Disk 40 (jun 2012)


The Disk magazine No. 40 opens with Prof. Július Gajdoš’s essay “Postmodernism among Us”. The impulse for writing was an exhibition in London called Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990 in the Victoria and Albert Museum from 24th September 2011 to 15th January 2012. Exhibition organizers and editors of the catalogue had good reasons not to search for some unambiguous definition or clearly define limits of a style itself and its relationship to modernism. They attempted to get brief characteristics of thirty years of art development and visual presentation of products which then drew attention because of their rareness. It is not a coincidence that they paid greatest attention to postmodern architecture, yet they also dealt with other arts and design so fashion, post hip hop, photography, stories or abstract figural systems could not be missing at the exhibition. The exhibition was an opportunity for the author of the text to contemplate on connections and differences between modernism and postmodernism, or modernity and postmodernity: this idea uses several examples from architecture to refer to rudimentary postmodern uncertainty as well as common roots of postmodernity which things that preceded it.

Prof. Jan Císař’s article “Boundaries and Extremity” is dedicated to two performances of the National Theatre in Prague. The author sees their dramatic basis in efforts of the ensemble to span and offer their viewers as a wide scope of methods and results participating in the language of drama today as possible. Nebeský’s performance of King Lear completely abandons a traditional interpretation method and creates a scenic form where an image is essential, i.e. visual and creative form of the performances. It forms original reality which is even more unusual because everything is performed synchronically, so a relationship of individual elements is polyphonic. In the National Theatre, Ne-beský’s performance – regarding a position of this institution in Czech culture – represents certain extremity which asks questions about borders or at least a framework where the National Theatre drama can satisfy relevant cultural demands; on the other hand, it asks a question of forms of contemporary staging from the point of the relationship of theatre and the present. Dočekal’s performance of a half documentary, half fiction text by Lucy Prebble called Enron plays an important role in the repertoire of the National Theatre drama and it also widens stylistics of its scope.

The following two contributions deal with speech. In her essay “Strong Voice”, Prof. Zdenka Švarcová draws from the fact that voice is similar to sight (in a visual domain) or touch (in a domain of tact), yet they cannot be compared with voice speaking about produced energy. The author asks a question: “If sight is demonstration of vision and touch is demonstration of tact, […] which sense is demonstrated by voice”? Would it be possible to invent a new word “mluv” ? Whether this term is applied or not, the author convincingly points at the essential importance of culture of neglected speech. And she may be right when she says: “When we added ‘mluv’ to the group of five senses, we opened a way for a regressive perspective on meaningfulness of a human life which lies in mutual com-munication. If a scientist wants to persuade us that there are no Senses resulting from scientific epistemology, there is ‘no Great Constructor’ ruling the world, Evolution does not lead anywhere and Life has no Sense’, we argue that every important “message” – let it be a nice look, friendly embrace or sincere reassurance, it will make sense for us, although it is sense with a small ‘s’.”

In his study “Scenology of Speech”, Prof. Vostrý claims that everything connected with voice and speech is re-lated to transmitted and accepted vibrations during communication as well as our presence in space and ability to create it with this presence. “This is to show how neglecting the speech can have an influence (in mutual cooperation of speaking and listening) or its cultivation to the level of contemporary drama acting, staging, self social aging and communication in general.” We speak about possibilities of vocal and (‘purely’) lexical expression which fights with voice on the level of speech and the other way round: when using speech, people do not use only their voice, other organic precondition of the speech but also words which help them with their acoustic particularity and interfere with their semantic generality. Generally, it is an experience of words and their connections or use when creating consis-tent experience in the case of successful poetry. “Acoustically realized mental and physical experience of speeches constitutes an important part of actor’s experience as well as important and immediate (organic) impulse of his/her specific scenic behaviour/acting.”

Doc. Josef Valenta wrote the study “Prolegomena for a Research Method¬ology of Education Drama” and its first part is printed in this issue. It is the part where the author deals with definition of a phenomenon called ‘research’ and its basic paradigms – using definitions of the field and its interdisciplinarity – as well as explanation of several basic points of view of a research connected with dramatic education. The author adds a brief overview of basic research paradigms (qualitative and quantitative, among others) to general characteristics of a research and its features as specific human activities. He also lists several points of view – three of them have been selected for this article: 1. research for theatre or education drama (research activities for a dramatic play), 2. theatre or education drama as a research or a research through theatre, or a research through education drama (a theatre dramatic activity as cogni-tion; there is also space for brief characteristics of so called artistic research, a research in practice, ethnography of performance etc); 3. theatre or education drama as a research report (which accentuates a scenic result of the research, i.e. a scenic act as a “research report”). Other three types will be characterized in the second part.

Concerning history of theatre, Klára Břeňová deals with theatre activities in the ghetto in Theresienstadt (“Stages in Theresienstadt Which Represented the World”). PhD student Mgr. Pavel Bár writes about the performance of famous Voskovec’s and Werich’s adaptation of American musical Finian’s Rainbow: they used this performance (Divotvorný hrnec in Czech) to introduce this genre in Czechoslovakia after the war. Mgr. Martin Maryška’s study “Expanded Space of a Stage Graphic design of the Theatre on the String” strives for understanding of aesthetic relation between graphic design and specific scenic manifestation on the example of posters and brochures of this theatre for performance from 1968 to 1989. The principle of irregularities and openness, accepted as a predominant programme basis, was applied here with various creative means (drawings, photography, collages, concepts etc) in production of numerous artists (Mysliveček, Ždímal, Stejskal, Skalník, Zavarský etc.). They were united by a search for a staging key common in all theatre components: graphic design should not be mere illustration of the perform-ance. Maryška’s study focuses on the means how artists portrayed author acting in press materials as well as meta communicative reflection of graphic and theatre language with the effort of promised authenticity.

In Disk 40, you can also find Karel Kraus’s translation of Neveux’s play Plainte contre inconnu. Josef Čančík’s and Vít Šimek’s “Ephemera Architecture for Ji.hlava” represents non theatre scenography commented on by the first author. Concerning the text “Once More about a ‘Golden Egg’”, it is Michael Prostějovský’s and Pavel Bár’s response to polem-ics of their article “The Phenomenon of Czech Musicals” printed in the last issue; the author of the article “Troubles with a Golden Egg” was Jana Machalická. Michael Prostějovský’s post scriptum requires an editor’s note: words of a “non professional” contain various mistakes or prejudices; yet it will always be appreciated because of its ‘outer’ point of view, i.e. as an unprejudiced correction of an opinion influences by one’s (Prostějovský) activity in the field.