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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 09 | volume II | June-July, 1999



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 09June-July, 1999
Theatre Theory

Training Interculturally

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p. 1
Richard Shechner

    What is training for? I think of five functions that do not always exist separately. They overlap. In North America we train performers so they can interpret dramatic texts. That is a Euro-American cultural need. For this job of interpreting of a variety of texts from many periods in different styles you want flexible performers, people who can play Hamlet one day, Gogo the next, and Willie Loman the day after. Training to do this means that the performer is not the primary author or guardian of the text. He is the transmitter. And you want a transmitter to be transparent, as clear as possible.
    The second function of training is to make the performer into one who transmits a 'performance text'. The performance text is the whole multi-channel process of communication that makes up a performative act. In some cultures, in Bali and Japan, for example, the notion of a performance text is very clear. No Drama does not exist as a set of words which are then interpreted by actors. No Drama exist as a set of words inextricably woven into music, gesture, dance, methods of recitation, and costuming. We must look at No not as the realisation of a written text but as a total performance text, where during portions of the performance non-verbal components are dominant.
    These performance texts – No, Kathakali in India, classical ballet – exist as networks of behaviour rather than as verbal communications. It is not possible to translate performance texts into written texts. All attempts at 'notation' can be only partly successful. Training for the transmission of performance texts is fundamentally different than training for the interpretation of dramatic texts.
    The third function of training – not too well known in Euro-American culture but very well known in Native America, Japan, and elsewhere – is the preservation of secret knowledge. Methods of performing are the valuable and they belong to specific families or groups who guard their secrets carefully. To be selected for training is to gain access to esoteric, powerful, closely-guarded knowledge. This gives performance a power.Training is knowledge, knowledge is power. Training is the link to the past, to the other worlds of reality, to the future. And for a person to have access to performance knowledge is both a special privilege and a dangerous risk. It's not advertised, offered for sale at schools, of freely written up in books.
    This is the






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