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How Crimp's Open Texts help keep live performance a 'Cool' medium (McLuhan) for audiences.

By Tim Moss


Martin Crimp’s open texts (writerly texts - Barthes) Attempts on her Life, Face to the Wall and Fewer Emergencies have posed theatrical challenges to both theatre makers and spectators alike over the last eight years. The texts blur the division between fictionality and reality: onstage personas aggressively contradict each others’ descriptions (to the audience) of the central yet absent main protagonist (Attempts on her Life); a performer is unsure of the sequence of events he is supposed to be relating and is corrected by another, who is absent from the frame of the first performer's theatrical world (Face to the Wall); there are no fictional characters present on stage, only opinions and unreliable narrators. \ud \ud Implicit in these texts is the need for a working relationship to be developed between the performance and the audience that goes beyond that expected by spectators of dramatic theatre; the audience are complicit in the event because their presence seems to them to have altered the rules of the performance. \ud \ud Crimp has encoded in his writerly texts the notion that one theatrical form will not be enough to realise the totality of the information contained therein. The need for diverse performance modes means that the final performance can never be totally removed from the reality of its attempt to manufacture itself onstage.\ud \ud In this paper I will explore Crimp’s methods of creating his fictional/real performance dimension and look at performances of his work as case studies, with reference to Marco de Marinis' definition of and questioning of the 'openness' of text and the concept of the 'Model Spectator'

Topics: PN2000
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