Reaalsuse re/presenteerimise strateegiad etenduskunstides / Strategies to Re-(Present) Reality in the Performing Arts


  • Anneli Saro University of Tartu



representation, reality, realism, presentations, perfroming arts


Contemporary theatre, and performing arts in general, no longer seems to be interested in the representation of illusion and reality. There seems to be an increasing emphasis on free play or/and an immediate presentation of reality. And, thus, the mainstream is moving towards the aesthetics of performance art and happenings, where recurrence is shunned and improvisation is emphasized on one hand, while the boundary between performance and reality is obscured on the other. This means that representative theatre, where performers and objects signify someone/something other, is retreating to give way to presentative theatre, where the performers and objects primarily signify themselves. 

In the light of the aforementioned, this paper attempts to answer the following questions: how has the presentation of reality in theatre changed over the last forty years, how does presentative theatre differ from representative theatre and does presentative theatre arrive at a deeper/more objective understanding of reality or merely create yet another illusion? In order to answer these questions, the complicated relationship between art and reality as well as issues intrinsic to realist theatre are analysed. The author attempts to prove that it is difficult to find anything fundamentally new in 21st century theatre practice. A lot of the currently fashionable strategies are further developments of older waves, such as realism, or experiments placed in a new temporal and cultural context. 

Considering the physical relationship between performing arts and reality, the third section of the paper analyses three strategies of (re-)presenting reality:

1. Presenting the elements of reality on stage: performances of documentary material in as authentic a manner as possible, i.e. the self-presentations of so-called regular people or actors, etc.

2. Giving reality an artistic framework: audience tours through the city led by guide(s)/performer(s) or audio guides.

3. Imitating reality outside of the artistic space: performers are disguised as non-performers; their actions and the resulting consequences outside of the theatre.

In conclusion, we can claim that theatre practitioners are aware of the inherent illusionism in modern society and the medium of theatre as well as the shattering of authenticity. And, thus, they attempt to represent and perceive the intrinsic elements of reality. The globalized world contains a lot of different realities and viewpoints and it is the obligation of the artist to deal with the (re-)presentation of the realities that go unrepresented by the media and social consciousness. In a shattered and alienated world, the need to find contact with reality increases. This need is alleviated by the artistic (re-)presentation of reality, which allows us to find common ground or a point of contact between different worlds and different realities, alleviated, in turn, by artistic communication. 


Download data is not yet available.




Most read articles by the same author(s)