My quandry here is that after the show Pavol, Kelly and Zach were discussing the work and kept talking about story-telling and how the piece was based on a desire to collect stories that meant something to people. And then the resultant piece (as magical as it is) is actually a retelling of a novel. This statement and the subsequent post is irrelevant to Nature Theater's activities and in no way meant to critique them or their rigor or dramaturgy, its just a thought the show and subsequent discussion triggered in me. You see, in my little back water of cultural/philosophical anthropology, stories and novels are two sort of mutually exclusive things - thanks in part to an essay Walter Benjamin wrote called "The Storyteller" back in the early 1900s and which theorized their mutally exclusive natures.
- Storytelling in Benjamin's context is a (primarily oral and therefore LIVE) craft in which experiences are exchanged and useful knowledge is passed on (a moral, practical advice or maxim).
- Whereas the novel, (like modern cinema or modern plays I would argue) is instead a representation-of-experience and reproduces the confounding nature of human life.
What NTofOk's show made me ponder is this: so much of contemporary performance these days is creative responses to films, novels, and other "representations-of-experience". At the core of this otherwise live experiential exchange between artists and listener/watcher is not an experience the artist lived through, but a representation-of-experience the artist read about or watched in 2D on a screen at some point before. What is that about?
How does this/can this co-opting of the representation-of-experience then translate to the contemporary hunger for "experiences"? Is there some difference in the take-away from a piece of performance that is a retelling of a story/experience vs. a representation-of-experience? If so what is it? And would we children of the Spectacle even know the difference having grown up in a world enveloped by representations-of-itself?
is it that in our "post-modernness" we are just replacing the problematic truthiness of the "social/practical knowledge" at the heart of the Benjaminian story, with the very real intensity of perplexity, doubt and confoundedness at the heart of the human experience?