on the other hand acculturation in the same ground with the transculturation, the same one will signify the desire for a acculturation (as a acquisition and a accomodation), and transculturalism will establish the authentic deeming for a transculturation (like in trascedence and transformation). However it may be, it is important that aculturation is a visible sign of the more specific and more rigid examples of the theatre transculturalism.
13. Seen from this aspect, the conception transculturalism would have better be substituted with the conception actulturation. Aculturation or aculturization in this context would signify the moving of culture from the given ethnic group into another. For further details concerning this, in the following lines of this paper.
14. Here we should above all mention the influence of Mei Lan Fang and his performing of the roles in the Beijing opera.
15. Some examples of the theatre of the 20-th century tell us about certain important aspects of this process. Here is the Russian ballet of Djagiljev, and in the frames of that ballet is the scenery and costumes, which have been created by Baxst, Goncaroca and Larionov. They use colours and shapes of the Russian Folklore and some Asiatic provinces of Russia. The theatres of the West and Scandinavia then have used these new elements, but not as a copy of the Russian model, but as their own view of the same model.