The definitive, abiding, iconic image of theatre

18 thoughts on “The definitive, abiding, iconic image of theatre

  1. Why? I seriously question the assumption that lies behind that. Do you think Africans are more “primal” and “basic” (ie. base) than other people?

    That’s what it sounds like to me.

  2. jeez anon, did you have your wheaties this morning?

    the assumption that lies behind that image, (and for the record I am a ghost light man myself), is just that the earliest example of theatre provides the definitive, abiding, iconic image of theatre.

    any other connotations are strictly of your own invention and not Mary’s.

  3. It’s perfectly relevant to acknowledge that the folks in the Africa shot are African. (Though if the image showed a bunch of white people, I doubt that race would have come up as a topic.)

    In my mind, that image, in the context in which we have presented it, makes both historical reference to Africa as the region where the first theatre was performed AND is a reference to some of theatre’s most elemental units: the performer, the audience, costumes, performance stage, the sense of play . . .

    It’s an image that, to me, makes an elegant connection between these two ideas.

    It’s interesting that one of the few non-Western-theatre-related images to appear on this blog would be so readily accused of racial stereotyping.

    I think it says something about our collective bias. I’m not sure what, though.

  4. Umm, that photo seems to have been taken since the invention of the camera, so I’d hardly call it “earliest”. It looks pretty contemporary to me.

    Also, you DO NOT know what is going on in that photograph. You’ve made a lot of assumptions.

    I ALSO notice you’ve assumed that the image is yours to appropriate and interpret as you choose. Did you ask that tribe’s permission?

    All very recognizable, eurocentric, imperialist thought patterns.

  5. holy shit, time warp! i’m back on a college/university campus in 1993 when identity politics were all the rage and no one who was not part of a self-identifying group could have an idea about anything that did not relate to their own specific experience.

    Whoomp There It Is is topping the charts, Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar have vanquished all their foes, and intellectual discourse is at a needless and juvenile standstill.

  6. “Why? I seriously question the assumption that lies behind that. Do you think Africans are more “primal” and “basic” (ie. base) than other people?””

    I wasn’t assuming anything; I was merely reacting to the image, as we’re meant to do (as Ian said: in the context in which we have presented it”).

    My preference for that image as the iconic one for theatre doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that the people in it happen to be African. The photo could’ve shown a group of people in any part of the world, and I’d still prefer it to any of the other nominated images that have been presented here. (Although, I do like Ian’s interpretation of the relevance of the African setting.)

    As Ian also said, the image suggests all the elements necessary for theatre: performers, audience, a show. It suggests (to me, that is) that theatre is for everybody, not just for those who are lucky enough to make a living at it or those who are rich enough to afford tickets. It’s something that’s always been a part of being human and, I believe, always will be in some way, shape, or form.

    An auditorium (or posh seats) are not essential in order to have theatre; therefore, an image of something like that doesn’t work for me as an abiding icon.

  7. Well, I’ll take the frantic denials as a sort of sideways “mea culpa”.

    Let’s move on. Image-Google “Shaman of Trois Freres”.

  8. yes anon. it’s the beginning of the opposites. whenever we say “no” it really means we’re moving sideways to mean yes.

    thank you sincerely for all of your well thought out arguments today.

  9. Ian, Shaman of Trois Freres is the oldest known image of a costumed human, apparently in performance mode. Europe, 10000s of yrs old.

    MW, I think the definitive, abiding, iconic image-search should continue, that’s all.

  10. I will wholly agree with that one anon. Given recent funding developments, can anyone get a shot of the condos where Artword Theatre used to be?

    Perhaps we are missing the boat entirely here, arguing over the finer points of cultural detritus while what’s left of our industry in sacrificed on the altar of very sophisticated political maneuvering?

  11. Okay. Well, stop condescending to Africans and inferring that they are closer to animals than you.

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