Title

Polyphonic Dynamics as Educational Practice

Department

Theatre & Performance Studies

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2010

Abstract

Theatre and performance practitioners are forever seeking creative processes that foster a compelling fusion of visual and auditory theatrical signs to communicate story, character, theme, and worldview to an audience. Historically, mainstream Western theatre has privileged the dramatic (written) text as the guiding force for generating a theatrical performance. In 1931, however, aesthetician Otakar Zich questioned the traditional hierarchy of producing theatre and performance that begins with the script as a blueprint for production (Elam 5); in "The Sign in the Theatre," semiotician Tadeusz Kowzan categorized the components of theatrical performance into thirteen sign systems, viewing each as equally important (45, emphasis added); and theatre and film director Jindrich Honzl noted the "changeability" among the various sign systems in his essay "Dynamics of the Sign in the Theatre" (1940) when he wrote that "the creative forces of one factor [sign] can replace or suppress others without decreasing the strength of the dramatic effect" (269). These and other semioticians theoretically shattered the traditional hierarchy of a script-driven theatre and offered new tactics for analyzing the multiplicity of elements that comprise theatrical performances.