The Theatrical Event discusses the objectives of theater studies by focusing on the communicative encounter between performer and spectator - the theatrical event. A theatrical event includes the presentation of a performance and the attention of an audience; in this sense, every performance - on stage or in the street, historical or contemporary - that is watched by an audience is a theatrical event. The concept underlines the "eventness" of all encounters between performers and spectators.
In the first part of the book, Willmar Sauter presents various models for the analysis of theatrical events, examining the relationship between performance and perception and the interaction between the performative event and its context. Using examples from ancient and recent theater history, and discussing traditional and nontraditional approaches to theater theory, he builds a paradigmatic change in the concept of theater. Constructs such as playing culture (as opposed to written culture), theatrical communication, theatricality, and theater as a model of cultural event are brought into focus and their methodological advantages explored.
The second part of the book uses the theoretical groundwork of the first part to enhance a variety of topics, including such legends as Sarah Bernhardt and other historical phenomena, such as a Swedish Renaissance play, Strindberg's ideas on acting, the question of ethnicity in the political theater of the 1930s, and critical writings on contemporary performances. Sauter examines how Robert Lepage's staging of A Dream Play is viewed by critics and scholars and analyzes Dario Fo's intercultural transfer to outdoor performances in Stockholm and the unusual sensationalism of Strindberg's Miss Julie.
"The Theatrical Event is promising and useful, perhaps the most useful conceptualization of the theatrical process available." (Janelle Reinelt, University of California, Davis, and former editor of Theatre Journal)
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Historical rant on scandinavian theatre.
Would think twice before reading a Willmar Sauter book.
Most of the book conveys little information about a theatrical event except the anecdotal unproven quips by the author. The author suggests that he is going to be scientific and take a psychological approach to analysing a theatrical event but does not deliver. Instead we hear opinion, praise of certain actors, plays and discussion over government funding of theatre.
What was I expecting? A discussion of the theatrical event and then discussions around the psychology of how a theatrical event works (eg: group think, anonymity, ego, association, influence, charm, suspension of belief), how the techniques are used in theatre and how a theatrical event has developed over time.