In this class our performers will be Danielle, who will recite a poem by T.S. Eliot, and Matt.

At this point our trajectory collides with performance studies, a relatively new discipline largely based on a new conception of performance that includes not just “theatrical” performance but performances in many contexts, in people’s daily lives. This approach to the study of performance developed in large part as a response to performance art, which emerged as a genre in the 60s and 70s, because of artists like Joseph Beuys, Carolee Schneeman, Vito Acconci, and Allan Kaprow, who invented the “happening” and was one of the founders of the Fluxus group of artists.

We’ll start with an essay about “Nontheatrical Performance” by Allan Kaprow, in which he discusses some “happenings” and also their relationship to the text or score. This is taken from Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life.

Then please read this short excerpt from Richard Schechner’s Between Theater and Anthropology in which he defines “restored behaviour.” Schechner was a founder of the Performance Studies program at NYU and is considered a chief progenitor of performance studies in general.

Finally, here’s a chapter (“Acting in Everyday Life and Everyday Life in Acting“) from Victor Turner’s From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play, in which he talks about the relationship between performance in social drama (ie. “real life”) and cultural performance (ie. “on stage”). Turner was a cultural anthropologist, and his work was very influential on Schechner, who came more from a theatre background.

Here are a couple of performances to consider. Laurie Anderson is a very famous performance artist whose career has included elements of writing, performance, and music. This piece, “Language is a Virus,” plays off an idea conceived by William S. Burroughs, and questions the distinction between the performance piece and “normal” speech (just as Derrida did in “Signature Event Context”).

And now for something (more or less) completely different. Reverend Billy might be called an activist who uses performance art to convey a message:

Here’s a trailer for a documentary about Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping:

I thought it would interesting in connection to our discussion of performative speech acts to think about Reverend Billy’s performances as deliberate attempts to make things happen, how activism can be thought of as a kind of performative speech act. In the perlocutionary incident recorded in this video, just saying certain words (in this case, the words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) in a certain context (in a public square surrounded by police) leads to a certain new state of affairs (he is arrested).

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  1.   jaygwelsh

    While reading through the articles and watching the video clips, I noticed that there are a lot of connections drawn between the theatre and the church. Turner mentions in “From Ritual” about the beginnings of drama in Western civilization, and how the Catholic Church’s rituals – such as the Eucharist and the Easter mass – evolved into a literature in their own right, including passion plays and the sort(Turner, 103). And in “Nontheatrical Performance”, Kaprow talks about the importance of repetition and how practice makes perfect in the performance; simply repeating a ritual over and over is more than sufficient to bring together all of the participants – as seen, for example, when the congregation comes together for prayer and songs. Not only that, but ritual succeeds in making the concept linger on in our memory (Kaprow, 165). And in Schechner’s “Restoration of Behavior” he brings up the concept of restored behavior – behavior that has been manipulated and edited since its origin to become something entirely different – and how that’s present in events such as “shamanism…exorcism…[and] trance” (Schechner, 35).

    With all of this in mind, I can’t help but agree a bit on the connection. It certainly makes sense. Aside from the occasional shakeup in the Catholic Church, for example, the rituals have been largely unchanged for hundreds of years. You can call it perfect or stagnant, but we can’t deny that repeating the same rituals for hundreds of years leaves us committed to Schechner’s so-called restored behaviors: we are doing rituals simply for the sake of doing rituals. We see that in Communion, where we reenact the Last Supper and transubstantiation and all of that. The original event mattered to whoever performed it originally, but it has since become an empty act. What can that be today other than a performance (and a finely-honed one at that)?

    Using religion as a segue, I have to say I found the videos rather interesting within that context. Burroughs’ “Language is a Virus” seemed to have traces of a church mass about it; the performance itself had sermon overtones and the backup vocals sounded reminiscent of a church choir. And then there’s Reverend Billy…I’ve heard of this guy before (the movie “What Would Jesus Buy?” is actually sitting in my Netflix queue because I like the director Morgan Spurlock). If we needed some smoking gun for the theatre-church connection, Billy’s that. He’s such an exaggerated Bible Belt preacher that it just has that theatrical air about it.

    On a final note, I suppose I might as well pose a question. When I was watching Reverend Billy, I was reminded of Stephen Colbert. Colbert’s persona as a faux conservative pundit is satire at its finest; some conservatives have unknowingly-praised Colbert for his words while those in the know get a laugh out of Colbert’s jokes. Could we say that Reverend Billy himself is being satirical as well? At what point does the performance stop being a reenactment and more of a speech act, with a deeper intent and purpose? Or are both one and the same? It’s such a slippery discussion that it’s hard to figure out what’s an act and what’s sincerity. I fear I may be confusing myself. Perhaps that’s the point of theatre. After all, Turner says that entertainment is the limbo between reality and fantasy; it “fantasized reality even while it realizes fantasy.” (Turner, 121)

    -James Welsh

    P.S. As for Reverend Billy being arrested for reading the First Amendment, I find that both ironic and sensible. As much as he has a right to say what he said, that doesn’t mean he can use a bullhorn to do it. It reminds me of people who play that stupid “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you” game where they wave their hands around someone and just being a simple nuisance.

  2.   nmatth01

    This might seem odd, but the entire time I was reading the articles and watching the Reverend Billy videos I couldn’t help but think of Sacha Baron Cohen, or his myriad personalities: Ali G, Borat, and Bruno. While Cohen is certainly acting to a certain degree, he is also using his performance in these various guises to expose a multitude of prejudices and ignorance.

    What I’m trying to distinguish between is the notion of “separate” performances. Is performance studies based on the acknowledgment of performances outside of the theater as legitimate; such as everyday occurrences being a performance, or an act of restorative behavior? It seems odd to distinguish between the two, because I suppose in some sense, everything can be boiled down to a performance of sorts; work, school, religion, relationships. Not to detract from the authenticity of any of these establishments, but there certainly are roles being played, rules adhered to, and boundaries established— while not always on display for the whole world to see on a stage, there is a performative element apparent none the less.

    Agreeing with what James was saying before, religion is very obviously a performance based medium that is chock full of dated rituals. I suppose the real purpose of Performance Studies is to question why these acts are being performed, and to what end are they attempting to achieve.

  3.   alee909

    In the ‘Non-Theatrical Performance’ article, Kaprow says that ‘not even intentional watchers could have experienced this drama or references without literally opening and closing a car truck 750 times. . .’ This just made me think about the ‘performance’ of ‘knowing’ something. We ‘perform’ such confident ‘acts’ of knowledge, persuasion, and criticism on topics that we’ve gained knowledge of by various means, whether it’s reading literature, watching TV, etc. . . Maybe some examples are professors who are ‘experts’ in their area of study and people who argue about politics. Not bashing them by any means, a lot of them are brilliant people; but I have a weird feeling that I can’t quite articulate about the foundations of these types of ‘performances.’

    Another comment – pg 167 of the same article – Kaprow seems to make the kind of assumption that we like to question when he says that the primary message is writing and the secondary, ‘normally unconscious’ message is the blowing of the nose. If we’re in this theoretical mode, who is he to say which one is primary or secondary and which actions is conscious or unconscious?

    To respond to Nick and Jay’s comments about the rituals in church, I wouldn’t say that they’ve become an empty act — I’m definitely not an expert and don’t have knowledge of ‘all’ the rituals, but, to Christians, Communion is an extremely significant and critical ritual as a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice and the newfound life that is had as a result of Christ’s death and resurrection. So it’s very important as a performative act.

  4.   coreyfrost

    This is great: James, your point about the overlap of performance and religion is important, and Nick, I thought you were spot on with your analysis of Sacha Baron Cohen. I also want to highlight a couple of things Andrei wrote: first, I liked that you were asking some questions of the Kaprow article that were based on your “weird feeling” that you couldn’t quite articulate. I think it’s important to follow those sorts of hunches. You ask, “who is he to say which one is primary or secondary and which actions is conscious or unconscious?” Good question, and my immediate answer would be that in this case, both are conscious, aren’t they? Isn’t that what makes it a performance? Or is it possible to be performing without even realizing that you’re doing so? Or maybe it’s not either/or: maybe there are degrees of consciousness when it comes to performance. But normally when we blow our noses we do it out of necessity, not because we want to convey a message or demonstrate something to someone else…

    Which sort of ties in to my second comment, which is that you are totally right that a performative act is not necessarily an “empty” act. On the contrary, to say that something is performative is to say that it has meaning, in a way. So I hope you will all avoid thinking that calling a religious ceremony a performance is somehow dismissive or belittling . A wedding, for example, as we discussed last week, is a kind of performance because it is a ritual; it has a script. This doesn’t take away from its importance to the people involved.

    This point is related to speech act theory, by the way: Austin insisted that performative speech acts involve “simply saying the words,” which is not the same thing as “simply going through the motions” (ie. being insincere). To marry someone, what you have to do is say some words, regardless of how you feel inside. You could be head-over-heels in love or secretly appalled at the way your life has turned out, but if you say the right words in the right circumstances, you are married. Sincerity is a separate issue.

    We should also be careful about using terms like “legitimate” in differentiating kinds of performance: legitimate to whom? For what purposes? In other words, we should approach this rethinking of “performance” with a neutral attitude. A play is a performance, a wedding is a performance, as is a lecture, a museum, a reality TV show, a trial, or the speech of the guy asking for money on the subway—which, again, does not mean that the guy is necessarily insincere about needing the money. You can be sincere and still be involved in a performance. “Performance,” in brief, should not be taken as an evaluative term, either negative or positive.

  5.   coreyfrost

    By the way, everyone, check out my post on the front page about the poetry slam next week, and check your calendars. I hope some of you will be able to join our field trip.

  6.   srogers101

    How Decontextualized Performance Made(?) me a Racist.

    Just to throw out some expository information, my boss is both rich and overweight. I am unsure which gluttony led to which. Whether he was overweight initially and this desire to consume eventually manifested in financial success or if the financial success plateaued to the point where consumption fell to food as drugs and alcohol could severely affect the initially achieved financial success. Regardless of sequence this state of affairs means he can make me go retrieve lunch in exchange for a version of financial independence (which if he were to have to experience again could and probably would lead to self-harm) and some health benefits (in case I fall out of the store and land face first on some really hot food). The entropic part of this seemingly simple barter system of food procurement (among other things) for money and health benefits is that he is incredibly particular in that three year old I hate cauliflower because it’s weird kind of way except that he’s rich and no longer has to do without as punishment for rejecting the wholesome goodness of cauliflower. So this has made a version of me in food proprietors all across the 516 look neurotic and at the point of paranoia one usually needs an excess of psilocybin to fully experience. I do try to maintain some sense of self hood by making my glances furtive and innocuous so as to seem unsure of where to look as opposed to making sure tomatoes do not end up on the sandwich. If eye contact is made I wear the most detached of smiles so as to stifle any thoughts that could be building in their head as they prepare the lunch. This is done for two reasons: one being that I don’t want to look like “that guy” which really shouldn’t happen for another 30 or 40 years after bitter conclusions have been drawn about my own existential futility and two because I really don’t want the person behind the counter distracted from an order in need of delicate this shit could blow any second care. Now that I’ve exhausted my own tolerance for irony I’ll get to the point of how I found out I am a racist. System 1 is my job. This job is happy when the boss is happy. The boss is happy when he eats a well prepared lunch. System 2 is the (today anyway) pizzeria. They make a balsamic chicken with lettuce and tomatoes and if asked will produce a cup of vinaigrette and a cup of balsamic on the side. The woman who handles my boss’ order specifically is Rosa. She is nice and efficient and requires little worry on my end. This system can operated without Rosa for a given time as it is unaware and disinterested in the utopian felicity it can deliver by treating system 1 well. So the issue today was Rosa was missing and behind the counter was a Spanish guy with a surfeit of lubricious hair tied back in a ponytail and an older Italian guy enjoying the twilight of his disinterested hair follicles left spiked in vain denial. Now each one is capable of taking this order and if I were simply ordering for myself I would’ve met the Spanish guy’s eye contact with that bullshit smile I use in public to make sure everyone knows I mean super well and that I’m really glad to have the opportunity to be served by you. But I was not ordering for myself as I was conducting the clandestine performance of work guy that needs to make sure this shit is correct as opposed to private guy that would still tip a pretty crappy waiter (the financial punctuation of that weak ass smile). So then the question is do I, the whole composite I here now as work guy not trust this Spanish guy to take this order as the circumstances have grown more grave or do not trust him because I am a form of language used by my boss to communicate that Spanish guy is most likely out of the running (which is unfair to boss as I do not know this to be his preference but it is also a problem for me as I will be interpreted as distinct from my boss and the failure to allow people of all shapes and sizes to prepare balsamic chicken will fall on me). Now of course I left the eye contact Spanish guy made with me to find Italian guy as that was who I really needed for this operation all along. Despite the hyperbolic performance of apologizing so as to be overheard by Spanish guy as this “was for my boss” which again was apologizing for my dismissal of Spanish guy (which may have not even been noticed) as well as hoping to endear the server to me as a fellow middle class guy trying to make in this crazy world etc etc and to inevitably use that as an empathetic point of motivation to make the balls out of that sandwich. But I’m still curious as to how much it was the context of performance that made me racist or how much it was really me that’s racist (northeastern liberal guilt rationalizations aside).

  7.   nahmed

    When Professor Frosts says that we can see “Reverend Billy’s performances as deliberate attempts to make things happen, how activism can be thought of as a kind of performative speech act” I think he’s absolutely right! Although I’m sure activists are very passionate about their beliefs and when they are out there rallying and such, they are very loud. However, I’m also sure that it is a performance as well, they know that their cause is out there…being watched therefore they have to put on a show, be dramatic. This clearly applies to others in the religious workers, not only Reverend Billy. I mean, no offense but if a priest is giving the same sermon for 3 different services, how can be possibly be that passionate for all 3 services?

    On Nick’s comment about Sacha Baron Cohen – that man is a comedic genius! I was in awe of his first movie Borat because I loved how he used his performance to unveil so many racist issues.

    When discussing restored behavior, I found it very interesting that Turner brings to light the theory that the origins of the behaviors (that’s being continued) are completely unknown. So in some instances, these rituals are not only being done just for the sake of “doing it”, but some don’t even know WHY they are doing it! It’s amazing how after reading this piece, I started thinking of so many things that my family does that is restored behavior. I especially loved Turner’s example of the blushing bride. It reminds me of my little wedding ceremony. In Indian weddings, the bride is supposed to look down the whole time, be shy…and be emotional. As I was coming out to sit in the appropriate seat, they were taking pictures and I couldn’t help but to smile throughout the wedding. All the old school Indian people kept telling me “you’re supposed to be sad, and be shy”. They were expecting a performance from me, one I could not deliver because I’m not shy, nor was I sad. On that note I believe Turner was right when he states ” It can be put on the way a mask or costume is” when discussing restored behaviors.

  8.   Najila

    After reading some of the comments and rescanning Turner’s line about acting being an “essence of sincerity” or an “essence of pretence” (102) it did make me think of Cobert and Cohen respectively. For some reason Cohen always irked me with the way he went about with his performance whereas I’ve always respected and admired Cobert’s performance. I was never able to pinpoint why I had such polar feelings toward each actor but perhaps it has to do with their “metacommentaries” as mentioned in Turner’s piece. They are both active mirrors but I feel that Cobert does a better job of being subtle about it whereas Cohen forces the stereotypes and ignorance out of people, thus creating the drama for amusement. Cobert plays into what our society sees how a conservative is but Cohen exaggerates his persona. Reverend Billy, on the other hand, is almost in the middle of this whole thing. He’s is putting a performance but it’s perhaps made it a part of his life. His loud voice, his emphasis in his speech, his active face and hand gestures is everything we recognize in other evangelists. This is his restored behavior.

    Also, just to note on what Nahmed wrote, my culture is the same way when it comes to the blushing bride. However, one thing that I noticed changing with the times in my community is the interaction between boys and girls/men and women. The way that marriage works, even if the guy and girl have been secretly dating for years on end, in most cases, once they decide to get married, they must make up an “acceptable” story of how they met and how long they have known each other. Meeting at a club or a chatroom translates into meeting at a religious event, or being introduced by friends/family members and dating for 5 years turns into “talking” for 5 months with a chaperon. It’s all a fixed behavior and just as Schechner writes, it’s one that the rest of the people in the community agrees to believe and do as well. We’re told a story, we know it’s a lie, but smile and nod and croon how nice fate is. It becomes a necessity for the community to function as a whole as it comes to terms with the change in times and the blending of and old culture and new culture.

  9.   Joshua Lindenbaum

    If opening and shutting a car trunk 750 times is considered “raw,” then serve my art well-done. I don’t understand these types of get-togethers or “Happenings. I do understand sponatneuos art that is not held down by conventions such as: an audience, time frame, sponsors’ influences and so on. But at the same time, I don’t see the point of running over plates. I do agee that many artists are hampered. For example, how many albums do you see with 30 songs or 3 songs? You don’t. Artists are pressured by their sponsors to meet the norms of the record industry.

    I guess I ambiguos about this whole matter of nonart and art. By this writer’s definition everything is a performance. Art can be considered anything.

    This writer and austin would have a philosophical orgy if they ever got together. It’s just weird to think of something as common as being a student — a performance. By that logic, working at Burger King is a performance. Buying something at Burger King is a performance.

    But there is something to say about these absurd performances bringing people together. As we grow older we stop playing roles and become roles. Maybe, it would be fun once in a while to get togther in a group, and make sounds in the middle of the street regardless if there is an audience present or not.

    Maybe keeping track of how many times one uses the clutch or the gas is not so crazy. Maybe definitions are our attempt to convince ourselves that we understand the world we live in. Maybe this is just a rant. Maybe this too . . . is a performance!

  10.   mmullin1

    I just want to say off the bat that I think I am going to be Reverend Billy for Halloween. In relation to the topic of performance and restored behavior the videos really helped me along with the texts while I was reading. What Rev. Billy does looks like a complete act, to me. I mean I do not know anything about him, but it looks -from the videos- like when he is not trying to “perform”, he is probably a jerk who thinks he is a celebrity. Having the ability to “restore behavior”, like Schechner explained puts you in a different position than people who are unable or unaware of the ability. Recreating various feelings, emotions, and circumstances is a skill to me because no one can ever really know when you are seriously genuine in what you say. Now I am not saying this is a good or a bad thing, simply commenting on the anbility.

    The first video, Language is a virus, had me wondering about the seriousness or relevance of it. The way they would have phrases used by society in the background for every letter of the alphabet had me thinking that the song was making a mockery of the repetition used in language. Certain lyrics about a guy asking if the conversation he was having was a performance or genuine was when I started to actually enjoy the song.(not going to lie, I was cracking up at the beginning of it) But then at the end, I liked how the camera man came into the picture because it was almost an intentional mocking of their mockery, if that makes sense at all.

    Back to Rev Billy, I think he didn’t deserve to get arrested. Maybe a ticket for distrubing the peace, but to arrest the guy for performing the first ammendment. His other “performances” were outrageous though. They all seemed so fake but obviously people (like Prof. Frost!) buy into all of it. (haha) The way he owns his craft is admirable though; the guy appears to be genuine but then again, that’s the power if performing.

  11.   dsykes

    In his analysis of nontheatrical art, Kaprow attempts to define nontheatrical performance as that which is executed by performers that are indifferent to validation within the art world and are complacent with the act as non-artistic. Although I appreciated the case studies on experimental nontheatrical performances, and found them enlightening and charming, Kaprow proceeded to define nontheatrical performance in a manner that is based upon scrutinizing our perception of conventional art, with recognizable modes and contexts. Although I understand that he felt this the most effective manner to explain the concept, I felt as through his explanation of the “constraints” we have in our definition of art worked to denigrate art with recognizable modes and contexts in his glorification of the enlightened nontheatrical performance.

    Kaprow redeems himself through explaining that he would like to conceive of performance as inquiry so that we may “begin to consider and act upon substantaive questions about consciousness, communication and culture without giving up membership in the profession of art”(177), suggesting that moving beyond our ideological foundations for identifying art can reveal much about the human conditon. However, I believe the concept that the stance one has towards defining art, performance, mode or context consequently adjusts the implications of these characteristics is one that is too subjective, and blurs the lines of classification to the degree that it devalues our association between art and social interaction. In this sense, I believe his explanation of the characteristics of nontheattrical performance limits our ability to conceive art as social and marginalizes theatrical performance, explaining that they are shallow because they lack experience and focus upon mere observation.

    Although I understand that Kaprow attempts to liberate performance from our preconceived notions regarding artistic framework as definitive in classification, through doing so I felt as through he did not take into account that the existence of theatrical performance and the social implications of these types of performances are a direct basis for nontheatrical performance. In his explanation of 7 Kinds of Sympathies, he mentions the effect of mimicry and caricature upon the temporality of actions and introduces this as a variable with obvious effects upon the experience. His introduction of this factor revealed to me that the sympathies enacted, as well as any actions performed under instruction are perceived by the non-theatrical performer as having theatrical qualities. This experiment in particular, due to its intimate nature, reveals that the mindset of someone given an instruction or task is that of scrutiny and classification- and the reaction of this underlying scrutiny and classification were the effects being observed. Had the imposition of existing frameworks for art not been present, the effects of actions would not have had the social connotations and independent internal feelings that result in turn. I believe his observations regarding non-theatrical performance reveals a basis and dependence upon theatricality. The frameworks follow us beyond whether art follows conventional modes or contexts because an embedded ideology regarding action and the social connotations of this action rely on the validation of our actions based on existing within or outside of our definitions- and this tension constantly exists within all performance, both in front of an audience or in within the bounds of our own scrutiny.

  12.   Jason G.

    Happenings:

    While every action in our everyday lives such as ordering a cup of coffee or lighting a cigarette for example certainly don’t qualify as “performances”; there is something very telling about this “raw” art form. An absurd instance such as opening and closing a trunk 750 times is indeed an art form largely as a result of the response. The response from the “audience” or by-standers is purely natural and unrehearsed there’s no framework such as a stage or an arena, this art is truely “raw” as there’s no fore-warning.
    There is also something to be said about the level of devotion involved in such pieces. These works go over more like protests than art celebrations. In many cases such as Reverend Billy’s these happenings are shut down by police. Going into a “happening” with this knowledge makes the art all the more intriguing to me.

    Restored Behavior:

    Schenner describes restored behavior as behavior manipulated just as a director manipulates a film reel. This definition in itself seemed almost creepy to me as I imagine a man holding humans on a puppet strings but perhaps thats just me. After reading the essay the definition made a lot more sense to me. This sort of phenomenon is prevalent in various modern art-forms. For instance modern metal music is a prime example.
    When you go to show displaying heavy music these days you always get the same response from the audience. The floor fills up with people pushing their way up front. The minute the music starts “mosh-pits” break out in the middle of the floor and the “participants” become entranced with the music and begin violently flailing in many cases colliding with each other. This sort of thing blows my mind as 99% of the time people go into these mosh-pits they know what they’re getting into; but the force of the music is so powerful it is justified to them.

    -Jason G.

  13.   pseraphin

    I agree that repeated rituals brings us together and linger in our memory. The example of church rituals is perfect. I have been to church myself for years. At one point I got tired of the rituals in my church because it became just a performance and sometimes those performancea are so manipulated that they don’t respond to the needs of those who attend church. A lot of time I get out feeling empty like nothing happened because it was the same repetition but my every day life and problems were different so I did not hear what I needed to hear to comfort me. The leaders of the church were more interested in keeping a pattern, a ritual which they think work. What is the most upsetting is that we all keep turning in on the same day in masses, although empty and disatisfied but not complaining to anyone. We just do it, we just show up to church. I didn’t get the example the wall of berlin, but the list of things to do would surely attract curiosity. I don’t know if people would really want to repeat opening a car truck several times.

    I am not sure what to make of Reverent Billy. I wish I had seen the movie.He is definitely making some huge impact and opening people eyes on shopping. I am not sure if he is being satirical but his performance is interesting. I found the first video a little weird. I am not sure if the choice of performance matches the message they want to convey.

  14.   gfl11131988

    Queens College
    Professor Corey Frost
    ENGL 781
    Response # 8
    George Festin Lorenzo
    10/28/2010

    This set of readings this week were very interesting in the respect that they managed to concern itself with reality and fantasy. The utilization of performance studies is truly unique in that it really helps establish acting within a real situation, as exemplified with Reverend Billy and his acts against shopping. Allen Kaprow’s Nontheatrical Performance was quite the reading, and right off the bat I knew this was a unique reading. It goes over how a person named Wolf Vostell organized an activity titled “Berlin Fever” and it was considered a Happening. It involved a series of steps and one of them was as ridiculous as, “During the whole passage, lick the hand you previously held the salt in” (Kaprow 164). When I was reading this, Improv Everywhere immediately came to mind and the stunts they have pulled. The entire paper itself was interesting in how it managed to set those steps for it’s participants.
    To comment on what Nick said in his response, I could not help but feel he is right. In the regular aspects of life he lists, such as work, relationships, school, religion, etc, Nick writes, “there certainly are roles being played, rules adhered to, and boundaries established”. In many ways, those aforementioned aspects of life do have these roles and although we are not “acting” when we participate in those aspects, there are these regulations that make it feel so formulaic. Relationships is one I definitely feel have these rules attached, as well as signs, like how the guy has to pay for the girl on the first date, you should let three days pass before you call (or text nowadays, I guess) and how the introduction of the parents is a signal that the dating is getting serious. We adhere to these rules because it’s worked for us since the dawn of time, right? On top of that, people are watching us still. As Nick said to conclude his middle paragraph, “while not always on display for the whole world to see on a stage, there is a performative element apparent none the less”.
    Out of these weeks readings and videos, I’m hard pressed to say anything was more interesting than the videos involving Reverend Billy. His acts and performances seem ridiculous and he puts it on as if he is just trying to get attention but the truth is that he is genuinely trying to stop people from shopping, especially during the Christmas season, known as his “shopacalypse”. He is able to put his eccentric performances outside of the theater and into real life in order to get his points across. I’m still unsure why he was arrested that time he was shouting in New York City but I suppose his eccentricity finally cost him.

  15.   mooneydanielle7

    Sorry that this is so late. Not that this is an excuse, but I was more focused on making sure my performance piece for tonight was all ready.

    What I’ve gathered from Kaprow’s definition of non-theatrical performance is that it is an art form that consciously rejects the traditional “art forms” that most people would categorize as art. It says this new type of performer must have an “indifference to the validation of the art world” (176). The performers are okay with the fact that this is an experimental form trying to be introduced into the canon of what we consider art. The article states, “the artist as researcher can begin to consider the act upon substantive questions about consciousness, communication, and culture without giving up membership in the profession of art.” So this new non-theatrical arts is able to consider his or her innovative work as a digression from typical art forms without rejecting traditional art, but embracing it.

    Considering this in terms of what everyone else has responded on the matter, I keep thinking of the simple concept of persuasion. Professor Frost and others brought up the idea that everything from church down to everyday life and relationships with others include some element of acting and performance. I don’t mean acting as in behaving with falsehood or holding up any type of facade, but I mean acting as far as behaving differently as appropriate for different situations. The priests in church (or leaders in any religious ceremony), are trying to persuade us and keep us interested in the faith they are “selling,” which is necessary to keep those establishments in tact. On a simpler level my opinion is yes, everything is a performance. When I am in front of a classroom teaching students, I am performing– makings sure my “pitch” about a given novel is interesting enough to keep them hooked. That is really what I gather about all of this. Whether certain behavior and persuasion is conscious or just something we do without much premeditation, we act the way we do to convince others, to calm them, to excite them, even just to prove a point in a conversation, and that is how interactions work. If we didn’t have emotion and the power of story telling we’d all be monotonous robots. These articles seem to be offering different contexts in which to view certain performances, which although they might not fall into the traditional spectrum of art, have their value.

  16.   Aidan

    Superb post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Cheers!

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    General public choices today regulate the entertainment businessin a way that had beenimpossible prior tothe net and also the viral distribution of current information in addition tofinished entertainment material. At the time you add to that distribution on the internet news reports websites, from gossip to whole films. It is a completely new society. Much of it really good, some not.

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  • Listening “Literature” implies a written text. But what about the audiotext? Why do we refer to the “audience” (from the Latin audiens, listening) of a literary work? This course is about listening to literature and reading performance. ____________________________________
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