Breaking down barriers: Liminality Essay

‘Writing about the Theatre of Grotowski, Christopher Innes tells us that ‘ [ the ] interrupting down of barriers between persons goes together with interrupting down barriers within the individual’ ( Innes, 1993: p153 )

How might the construct of ‘Liminality’ help us to understand the procedure by which Theatre might try such a interrupting down of barriers? Discuss with relation to at least two productions, clearly placing the ways in which barriers within and between the persons were intended to be dismantled.

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Liminality is a construct most anthropologist would utilize with the rite of transition associated with pre-industrial societies, such as folks in Africa. The rite of transition has three parts to this ;

  • Separation, where the person is taken off from the society or societal norms
  • Liminal, where the person is left in a originative pandemonium in this separate infinite where societal conventions and Torahs do non use.
  • Reintegration where the person is brought back into the society left unchanged but reinserted into the society in a higher societal standing non altering the position quo ( De Coppet, 1992: pg16 )

However, many theatre production are liminal in the facet of originative pandemonium, but we can name them Liminoids, like a rite of transition but the reintegration portion serves to alter the position quo. This in affect can interrupt barriers down within and between persons. Here single can intend a performing artist ( a individual who performers to the audience ) , an audience member ( a individual who watches the performing artist in the workspace ) and a participant ( person who makes portion in the activity or event ) . These barriers are what stops the person from barricading a true reaction every bit good as liberating the motion, this is the chief facet in Via Negativa. This is an histrion preparation technique that trains to actor by acquiring rid of a accustomed things that leads to thining or fillet of the interior truth to be sent to or given by the audience member ( Grotowski, 1991: pg101 ) .

The two productions/work discussed within this essay areApocalypsis semen Figuris ( 1968 )and the period ofParatheatre( 1970s ) . These two periods of work are commentary on Grotowski’s work and what he wanted to alter in Theatre.Apocalypsiswas a public presentation on the coming of Christ ( whether he has and non been noticed ) with characters being within the infinite named after holy figures and a simpleton. The period ofParatheatrehad no productions but events that consisted of liminal infinites and merely affect participants. Two illustrations that will be examined subsequently will beThe Mountain Project ( 1976-7 )andThe Vigil ( 1977 ) .

The interrupting down of barriers does non merely go on within the audience members, it happens within the performing artist excessively. Throughout the procedure ofApocalypsis Cum Figuris ( 1968 )( or any old Grotowski productions ) , Grotowski ne’er gave the performing artists any new accomplishments but alternatively took off, from the performing artists, things that stopped the Performer’s truth from being shown to the audience, such as physical blocks, accustomed patterns, etc. which is Grotowski’s Via Negativa, ‘a procedure of elimination’ ( Grotowski and Barba, 1991: pg101 ) . Within this riddance procedure, the person ( the performing artist ) has to interrupt down their ain personal barriers that would do them demo the ‘real’ individual ( ‘real’ significance nil diluting or halting what the audience members see ) , without have oning any societal masks that are one of many defense mechanism mechanisms that protects us from being vulnerable with each other.

The audience can besides hold this sense of Via Negativa, traveling through it by interrupting down their ain personal and/or spiritual beliefs. This is due to the really profane nature of the work of Grotowski in any of his productions, but peculiarlyApocalypsis.This gets each single audience member to oppugn whether Jesus Christ would come once more or even whether He has come but no 1 noticed Him. This oppugning comes from the symbolic usage of the usage of a simpleton, which the Polish Laboratory Theatre stated that the simpleton is ever seen as being ‘in cryptic communicating with the supernatural’ ( theater, 1969: pg. 165 ) , and the followings and/or other histrions being named after or are seen as symbolic figures from the Bible. The mentions to these Holy figures make the audience inquiry the really spiritual facets of the production and get down to make a true reaction to the piece, in the sense of the audience member happening their ain truthfulness.

Though Via Negativa is a chief facet with the Theatre of Productions stage of Grotowski’s work, it wasn’t the lone manner that broke down barriers within the person ; the usage of freak outs does this well within the piece ofApocalypsis. The freak outs that affect the audience member reinforces the originative pandemonium, which comes from being within the liminal stage of this piece, makes the audience member become playful within the subjects of the piece. The existent consequence itself withApocalysiscomes from the really minute the audience member walks into the workspace, holding the performing artists walk in with them as ordinary people as characters from within the modern clip. This slowly involves the audience member into the production which with the Via Negativa facet on the audience helps to interrupt down the personal barriers. The construct of whether Christ has come but unnoticed can take to freak outs within the audience member as they will be seeking to calculate out the reply and reinforces the determination of the truth within the audience member.

The period ofParatheatreinterruptions down the barriers within the person in many ways, one being Via Negativa, even with this procedure non being a direct facet of this period. The Procedure of Via Negativa helps the participant to be unfastened with the group work that is specific to this period of Grotowski’s work onParatheatre.The Mountain Project ( 1966-7 )andThe Vigil ( 1967 )even went further into the riddance consequence of Via Negativa by extinguishing vocal communicating between the participants. This made the group to concentrate on the work they were making with more machination, pass oning in a non-vocal manner, being a sort of asocial ( neither in a societal or antisocial manner ) within this work. A premier illustration of this is withinThe Vigilas Jacek Zmyslowski led the Participants to get down to make a infinite of silence before walking down into the workspace. This silence when they got into the infinite made them look at their motions ( this could be walking, puting or even making axial rotations ) in a wholly different manner to before as they looked at the motions in great item as if they were researching them for the first clip. This intimate work within the single breaks the barrier by doing them interrupt the societal ‘norms’ by interrupting their ain societal masks and working in complete item on the motions.

The usage of natural infinites and silence can be seen as a freak out, doing the participants mystify their milieus or work within the events that take them out of the normal studio workspace and alter them into this beautiful natural scenes, such as the countryside around Wroclaw. This gets the participants to go used to working in different ambiances to what they are used to. The 2nd portion ofThe Mountain Project, calledThe Way, was done in this silence ( except in exceeding fortunes such as in exigencies ) and this journey was done outside of Wroclaw in the surrounding countryside, with a batch of chances to make paratheatrical work. the silence and the alteration of puting can be disorientating if the participants have been used to working in studio infinites non pastoral countryside, which helps to construct a sense of this originative pandemonium that happens within the liminal stage of a rite of transition or in this instance a liminoid.

Apocalypsisused a different audience agreement to a traditional production, this being the audience sat on the floor and on benches within a studio workspace compared to the audience being sat in a separate seating country ( auditorium ) to the workspace which the performing artists use ( phase ) . The different usage of infinite meant that the audience can be actively involved by maintaining the audience at the performer’s degree maintaining them engaged in the piece. At a portion of the production, the audience push the benches to the sides and sit on the floor which lowers them even more to the performer’s degree and do them prosecute in the piece even more. This within the liminal infinite lets them open up to the thoughts and subjects within the piece every bit good as expression into the relationship between the audience and performing artists.

The fact the dramatis personae walk in with the audience and are characters within the modern times, which engages the audience members with the performing artists and puts the audience into a province of consciousness within theApocalypsis. This helps the freak out within the persons every bit good as between them to make the scenario of whether Christ has already come or non, doing the members of the audience find their ain truth every bit good as prosecuting with the performing artists within themselves.

Communitas helps to interrupt barriers between the audience members and the performing artists on the phase due to the members being actively involved from them being at the performer’s degree, conveying them closer to a sense of communitas between each other. This sense of communitas can take to the audience members and performing artists interrupting the barriers between them as they try to happen the interior truth for themselves, together and as an person. The audience can experience this throughoutApocalypsis, but this is guided by the performing artists and/or the layout such as traveling the benches so the audience and performing artists are on the same degree.

The performing artists, as I have implied above, can besides experience a sense of communitas within their procedure towards the public presentations as they have to work continuously closely throughout the procedure and public presentation, holding to make the stuff in their ain kind of liminal stage and the originative pandemonium that comes with liminality. This comes even within the creative activity of the stuff, such as the cast’s film editings from theBibleandthe Brothers Karamazov( theater, 1969: pg162 ) . These, even with merely utilizing the film editings and the procedure, can convey the performing artists together and convey them into a more intimate relationship, more than community but communitas between the dramatis personae.

The intent ofParatheatrewas to acquire rid of the actor-spectator barrier, so that there are participants to the events with one or more people, from the squad Grotowski created for the paratheatrical work, taking the event ( s ) . These participants can be from any profession every bit long as they have the ability set that Grotowski and his squad needed for the events. The participants therefore have the lone position of the work and travel into the deepness they want to work in and non be limited to it whether working as one or within a group. A good illustration of this is fromthe Vigil, led by Zymslowski, where each person tested their ain motions like the axial rotations within their ain motion, this being thinks like walking, turn overing or even puting. This liminal workspace let the participants open themselves to the motion, proving them like it is the first clip they have of all time done that specific motion.

In a different event, the rule of the participants being in charge of their ain deepness within the work, but researching it with others is shown with The Final portion of theMountain Undertaking. This portion, calledThe Mountain of Fire, was an unorganized agenda of feeding, sleeping, smoke and working, intending the group together ( without speaking ) have to make up one’s mind what they are making, where they are making it ( as they were permitted to work outside of the palace they were within ) and how long for. This leads to the participants going more unfastened with each other in the group, reenforcing the Via Negativa, but taking it to between each other instead than within the person.

Within the Paratheatrical work, the sense of communitas grows through the events of the period due to the participants being in groups and working at an intimate degree with each other. This can be seen within the full ofThe Mountain Project. The Night Vigilswas a proving portion to the event which selected people who were able to run into the standards for the remainder of the event, but they start to work closely as a group. InThe Way,the Participants are sent on a physical journey where there is no speaking so people have to understand each other in a more unfastened manner making a sense of communitas between each other. The journey consisted of motion ( walking and paratheatrical work ) which led them onto theMountain of Fire. In this, the sense of communitas went farther as they had to ‘feel’ what each other wanted to make. This came from the originative pandemonium of the liminal scenes with which theMannerand theMountain of Firewere set within.

Within the Grotowski’s work of two cardinal parts of his life that he termed the Theatre of Production and Paratheatre, the cardinal parts of interrupting barriers within each other and between each other you need the barrier to interrupt within the single first before they can interrupt barriers within each other. When 1 has broken the barrier within themselves they can ( more easy ) start to interrupt down the barriers between each other and make a image with everyone with the infinite. Each event the barriers are broken within a liminal space/setting significance that the participants, performing artist and the audience member can be in a sense of originative pandemonium that leads them to interrupt down the barriers.

Reference list

Coppet, D.d. , European Association of Social Anthropologists & A ; European Association of Social Anthropologists ( Conference ) 1992, Understanding rites, Routledge, New York ; London.

Grotowski, J. & A ; Barba, E. 1991, Towards a hapless theater, Methuen Drama, London

Theatre, P.L. 1969, “ Apocalypsis semen Figuris ” , The Drama Review: TDR, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 161-171.


Coppet, D.d. , European Association of Social Anthropologists & A ; European Association of Social Anthropologists ( Conference ) 1992, Understanding rites, Routledge, New York ; London.

Grotowski, J. & A ; Barba, E. 1991, Towards a hapless theater, Methuen Drama, London.

Grotowski, J. & A ; Salata, K. 2008, On the Genesis of Apocalypsis, MIT Press Journals, Cambridge.

Innes, C.D. 1993, Avant garde theater, 1892-1992, Routledge, London.

Kumiega, J. 1985, The theater of Grotowski, Methuen, London.

Schechner, R. 2002, Performance surveies: an debut, Routledge, London.

Slowiak, J. & A ; Cuesta, J. 2008, Jerzy Grotowski, Routledge, London.

Wolford, L. & A ; Schechner, R. 2001, The Grotowski sourcebook, Routledge, London.

Theatre, P.L. 1969, “ Apocalypsis semen Figuris ” , The Drama Review: TDR, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 161-171.


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