The Strength of the Few: Dominant and Subdominant in the Poetic Function of Theater

Anna Gabriela Ramis. "The Strength of the Few: Dominant and Subdominant in the Poetic Function of Theater." Diss. U of Washington, 2012.

The Strength of the Few: Dominant and Subdominant in the Poetic Function of Theater is a semiotic study that, resorting to the contribution of the Russian formalists (Shklovsky, Tynianov, and Jakobson) and the Prague Linguistic Circle, describes the theater model practiced by few theater-makers, those who truly fulfill their function as artists. Their model requires the practice of autonomy and commonality, and the unity of aesthetic and ethical principles. This dissertation establishes a relationship between a secondary position of verbal language and the predominance of poetic function, which allows the spectator to focus on how the message is transmitted rather than on what is stated. In the hierarchy of the languages of the stage, there is a dominant (major language) and a subdominant (important, but not major language). The subdominant is a concept that this study proposes drawing on music theory. The poetic function of theater causes perception that focuses on signs rather than on a story or referent, and it only takes place when verbal language is a subdominant. It allows multiple interpretations and requires active spectators. When verbal language is the dominant, the referential function of theater takes place.
This dissertation analyzes the theory and practice of Jarry, Appia, Craig, expressionists, Dadaists, surrealists, Meyerhold, Brecht, Artaud, and Grotowski that question the referential function in the theater. It also analyzes in detail contemporary performance texts from Spain, Perú, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Denmark and Hungary, presented at international theater festivals between 1985 and 2009: Argelino, servidor de dos amos, a version of Goldoni's piece, by Animalario; Filatura by Teatro de los Sentidos; Albentestate, a version of Antigone, by Nun Tris; Doña Rosita, a version of García Lorca's play, and Vania, la realidad y el deseo, a text that combines a version of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and poetry by Cernuda, by Teatro del Norte; Encuentro de zorros by Yuyachkani; Esperando el alba by Canada Project; O Grande Criador by Companhia do Chapitô; La menzogna by Compagnia Pippo Delbono; Ur-Hamlet, based on Saxo Grammaticus's Gesta Danorum, by Odin Teatret; and Ledarálnakeltüntem, based on Kafka's The Trial, by Katona József Theatre.

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