- Manfred Schewe (MS) as Moderator,
Department of Drama & Theatre Studies, University College Cork (UCC);
- Mandy Collins (MC), Postgraduate Student in Applied Linguistics, UCC;
- Bernadette Cronin (BC), Department of Drama & Theatre Studies, UCC;
- Mike Fleming (MF), School of Education, University of Durham;
- Katja Frimberger (KF), Department of Drama & Theatre Studies, Brunel University, London;
- Dragan Miladinovic (DM), Department of German, UCC;
- Róisín O’Gorman (ROG), Department of Drama & Theatre Studies, UCC;
- Barbara Schmenk (BS), Department of Germanic & Slavic Studies, University of Waterloo.
Please note that this is a slightly edited version of the group discussion. Scenario wishes to acknowledge the vital contribution
of Josephine Rutz by expressly thanking her for the transcription of the discussion.
MS: Welcome everyone to this afternoon’s group discussion as part of the 4th SCENARIO FORUM Symposium. As you have read in the Symposium programme the German professional association Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft (BAG) Spiel & Theater e.V. aims to develop an international glossary of key terms in the area of applied drama and theatre and has invited professionals from outside Germany to become involved in this project.
Thank you for coming along to this session which is the first brainstorming session on the topic of an international glossary in the area of Performative Arts and Pedagogy. The participants in today’s group discussion are based at institutions in English speaking countries. I wish to thank especially our guests from abroad for their contributions to the Symposium: Barbara Schmenk from Canada, University of Waterloo; Katja Frimberger from Britain, Brunel University, London and Mike Fleming, University of Durham; and, of course, also a big thanks to my university colleagues Róisín O’Gorman and Bernadette Cronin, based in the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies as well as Dragan Miladinovic, Department of German, and Mandy Collins who just yesterday completed her doctorate in Applied Linguistics. Congratulations, Mandy!
How will we kick this off? Perhaps by noting that Theaterpädagogik is an established academic discipline in Germany. Immediately the question arises: What equivalent discipline do we have in Britain, in Ireland, Canada or other countries?
Performative Arts and Pedagogy is the provisional title for the envisaged international glossary. It signals that the term ‘performative’ takes us beyond theatre as an art form and is more inclusive. In the English speaking world you would speak a lot about the “performing arts”. I guess this includes theatre, music, dance … anything else?
ROG Performance art.
MS Performance art as well of course, and perhaps also opera? If traditionally you refer to a concept of ‘performing arts’ the question arises what the implications are if we begin to speak of ‘performative arts’ instead? This in any case was the term favoured by colleagues who were present at the meeting called by the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Spiel und Theater in Berlin. There seemed to be a general agreement that the term ‘performative’ goes beyond disciplines associated with the term ‘performing arts’ and is more inclusive, by incorporating all arts disciplines which put an important emphasis on creative doing and, through aesthetic means, aim at transformation in the broadest sense, especially at social and political change. This is of course a very broad territory. So what the initiators of the project in Germany would like to happen is that scholars and practitioners in different countries come together and begin to discuss the idea of an international glossary entitled Performative Arts and Pedagogy. So today marks the first meeting of colleagues from different English speaking countries. In this context let me mention as well that our journal SCENARIO has started an initiative which is called the SCENARIO Correspondents Initiative, the aim of which is to find out more about what’s happening in other countries in the area of performative teaching, learning and research. What kind of infrastructure do we have in the different countries? What kind of performative arts related disciplines? What kind of key terms et cetera are floating around? As we have to begin somewhere, why not with the term ‘apple pie’?
MS Yesterday in the Glucksman restaurant Mike Fleming and I had lunch; I looked at the watch and realised there was still time for a desert and we agreed to order an …. Apple Pie. When I looked at the menu card again it occurred to me: What the chef of this Irish University restaurant refers to as an ‘apple pie‘, what would the equivalent be called in German? ‘Apfelkuchen’? I guess ‘Apfelkuchen’ is most commonly used in a German context, but what exactly is the difference between a cake and a pie? What exactly is a pie? So in a sense we are looking at these kind of issues here today. Okay, we are not looking at apple cakes and apple pies, we are now looking at key terms frequently used in the area of drama and/or theatre pedagogy.
In order to start with a concrete example, why not start with the key terms used in Barbara Schmenk’s session: Drama and theatre! Is it clear what exactly the difference is? With reference to an English speaking context: is there a certain understanding of what exactly constitutes drama and what exactly constitutes theatre? And how is it in the German context? Any thoughts on this?
MF Can I tell my anecdote?
MS Yeah, sure.
MF I don’t want to be too self-indulgent here. But this is an anecdote that’s true. I’ve been working with a group at the Council of Europe – the project is finished now. The five of us were producing a short document and it was coming towards the end of the project and somebody said: ‘Oh, we need a glossary!’ Yes. And we need somebody to do a first draft so when we come back in six weeks time we’ve got something to work on. We were looking at each other and I said (uncharacteristically, I think): ‘Don’t look at me, I don’t believe in glossaries.’ And there was chortling and laughter and they weren’t quite sure if I was joking or didn’t want to do the job. Anyway, somebody was assigned to do it and he came back six or eight weeks later and said: ‘I couldn’t do it.’ To actually write about the concepts that were in this document he needed a page or more for each concept. This meant a glossary would end up being longer than the actual publication. So we actually abandoned the idea of a glossary and I felt obliged to launch into an explanation, emphasising the fluidity of language, how language has meaning in contexts, is constantly changing and therefore a glossary which is seeking to give a single precise definition is very, very difficult. And one of my colleagues said to me ‘yes, that’s all well and good, but if I’m somebody in France reading a document in English, it would be pretty handy having some listed terms’. So there was on the one hand the sort of quasi philosophical poststructuralist view of the complexity of language and meaning, and on the other hand a kind of pragmatic, ‘yes, that’s all well and good but we’ve got to communicate with each other and particularly across languages more’. So I think there is a tension here and there will be a tension formulating a glossary. And if you just take the word ‘performative’: we can define it as meaning being active and presenting, but what about all the theoretical perspectives associated with performative that we were addressing this morning? So I think it’s quite complex, a glossary will be a compromise perhaps. Because to do justice to some of the complexities the terms would need long entries and that would defeat the pragmatic approach. So I think it’s important to go into such a project with one’s eyes open in terms of fulfilling those needs. I mean there are glossaries that are more like encyclopaedias, aren’t they? Well, each entry is more like an academic article on a specific concept. But would that be unhelpful to the more pragmatic concerns? So that’s just a challenge, but beyond that, I absolutely agree with the need, because if you just take a few terms in the UK, for example, process drama, theatre in education, drama for understanding, drama for learning, applied theatre, theatre in education, there’s a proliferation of terms that do cause confusion.
ROG I’m afraid to say anything.
(everyone is laughing)
ROG Stop the proliferation! I’m thinking of Raymond Williams’ Keywords as a model. And then I’m also thinking how to keep the glossary itself something more performative? Can we think of it as additive and not stabilising necessarily? I think the international perspective is very rich and I wonder do we have to resolve it into a shorter form? Following the OED type model with your short definition, then following we have the different uses, times, place, context and so on? But I think how can the technology help? Can we find a performative platform in terms of a structure so that while we have working definitions and examples of use that we understand them as mobile, evolving with use? The image of word clouds comes to mind and as you scroll they move and link?
MS May I just add that at that meeting in Berlin an agreement was reached that it would be an online glossary. The implication seems to be that you can add new perspectives, review and update at an appropriate point in time.
BS Well, one thing is for sure, in order to produce a glossary you need translingual and transcultural competence. And you know, Mike, you said that there’s a tension between the two but I would dare to disagree because at the end of the day I think the problem lies in the fact that people believe that there is such a thing as a pragmatic quick translation. There is not. And the problem, I think, becomes very obvious when you have so called ‘false friends’ between two languages that kind of look the same but mean something else, and the only way of finding out more about it is to assume that they may not be the same even though they look alike. A really good example is perhaps the word ‘discourse’. It has a completely different meaning in French and particularly in education as compared to the meaning of ‘discourse’ in English. It’s ‘discours’ in French, it’s ‘discourse’ in English, it’s ‘Diskurs’ in German, and they all look alike and we’re tempted to treat them as equivalents in all the languages, except the words do have different meanings and in order to get it you first of all have to have a certain sensitivity that they may not have the same meaning; and in order to find out what the meanings are, you know, the more you’re into this kind of thing you realise that in order to find out about the meaning of a specific word you have to learn more about the history of that word, how it’s used today, the contexts within which it is used. I mean, I said something like that this morning in a theoretical context, I talked about the contexts where things come from and stuff. But in order to understand the use of the word ‘discourse’ in several languages you have to assume that there are all these contexts and then you have to enter some kind of dialogue instead of writing a glossary, and this could be a very long process. You probably have to talk to people and find out more about it, which can be very rewarding in itself. And I think the problem comes in when people think: ‘Ah we don’t have to do all the talking, let’s just write that glossary’, you know? ‘We just make it simple.’ As if we could, you know, just avoid the problem. We can’t really.
ROG But I think having a lot of people putting those words beside each other and having them beside each other can hold open a space of dialogue and comparison – not as a reductive glossary of simple things. Also, it’s very interesting to think of theatre pedagogy as a discipline, as opposed to a practice. It just opens other possibilities.
KF I suppose, it’s just about having a starting point. When you said ‘online’ I thought of Wikipedia, I don’t mean that Wikipedia is a great model, but having a platform where you can edit publicly and where people can add, might be useful. It’s a starting point.
MS Yea, then it has to be monitored and you need to agree. I mean this discussion, this exchange of views, Barbara, could go on forever obviously ...
BS I think it’s fun.
MS Yeah, it’s fun, but also a big challenge.
MF If one challenge is the issue of language and meaning in a specific context, another challenge is how extensive the field becomes. You might confine it to the ‘performative arts’, but where do you start and how do you avoid that it becomes all embracing?
DM I am not yet that involved in drama and theatre but it just occurred to me: Isn’t the question always who is involved in using and defining a term? Who actually is allowed to change a specific term then in the glossary? Who is empowered to do so and who is not? I think it’s a kind of a powerful position to be able to change something and frustrating not to be permitted to do so. I think that’s maybe something that should also be considered.
MS Yes, that’s an interesting point.
MF You are absolutely right about the implications of the electronic element, that is what’s possible. Because I think the idea of a more stable section, with the option of further dialogue, would be very interesting – similar to the kind of revision you get with Wikipedia. But if you have constant editing, you might not get enough initial stability.
KF Even if it wasn’t online, if it was a book that was relatively stable and had definitions. Could you frame it in a way that you say ‘Well this is the way we put it together but don’t see it as a definition, see it as a starting point for your own conversation and for making this viable in your own context of work’. I don’t know exactly how that would function but it would be more like giving prompters for re-definition, for contextual re-definition, rather than giving explanations per se. For example: ESOL teachers who teach drama to refugees in a Glasgow school. So, if they look at a term in the glossary, could they, as a teaching team, use it as a first reference point for a conversation about how the term makes sense in their own context? The glossary could be of practical use to them that way.
MS I mean it’s quite a challenge to begin to collect these key terms. You don’t necessarily get good overviews, relevant lists and so on.
ROG: But do you have a starting point of key words or a list?
MS We could generate a list here today. Why not use a specific example from Katja’s lecture demonstration this morning? She used the term ‘sculpture’ and asked the students to form a sculpture. It seemed quite clear to most who were present what she meant by it. However, what about the closely related terms ‘still image’, ‘tableau’ and ‘freeze frame’?
KF Or ‘Standbild’ in German.
MS So we have four different terms which mean kind of the same thing. But what exactly is the difference? Do we know? Do we know well enough? I don’t think I do.
MF And the term ‘drama in education’ is interesting enough in itself. To some people in the UK it means drama across the curriculum, drama to teach other subjects. However, it is not always interpreted that way and, historically, it had not been interpreted that way. It arose as a term to describe a particular narrow approach to teaching drama which was very much process orientated and it wasn’t particularly theatre-related. So it was used in different ways even at the time. So if we talk about a concept having a context and an ecology drama and education is a case in point. What about the equivalent of the term ‘drama and education’ in German, would you know?
MS I think, I’m kind of responsible for translating the term into German by creating the term ‘Dramapädagogik’ which at a first glance could be ‘re-translated’ as ‘drama pedagogy’ I suppose.
BS And here is one of my favourite little talks, because ‘Pädagogik’ is not the same as ‘pedagogy’. While it looks the same, it is absolutely not the same.
MS Why is that?
BS The German word ‘Pädagogik’ means ‘educational science’ or theory, and that is not the same as ‘pedagogy’, which is closer to ‘Didaktik’ or ‘Methodik’. And you can go on and on and on and, honestly, the reason I am saying this is that I found out the hard way, because if people say, she works in pedagogy, then Germans would think I work in education. And they would put me into different building. And where would people put me if I’d come to work in Ireland or the United States? So, you know, it’s a little complicated, it’s not a matter of words only, right? There are traditions and institutional backgrounds and also conceptual differences that make a great difference actually. When people in the United States and also in Canada say ‘She's doing pedagogy’, then I’m always like: ‘No, I am doing a little more than that’, you know? So it’s not that easy, and Manfred’s term ‘Dramapädagogik’ is much wider than ‘drama pedagogy’ I suggest.
MS Goodness, yes.
KF So when you say ‘Dramapädagogik’ or ‘Theaterpädagogik’ in German for example, does the difference lie in the ‘Pädagogik’ bit? Is the difference in German that you always evoke ‘progressive education’ (like Froebel for example)? Does ‘Pädagogik’ always trace back that history through the term. As you say, Pedagogy in English … it’s more technical, right? Isn’t it that what you’re saying?
BS Yes, pedagogy in English is pretty much what Germans would call ‘Didaktik’, ‘Didaktik und Methodik’.
KF Yes, ok, so it’s teaching strategies, pedagogical activities. Ok.
MS And the German word ‘Didaktik’ in my experience doesn’t work too well in the English speaking world.
BS The word ‘didactic’ is somewhat problematic …
MS I would agree as in my experience it has negative connotations here in Ireland, for example, while in Germany it is generally used with some pride in educational institutions.
BS Yes, and this is also connected with the institutionalization of the field of ‘Didaktik’ in German universities, at some stage ‘Didaktik’ became a scholarly field and research area.
MS So you would you see yourself as a ‘Fremdsprachendidaktikerin’?
BS Yes, or as a ‘Fremdsprachenforscherin’, ‘cause the Germans changed that terminology there. It was when I moved to Canada that they then called me an ‘applied linguist’. That’s interesting too. It’s basically the same but –
KF It sounds cooler.
BS Well, it sounds different in any case …
BC What’s the proposal for the international glossary in terms of languages? Is it intended to be a multilingual glossary?
MS That is still in discussion, but obviously English has become sort of the Lingua Franca and so it will be initially English and German I assume. However, given appropriate funding, a translation into other languages would always be an option. As I said at the beginning this is all very new and our gathering here today only a first brainstorming in this English speaking part of the world. The German association Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Spiel & Theater will have another meeting in February 2017 and discuss this further. Representatives of the association have more recently been involved in a project in Ghana and raised the issue of an international glossary there. The first reaction of colleagues in Ghana seems to have been: What exactly would we here need a glossary for? It will be very interesting to find out more about colleagues’ reactions in the different countries. How much mileage do colleagues in Ghana and elsewhere see in a project of this kind? To what extent will it embraced or not? So it’s an open playing field.
In any case it seems the idea will be embraced in the German context where Theaterpädagogik has been established as an academic discipline. Over the last decades the discipline has developed many connections to equivalent disciplines and/or professional associations in other countries and therefore colleagues in Germany have an interest in an international research project with a focus on intercultural dialogue through the development of an international glossary.
MF And the process might be a hugely developmental one, it might not be product-orientated easily because no doubt there are some terms where it would be easier to draw some boundaries than others. There would be some terms that would lend themselves to shorter definitions but others would be more problematic.
BC I think it does come back to the ‘Apfelkuchen’ and ‘apple pie’. Even in this brief conversation it’s really interesting already what is emerging.
I recently completed a voice teacher training in the Kristin Linklater method. The training was in German and the German practitioners are currently working on a translation of Kristin Linklater’s seminal work Freeing the Natural Voice; as it is such a specific language it’s really really difficult to translate it into German. They have been working on it now for several years but that process is absolutely fascinating. Discussing, you know, trying to find the equivalence – and we do carve up reality differently in different languages and those differences are: the different flour, the different apples, the different recipes, the different traditions. It’s just so rich and interesting. So it would be a shame for it to just be in English, it would seem to me.
ROG We should have lots of pie and tart and cake.
BC Well, pie is very American for us. I mean, I never heard the word ‘apple pie’, you know, in the earlier part of my life. An apple tart is very different to an apple pie in my mind. And ‘Apfelkuchen’ is something completely different and then there is ‘Apfelstrudel’ ....
ROG Just taste it all and figure it out.
BS Yeah, but in order to truly understand the differences you would have to really, you know, taste them and yes –
ROG Yes, and we are back to forms of drama and theatre.
BC Experiencing them in their context?
MS Yes, experiencing them in their context in order to fully understand obviously makes a lot of sense.
DM I just think that the glossary would be a good response to something that Barbara outlined today when she said the area of drama and theatre, at least within the foreign languages, does not come across as academic enough and therefore remains a bit outside the mainstream academic discourse.
MF Is there an equivalent in German to the term ‘process drama’? Or is that a unique invention?
MS It is a very unique invention, I suppose. I actually translated it, possibly a bit clumsily, into German and called it ‘Unterricht als gestaltete Improvisation’. Which means that teaching and learning is understood to be a process of improvisation, but I also used the term ‘gestaltet’ to emphasise the aspect of giving conscious shape. After all, the teacher is not interested in ‘mindless improvising’, but makes use of certain conventions or strategies so ensure that the experience for students is intensified and deeper learning can happen.
BS Process is a difficult word to translate into German, because it has actually several meanings. When you think about it in English and in German, I mean, you can always call it ‘Prozess’ in German, that’s almost the same word. However, that’s a trial as well in German and there’s another German word that mostly captures what process means and that is ‘Verarbeitung’. Yet it’s very hard to work with that word in German because the English does allude to all those things. So it’s actually quite tricky and the process drama – one thing that you cannot say is ‘Prozessdrama’.
KF You could perhaps say ‘prozesshaft’?
BS Yes, or perhaps ‘prozessual’, but ‘prozesshaft’ doesn’t contain the ‘Verabeitungs’-idea either in the sense of ‘to process something’.
MF I think to go to the bottom of those subtle meanings is admirable. I am not that fond of the term ‘process drama’ even though it still gets used very widely. However, it can easily perpetuate divisions. The fact that it is still being used is quite understandable, because I think its origins were in the improvisational approach of drama and education and process drama means a combination of possibly using text and improvising, possibly working towards small performances, it’s a more hybrid term now, but people still cling to the term to emphasise that the drama-based work is process rather than product-orientated.
ROG Looking up ‘glossary’ here and OED has ‘gloss’ from ‘glossary’, is a word inserted between the lines, or in the margin as an explanatory equivalent of a foreign or otherwise difficult word in a text as applied to a similar explanatory rendering of a word given in a glossary or dictionary. Also, in a wider sense, a comment, explanation, interpretation, often used in a sinister sense as sophisticated or disingenuous interpretation. So what struck me at end of that is that you keep it in play and pay attention to the context rather than trying to take process drama out of that context but readily located. The notion that there is something potentially sinister seems a bit strong but the notion of establishing it more as an academically respectable discipline is interesting! Being in drama and theatre studies I guess I have a double edged feeling about that from this morning’s talk that drama isn’t serious or academic. There may be that bias and we do face it within the institution to a certain extent. However, I think for practitioners and people working in the field a lot of the post-structuralist notions or a lot of the notions of malleable identity and all of that are not surprising or radical or, you know, terribly shocking I suppose. And so, the theatrical is always suspect, isn’t it?
MS At this point it is perhaps appropriate to come back to what Dragan was saying. Were you implying, Dragan, that a glossary is a good idea, because then maybe the field becomes more respectable within an institutional setting?
MS So it’s necessary to embark on projects of this kind to demarcate and establish the field a bit more?
DM Exactly, especially if I think of the field of foreign languages. Colleagues would benefit tremendously if they had a better understanding of the terminology which tends to be used in the field and thus a better idea of a distinct area of specialisation, that is drama and theatre in foreign languages.
KF I think working on a glossary would be helpful because of the interdisciplinary conversations it would stimulate. I went to an event at my new University at Brunel/London and bumped into people from education. They were so interested in the kind of things we are doing in the Theatre Department. We realised that we have similar interests and do similar things but understand them a little differently. A glossary could enable that kind of interdisciplinary conversation. The term ‘identity’ is a good example. We could use the glossary to discuss how we both use and understand the term ‘identity’ in our work. It would help us building a work relationship by developing some sort of guideline of shared thinking.
MS I mean the process is certainly interesting. There will be exchange, exchange of views, it’s a very open discussion. You mightn’t end up with a very snappy short definition of a term but for the individuals involved the process itself could be a very helpful one. Because it clarifies certain things through discussion. You work in a field and have been taking lots of things for granted and all of a sudden somebody offers a different perspective and says, for example, “didactic means something completely different to me”, and so on. So you begin to think and reflect and see your own work from a fresh perspective …
BS At least it sensitizes everybody towards the fact that what we take for granted is not at all just automatically there.
MS So blue is not blue.
DM Are there any – ‘cause I’m not aware of it – glossaries already that we can use? Maybe that would be a starting point to see if there is anything that just crosses these boundaries, that there are examples in different disciplines so that we can relate to something and re-use that maybe in sense of recycling it and work from there, and add or remove or whatever.
MS As it happens Gerd Koch, a colleague from Berlin, sent me an email on October 19th and referred to the following links which might be helpful. I haven’t had a chance to check this out yet.
KF Could we start with any anecdotes or incidents that come to mind – like misunderstandings, things that got you into an argument with somebody, or when you struggled to explain something. Could we work from there?
MS We are coming back to the beginning of the talk you gave as part of the Symposium this morning in which you focused on strangeness. You asked participants to use the phrase “Strange for me is... “ and to come up with examples of what they found strange in the new culture/country. Yes, why not proceed in the same way in this circle and see if anyone has come across a term she or he found strange for some reason. If a term appears strange you become curious and want to find out more about how the other person has been using the term. Are there are instances, examples?
ROG I have one actually. When I said I worked in theatre somebody thought I was working in surgery.
ROG Yeah, big lights, cut people open.
BC Performing procedures.
MS In English you have the term ‘lecture theatre’. It might even be written somewhere and relate to a room in one of our buildings here? I mean this combination of lecturing and theatre is an interesting one, isn’t it? Students sit in a lecture room like in a theatre space and observe what is happening in that space. I guess the use of this term goes back to demonstration practices in anatomy, including the cutting open of corpses.
KF So how did the confusion arise, Roisin?
ROG The person probably thought I was working in a hospital, as a theatre nurse or something.
KF Oh, I see.
MS In any case it is interesting to note a specific approach to teaching and learning within the context of anatomy, isn’t it? So you’re cutting open, cutting out and all of those things ... (laughter) Well, you probably do something similar in many different disciplines. But let’s pause for a moment and check where we are now? Have we been meandering? Roisin, back to you perhaps: How did it make you feel when the person said that and associated the work you do with hospital instead of theatre? Is there still some irritation left on your part? Did this instance make you think, reflect further on the underlying causes for the confusion?
ROG I think maybe it just goes back to the cultural value of it, you know, this notion of having to make it respectable or that I don’t fit a certain image of what somebody would have of somebody working in the theatre. I was surprised but at the same time I understood, you know, somebody’s context wouldn’t have that particular perspective – this wouldn’t be somebody who would go to the theatre. And their encounter with theatre would be, you know, anaesthetic. I suppose I hadn’t thought about it a whole lot but I suppose I encountered that a lot in the culture here where I grew up and stuff, where people wouldn’t be theatre goers or makers. So theatre as we think of it wouldn’t be what would pop into their heads when they hear the word.
MS Are there any other examples, instances?
BC Sometimes talking, you know, just using the word ‘play’, people having very different ideas of what that means. Does it mean a text? Does it mean a production? Does it mean something else? And in using it interchangeably and, you know, talking about the play: “Did you get to see the play?” and thinking of the text at the same time as opposed to a production of the play script. I find that comes up quite often.
BS Not to mention the ‘game’.
MS In this context: How do you as native speakers of English respond to the long name of the German professional association: ‘Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Spiel & Theater’? ‘Play and Theatre?’ Would that work in English or sound rather awkward?
BS I think it sounds awkward in German too.
MS Does it?
DM I think so yeah. I find that strange as well.
MS Spiel und Theater?
KF No, I like ‘Spiel’ because it’s playful, it’s sort of the opposite to stating a commercial purpose.
DM That might be the difference because someone who is an expert in that area associates ‘Spiel’ as a term used in that area as something specific, so you have then kind of an idea what it means. However, if someone who isn’t a member of this association, isn’t an insider, hears ‘Spiel’ she or he would tend to associate ‘Kinder’, ‘children playing’ with it in the first place. For someone from outside this combination with ‘Bundes-’, so federal, might come across as pretty awkward?
MS Would you agree?
(most seem to agree)
DM So maybe if we want it to be a glossary for experts in the field so that they can communicate with one another, that is obviously going to be different from a glossary for the general public.
MC Yes, wouldn’t a glossary mean trying to make specific terminology accessible to everyone? It’s not just for the experts.
MS But if you say the experts can talk to each other and maybe don’t need a glossary, what about my example from the beginning when I referred to these four terms: ‘sculpture’, ‘freeze frame’, ‘tableau’ and ‘still image’: Do the experts really know what the difference is? Is that clear enough? Or perhaps not? And once people from the same and/or different disciplines begin to enter into a discussion and begin to explain to each other what they understand by ‘tableau’ wouldn’t that be helpful?
ROG But I mean those terms would be coming from fine art that we’ve appropriated imperfectly so they’d become interchangeable in our context and, you know, if there was a fine artist in here they’d be very clear about the distinctions between those particular examples so there is appropriation and you know that thing of theatre, of sort of beg, borrow and steal whatever works in the moment. And there is a particular value attitude always in the context. It’s the same with play. If you’re talking about going to see ‘the play’ it has a particular value but if you’re being played or playful, it is very different. Being played you are being taken advantage of, or being playful, is to be child-like or playing around which isn’t something we’re supposed to do – which is why we’re not serious academics. It gets into the values and hierarchies in the culture, and then the power that comes with that. And then playing around can become fooling around which can have a whole other context but that can get you into a very powerful position as the head of a very powerful nation … but that’s not the discussion.
ROG Which I find strange but anyway...
BC Being a player...
ROG Yea, being a player.
BC In this contemporary context it’s not as positive, as it once would have been the players.
ROG And yeah, so the antitheatrical prejudice is always with us it seems.
MS What about the term ‘playwright’?
BC Writing a play...
MS You don’t have ‘Spielschreiber’ but a ‘Stückeschreiber’.
BC And ‘Stück’ in German, ‘das Stück’, the play...
MS Is a piece...
ROG Maybe it is not so much a glossary as a kind of a pathway or a river or a tree or you know some way in which these flows and intersections can be mapped that you’d have to move along like the flow of the linking ideas? How might we represent that mobility and richness and yet keeping links to particular contexts?
BC And it’s kind of more like an act of borrowing, so we have kind of like loan words, ‘Lehnwörter’ and ‘Fremdwörter’, and that kind of thing. Sometimes it happens almost by chance whereas if you actively look, so I mean it’s so mutually enriching looking at the at the differences, and then why not, you know, borrow more and incorporate more borrowed terms.
ROG ‘Cause a ‘Spiel’....
BC ... means something different then. And ‘Handy’ means something different in German than it means in English and so when we can appropriate it and the meaning has completely changed. It’s fascinating.
MF When we talk about the drama/theatre glossary and refer to the term performative teaching and learning, one of the attractions to me is that the term widens the field. That’s why I’m interested in knowing quite where you draw the boundaries for the particular glossary. I mean in some ways saying it’s a drama theatre focus makes a lot of sense, because otherwise it starts to become really unwieldy, you get into aesthetics, art, and all the concepts of ‘progressive teaching and learning’ that have grown up in the last twenty or more years.
MS I guess at the centre of this should be the art form of theatre, but I suppose you would understand theatre in a broader, also applied context ....
MF Yes, that would seem to be enough to get on with, with just that.
MS I guess one line of thinking was that the term ‘performative’ could function as an umbrella term for culture-specific disciplines like ‘Theaterpädagogik’, ‘drama in education’, ‘jeux dramatiques’ and so on. Performative is a broad term, but I guess you need to look at the performative within a more defined context.
MF What about the term ‘applied theatre’? Is that widely used?
MS Not everyone likes to use it, but it is frequently used in the scholarly debate.
MF Well, some people here, Barbara, for example, seem to be shaking their head which is quite interesting.
BC Would you also not use the term ‘angewandt’, Barbara?
BS I think theatre is applied. I don’t see a need to talk about applied theatre actually. In the field that I am in I wouldn’t really talk about theatre much. I would talk about drama, because I think the term theatre is too much confined to the actual theatre and to a complete play that’s put on stage ... But that’s not to say I don’t like it, it’s perhaps too narrow in a way.
KF That’s interesting because in my definition of drama for level one performance studies the textbook says exactly the opposite. Here drama refers to the play text.
It’s the opposite association. Is that a particular German thing then that we think of ‘drama’ being more process based rather than referring to the actual written text?
MS I think in the German context drama very much means the written text, but if we move into the field of ‘Dramapädagogik’, in this context drama is understood more as a unique approach to teaching and learning. The way the term is used in German is very much linked to this British tradition of drama and education.
However, what about the concept of ‘dramatic art’? What would you associate with this term?
KF It sounds a bit old-fashioned, but maybe that’s just me having this kind of association.
MS Well, I wondered if it could perhaps be a sort of umbrella term covering not only theatre, but opera and whatever is drama of some kind? In German it would be ‘Dramatische Kunst’. So in that sense you would have drama as a very broad term within which you would have the theatre.
ROG But I think it would be a little bit with you as the old fashioned –
KF I think of big costumes and wigs.
ROG And we are post-dramatic, aren't we? To what extent are we post-dramatic?
I think in some ways the distinction you’re making between drama and theatre, I get the connotation, but for me ‘performance’ is a word that moves between them in different contexts. You know, so that that’s the linking piece: that you can be performing in the classroom or on the stage and you have different values and different meanings and different backgrounds, different aims for what it’s trying to do.
MF I totally agree with you. But a lot of people would disagree. There’s the fairly recent book by David Davis, who is at Birmingham University, on a new theory of drama and teaching. It’s very much emphasizing the experiential living through component. So it’s a recent text that seems for me to be re-visiting differences; it’s quite interesting that those differences are still around. And one difference is from the progressive tradition of “real” (in inverted commas!) feeling and experiential, ‘living through’ drama as opposed to the falseness of theatricality as it was seen in the fifties or before.
ROG That’s a whole other bag of cats there.
MS Yes, it seems.
ROG Like what is ‘real’ then?
BS Yes, let’s think about the ‘drama queen’. There is no equivalent ‘theatre queen’, right?
MF I mean we haven’t got a list for you but I think we’ve definitely demonstrated that it’s a really interesting exercise doing this.
MS Yes, we haven’t generated a list as such today of terms we urgently need to look at in collaboration with scholars, practitioners elsewhere. But we still have ten minutes to come up with that.
BC There are definitely no easy answers.
MS No, no.
MC What about going back to the basic idea of a glossary? If you are trying to define different terms, you’re trying to say what’s different about them and what’s the same about them. If you had like a list of characteristics you could say: ‘Ok, this term, these characteristics, one, two, three, are important, whereas these other characteristics do not necessarily have to become part of the definition’. So could you kind of proceed in that way? Would that work?
MS May I create a link to your own work which you presented yesterday when you defended your doctoral thesis. Just to explain: At the centre of Mandy’s work is the concept of ‘academic English’? So, what does that term mean if you look at it from your point of view or from within an Irish context? So what are, as you said, the characteristic features? Are there two, three, five characteristic features? And if you ask somebody else who happens to be in a different context to define it, I mean, would that person come up with the same characteristics? Probably not. However, then the discussion would ensue and in the course of it new, interesting perspectives would arise. I suppose we come back to the realization that the discussion process is of interest and of value. And you won’t come up with, you know, with forever cemented characteristics as someone is likely to enter the discussion at some stage and say: ‘hey, you forgot this aspect’ – thus perhaps paving the way towards a new edition of the glossary?
BS So, it’s all about the process, not the product.
MS In that case, yes. So it’s, in German, ‘prozessual’ – can you say ‘processual’ at all in English, a ‘processual undertaking’?
BS Procedural perhaps in English which would work in German as well: prozedural.
MS An interesting discussion again: ‘processual’ or ‘procedural’.
BC I don’t know... ‘processual’ has more open positive connotations for me than ‘procedural’. ‘Prozedur’.
BS Ja, ‘procedure’. Sounds like ‘Protokoll’.
MF You can imagine somebody reading a document and coming across the term ‘process drama’ or ‘applied teaching’ and ‘applied theatre’ and who has not come across that term before and might find it quite helpful to go to a glossary and a get an orientation of some kind.
BS So what would you write for that person ‘cause you would also need to know where that person comes from in order to give that person a particular kind of description?
KF For example, you could say: Applied theatre has developed in this particular British context …
MF The term has been used in this context in the sense of ….
KF ... it comes from –
BS A lot of terms are Latin or Greek in origin so very likely to be known in other languages except they may used in different ways.
KF But you would then aim at a sociocultural definition, go into the historical background, show how a term was used and give examples?
MS Etymology, is it? Are we in that territory? So, there is a specific term, ‘tableau’ or whatever it is: When did it emerge for the first time, how has it since been used? In what context(s)? That’s perhaps a starting point for any glossary: to make a joint effort to go back to the origins, even if you’d have to go back to Greek times. But you have to start there and then see what has evolved, so come from a historical perspective? So where are we now? Has the understanding of the concept undergone changes over the decades?
MF I mean, if you take another term like tableau from the process drama tradition or ‘thought tracking’. That term is in a way more specialised. I think it’s narrow because it comes out of a particular tradition. Again: If somebody comes across it and has not heard the term and read the term before, it’s a little easier to give an explanation and say ‘This is what it means in practice: Articulating thoughts aloud’ I think it’s one of those examples that does not lend itself toward the complexity we’re talking about. There will be different, more complex terms obviously.
MS Complexity, yes …
MF ‘Process drama’: I think would be impossible to give a short pithy explanation; you could, but it would be misleading. That would be the trouble.
MS Ok, I am afraid we will slowly have to wrap this up now because Mike will have to get to his taxi.
MF I can slip away if you want to spend another bit of time on that.
MS They all haven’t brought sandwiches from the other place and might be hungry, otherwise we could go on. At the end of this highly stimulating discussion I would like to invite you to reflect on key terms which are used in the area of pedagogy and performative arts by especially looking at the key terms used in your area of specialisation. What are the central terms and concepts you work with? It would be fantastic if you could come up with a list of up to ten terms. We could then, as a next step, compare our lists and see where there is some overlap, take those terms and examine them more closely. This can mean to go back to etymology et cetera, and our continued discussion process can then feed into the discussion amongst members of the group which has been convened by the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Spiel und Theater. Their next meeting will be on February 13th and 14th in Berlin. Is that a viable plan?
KF Sounds like a plan.
MS Great. So what I will do in that case: I will make our group discussion available via SCENARIO to everyone who participated today and also other colleagues who might be interested. Thank you to everyone in the room for contributing to the very engaging and thought-provoking discussion which we will hopefully continue in the near future. Have a lovely weekend.
BS Thank you, too!