Disk 42 (December 2012)

In June 2012, ten years had passed since the first issue of the Disk magazine was published. Yet the Institute for Dramatic and Scenic Art Research at the DAMU was established in 2001 with the help of Doc. Markéta Schartová, the Dean of the DAMU at that time, and Prof. Jan Císař, the Head of the Department of Theory and Criticism. The journal was supposed to provide publication of the result from the Institute as well as the launch and development of its activities when attracting colleagues from various disciplines. The journal was also supposed to initiate activities of PhD students of scenic production and theory of scenic production because the Institute became their training place.

The fact, that results of research activities have become the important factor when evaluating quality of universities and acquiring funds for their development was not the crucial condition; this point of view was not so pressing at that time. The impulse was a natural need: to transform assumptions, processes and results of dramatic and scenic production and their application into an object of research where all three aspects (conditions, a creative process and results including application of its products) and both elements (a specifically dramatic one and a generally scenic one) meet as well as an inseparable connection of history (or long‑term tendencies) and live theatre. The activity of the theatre faculty has the same precondition the research needs for its development. When planning and realizing activities of the Institute, it was clear from the very beginning that this research must have a wider subject than that provided by theatre productions in order to be prolific especially in the time when basically anything is considered to be theatre.

In December 2002, Disk 2 was published and since then, Disk has been published quarterly. The Centre of Basic Research of the AMU and the MU coordinated by Prof. Ivan Kurz took care about funding the research about ‘art and technology’ from 2005 to 2011. Ing. Tamara Čuříková was an important colleague to Prof. Kurz and helped him with all administrative and economic complications when establishing and developing the Centre. Thanks to the Centre, Prof. Václav Syrový was willing to contribute to Disk with some of his essays (e.g. “On the Origin of the Sounds” in Disk 4 and “Sound as an Autonomous Aesthetic Object?” in Disk 21). Speaking about production and distribution, the Karel Kerlický’s KANT publishing house participated in publication in 2006 after the AMU publishing house withdrew from the contract. KANT also takes care of the Disk series we started to publish in 2005 when readers could buy the first books. Martin Radimecký takes care of the visual form of the magazine and books.

The editorial board has basically had the same structure since the beginning of the Centre in 2005: Jan Císař, Tamara Čuříková, Július Gajdoš (both of them founded the Centre, yet it has not been possible for them to participate in the activities recently), Jan Hyvnar, Ivan Kurz, Zuzana Sílová (Deputy Editor in Chief), Václav Syrový, Miroslav Voj­tě­chov­ský and Jaroslav Vostrý (Editor in Chief); in 2008, we managed to persuade doc. Vladimír Justl, the lecturer in Czech studies, who recently passed away, to be on the board as well as Prof. Zden­ka Švarcová, the Japanologist, Prof. Fran­ti­šek Šmahel; Prof. Wojciech Dudzik from the Warsaw University and Prof. Joseph Rostinsky from the Tokai University in Japan. Karel Kerlický has been a member of the board, which also supervises the Disk series, since mid‑2010.

Scenology as a discipline examining the scenic aspect of human behaviour could then become a theoretical and methodical basis of our research in the Centre. We try to focus on new possibilities of staging opened by the development of technologies related to rapid development of so‑called new media. Based on the difference of art and media relation (which are also two aspects of theatre), it allows us to have a scenologic point of view as well as a more differentiated attitude to its own forms and methods. It was possible to develop numerous topics, which appeared in the journal, in books published in our series (see the book Staging in the Time of General Staginess. An Introduction to Scenology by the author of this introduction that is going to be published by the end of this year.

General staginess asks questions about differentiation of non‑specific and specific (especially art) demonstrations in a new way, yet it also allows to perceive the issue of space where the non‑specific and specific meets including the issue of culture management (see the published PhD theses by Daniel Hrbek – Building of Theatre – and Jiří Šesták – Theatre, Culture, Conditions. Personal Experience), so‑called culture industries (see the polemics in Disk 37 due to Július Gajdoš’s article “Creative Industries: Development of Culture or New Market Totalitarianism?” in Disk 32) and an event (see Alexandr Gregar’s PhD thesis City and /Its/ Theatre. A Story of a Mound in Hradec Králové: From Elizabeth Richeza to Annie Girardot, on Modern Traditions of Urban Dionysia) which is going to be published.

Grants play an essential role speaking about finances. Two projects financed by the Czech Science Foundation were dedicated to acting and generational aspects of its forms and ways related to its development in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. Jan Hyvnar’s book Of Czech Dramatic Acting of the 20th Century accompanied by the second edition of his book The Actor in Modern Theatre (On 20th Century Theatre Reforms) originated from journal essays. Hyvnar’s studies about acting virtuosos of the late 19th and early 20th century were published in our series. Another output was Zuzana Sílová’s and Jaroslav Vostrý’s book Is the art of Acting Still Possible Nowadays? as well as Z. Sílová’s previously published study DISK Generation 1945 (Of Jaroslava Adamová and Jaromír Pleskot); another volume was collective monograph Generation and Continuity (On Czech Scenic Art of the 20th Century): Zuzana Sílová was an editor here and PhD student Pavel Bár, her colleague at the Centre, contributed to this book with his essays related to entertaining and music theatre based on mime and miming. Zuzana Sílová and Jaroslav Vostrý participated on their book Is the art of Acting Still Possible Nowadays? and numerous preparatory studies have been published for its planned monograph Comedians on Czech Stages. PhD student Tereza Šefrnová deals with varieties of conditions for acting production (see her essays about the origin of Broadway performances in Disk 39 and 41).

Regarding the published dissertations dedicated to forms and ways of acting, we should highlight work of Doc. Jiří Šípek called Psychological Connections of Scenic Production which summarizes results of numerous studies published in the journal. Dissertations by Eliška Vavříková (Mimesis and Poiesis) and Maja Jawor (Voice and Movement) see this issue differently. The above‑mentioned texts and Hana Varadzinová’s dissertation Scenicity and Musicality (which has not been published) were written as results of ethno‑scenologic research supported by the PhD grant from the Czech Science Foundation. The research was conducted due to preparations of the legendary performance by Farm in the Cave Sclavi/The Song of an Emigrant which made its director Viliam Dočolomanský famous (meanwhile, he completed his PhD studies and wrote some articles to Disk when he had less worries about his world‑famous (yet financially unsafe) company; see his studies ”Spanish Inspiration” in Disk 3 and “Emigrants’ Letters” in Disk 15: these are Ruthenian emigrants whose American letters were one of the sources of inspiration for the performance of Sclavi). Research of forms and ways, which is still the main object of the Institute, is a testimony of merging theoretical research and research which takes place in specific scenic space – speaking about specific staging.

When developing specific ways of staging and their function in culture, it is basically a permanent interaction of ‘mime and ‘miming (or a scenic or clownish element) on the one hand and drama (with texts and spoken theatre) on the other hand. Let us compare clashing of these elements in Karel Čapek’s work recorded in contributions by PhD student Klára Novotná and dramaturgy student Hana Nováková in Disk 38 dedicated to Čapek’s dramaturgy and directing activities in the Vino­hrady Theatre, yet he was the object of interest of PhD student Jana Horáková from Brno and current PhD student Jana Cindlerová (see her study dedicated to White Disease in Disk 39).

If we want to clarify the relation of a theatre text and a performance in contemporary theatre, Jan Císař’s thoughts represent an important contribution because they draw from tendencies of modern Czech theatre. Some of them can be found in the book Czech Theatre Tradition: A Myth or Reality? (see also his study „Tyl’s Theatre Synthesis“ from the anthology Josef Kajetán Tyl 1808–1856–2006–2008). Studies by the author of this introduction were dedicated to the drama issues and were essentially developed in the book Scenology of Drama preceded by Július Gajdoš’s contributions summarized in the Volume 1 of our edition called From the Drama Technique to Scenology; Július Gajdoš analyzed some plays in Disk 12, 13 and 34.

The term ‘acting dramaturgy’ promoted by Zuzana Sílová proved to be an essential one and it was used in the series of articles “the play xy as a dramaturgic problem” from the point of view of acting and directing as well as the text of the play and the performance. Speaking about the position of contemporary Czech dramaturgy and a relation of contemporary Czech theatre and Czech classic modern features in drama, the contribution written by Milan Šotek (the PhD student, the dramaturge of the theatre in Olomouc and the head of the Calembour cabaret) dedicated to Šrámek’s Moon Above the River in Disk 37 tells a lot. Lenka Chválová was also inspired by the term acting dramaturgy in her dissertation From Tyl’s Actresses to Sklenářová‑Malá, whose first part was dedicated to Tyl’s female acting dramaturgy and should be published by the end of this year; the author continues to work on the part dedicated to Czech female acting in relation to the development of 19th century Czech drama.

We should definitely mention the research of PhD student Petra Honsová and her study dedicated to Jiřina Třebická and Jiří Hálek. I dealt with the relation of so‑called ‘acting in life’ and the art of acting in my study „Between (Self)Staging and Dramatic Acting“ in Disk 36 and I drew attention to the link between the issue of acting and behaviour/acting including its internally tactile perception (according to Zich) in the study “Scenic Influence and Mirror Neurons” in Disk 28. Contributions by Jan Hančil also speak about acting (see his essay “Charisma and its Actor” in Disk 30 and the study about Western reception of Stanislavski published in this issue). Hančil also wrote the study “On Audience Strategies of Dialogical Acting” in Disk 34 and provides important support as the Dean of the Theatre Faculty.

In regard to specific staging, we found an important source of new points of view due to three Czech‑Japanese symposiums, which took place in cooperation with the Theatre Department of the Waseda University in Tokyo: we compared Western and Eastern (Japanese) theatre and their relation to the nature of local general staging; see the contributions by Prof. Zdenka Švarcová (and her translations of plays about Mrs Komachi by famous Noh theatre representative Zeami Motokiyo) and Denisa Vostrá, who studied with Prof. Švarcová years ago and cooperated with Petr Holý, the Japanologist, on two excerpts from famous Zeami’s treatise about acting from 1424. When the Institute started to focus on Asian and South American specific and non‑specific staging, the first text about tango as a specific phenomenon of Argentinean culture was written by Helena Kubíčková and published in Disk 6. Stanislav Slavický, who knows the issues very well due to his diplomatic missions in the above‑mentioned countries, wrote two studies: the first one was dedicated to scenic tradition of South‑East Asia in Disk 38 and the second one was about the issue of Venezulean scenicity can be found in this issue. Klára Břeňová’s essay “From Purim to Yiddish theatre“ in Disk 17 must not be forgotten.

Contributions dedicated to European theatre were the subjects of our thoughts about a contemporary form of theatre; we often dealt with them in the context of non‑theatre staging. The authors were Jitka Pelechová, Zuzana Sílová, PhD students Pavel Bár, Jana Cindlerová, Petra Honsová (in this issue), Štěpán Pácl, Prof. Július Gajdoš and the writer of this introduction. Josef Herman and director Jiří Heřman wrote about European operas. Josef Herman was interested in contemporary Czech theatre seen from the point of view of long‑term tendencies; Jan Císař and Jana Cindlerová had the same mission concerning drama and Pavel Bár wrote about musical and operetta. Josef Herman was also interested in important phenomena from the field of amateur theatre (see Jan Císař’s essay “Out of Institutional Territory” in Disk 38.

The long‑term tendencies are demonstrated on the confrontation of ‘big’ and ‘small’ theatre on the background of relations between socially‑cultural phenomena of the public and the private, the official and the alternative, the professional and the amateur, which are perceived from the historical and international points of view (see the essays “The Scene and the Cellar” in Disk 5 a “Great Theatre and the Need for Distance” in Disk 41 by the author of this introduction, who also participated in the study “Is Great /Drama/ Theatre Still Possible Nowadays?” printed in Disk 21 and 22) as well as the issue of ensemble theatre and acting (see Jan Císař’s studies in Disk 2 and 3, Jana Cindlerová’s articles in Disk 29, 36 and 37 and Zuzana Sílová’s essays in Disk 24 dedicated to the Slovácko Theatre, Buranteatr and the drama of the South Bohemian Theatre I participated in); we followed the last topic in articles about foreign theatres and contemporary history of Czech theatre (see Otomar Krejča’s essays in Disk 3 a 6; we dedicated almost the whole Disk 39 to this star). As far as long‑term tendencies are concerned, we cannot forget a deeper context foreshadowed by Július Gajdoš’s articles in Disk 40 (“Postmodernism Among Us”) and 41 (“Modernism in Us”).

The issue of general staging includes the issues of word and speech scenicity (in their mutual relation – see the study by Zdenka Švarcová and Jaroslav Vost­rý in Disk 40 and the preceding study by Prof. Švarcová “Phenomenon, Scene, Sign” in Disk 27 and D. Vostrá’s article “The Concept of Kotodama or Japanese ‘Spirit of Words’” in Disk 36 as well as my essay dedicated to the prosodic aspect of Zeyer’s Radúz and Mahulena included in the corrected version of the book Scenology of Drama. We also need to count with studies by deceased Jiřina Hůrková including the essay from the anthology Josef Kajetán Tyl 1808–1856–2006–2008 as well as Jaromír Kazda’s article “Karel Hugo Hilar and Stage Speech” in Disk 25 and “The Contribution to Eduard Vojan’s Treatment of Voice” in Disk 33 as well as Viliam Dočolomanský’s article “An Injured Healer” dedicated to Ida Kelarová, which focused on discovering possibilities and cultivation of vocal expression. It is also about a (staging) confrontation of both the visual and figurative and speech elements: see the book Word and Image on the Stage by PhD students Jana Cindlerová, Tereza Marečková and Štěpán Pácl as well as Pavel Ondruch, who graduated as the drama director. They deal with staging issues in Czech drama from Tyl through Čapek and Langer to Topol and Lagronová (we printed her plays as well as those by Přemysl Rut, Michal Lang, Július Gajdoš, Martin Glaser, Olga Šubrtová, Jiří Šípek, Milan Uhde, Pavel Landovský and Lenka Chválová; their index can be found at casopisdisk.amu.cz.

An issue of scenicity in space is essential, too – we should deal with stage design; see the work by Kateřina Miholová about interactive reconstructions of the most important products of Czech stage design performed with the help of two grants from the Czech Science Foundation. Her supervisor was Prof. Jan Dušek. Kateřina Miholová has also written books dedicated to Grossman’s and Fára’s performance of Jarry’s Ubu the King with outputs on DVD‑ROMs. Let us compare Miholová’s work with Jiří Heřman’s article about his work as a director (see his essay about human perception and creativity in Disk 12 and the study „The Current Topic: Space!“ in Disk 15) and a noteworthy study by Prof. Albert Pražák Interspace dealing with the topic related to Japanese mah: it was Denisa Vostrá’s topic in Disk 34 and she also wrote a contribution about convergences between ritual connotations of a Japanese House and space of traditional Japanese theatre in Disk 26 as well as “another essay about research of Japanese perception of space” in Disk 41.

Radovan Lipus also dealt with issues of scenicity of specific and non‑specific space; see his PhD thesis Scenology of Ostrava published as a book and articles dedicated to the relation of staging in architecture and urbanism as well as civil staging as a means for inhabitants’ identification with a specific place (in Disk 18 and 28). Josef Valenta keeps writing about scenicity and staging of behaviour. Valenta developed the issues researched in numerous articles and studies in his book Scenology of (Everyday) Behaviour. Valenta’s essay dedicated to scenology of a landscape draws from articles in the journal, whereas this author has recently dealt with the application of staging by Communist secret police (“Kameny/Stones Action – StB and the Fictitious State Border”) in Disk 35. In Disk 40 and 41, he dealt with methods of research in the field of educational drama. He did not avoid the issue of (‘civilian’) masking (because of Chiarelli’s comedy The Mask and the Face in the contribution in Disk 32). Jana Jiroušková (“The Mask in Traditional African Culture”) in Disk 14 and Július Gajdoš (“The Mask – the Means of Staging Spiritual Images of the World”) in Disk 36 analyzed the topic of a mask in the original sense. Denisa Vostrá wrote about traditional Nuo Chinese masks in Disk 23. Tereza Nekovářová published the article “Signalization in Social Interactions of Various Animals: Staging in the Animal World” in Disk 37.

It was possible to communicate important ideas about the issue, which became topical in the field of humanities and culture in relation to so‑called iconic or performative twist and development tendencies from representation to presentation and from an image to an object. Except for the above‑mentioned studies dedicated to the issue, Markéta Machačíková’s essay “Stuffing Animals. Of the Current Forms of Taxidermy and Damien Hirst” in Disk 33 deals with this topic as well. Speaking about the issues of a relation between an image and performance/narration, numerous contributions have been written about it – see the book Image and Narrative by M. Vojtěchovský we published with the support from the Czech Science Foundation in the English version as well; the essential from what Miroslav Vojtěchovský developed from the beginning of our journal using examples from photography and visual studies in general could be used there. František Šmahel’s essay “Taming of Wild People in Scenic Stories of Medieval Imagination” in Disk 36 deals with the issue of an image and a story and Jaroslav Vostrý contemplated about the relation of an image and a stage in Disk 34.

Přemysl Rut dealt with the issue of a story in his contributions in Disk 6, 8 and 23. We do not want to neglect special issues of staging in literature and a relation of oral and literal traditions (see the contributions of Jiří Šípek called “Myths. Sagas, Scenicity” in Disk 28 and “Scenicity in Literal and Oral Tradition” in Disk 28 as well as Denisa Vostrá’s study “From an Observation in Traditional Japanese Poetry Tanka to Scenes of Modern Haiku” in Disk 30. Speaking about the relation of scenicity, staging, performativity and special art of performance, it was Július Gajdoš who conducted thorough research and summarized it in his book From a Production to Installation, From Acting to Performance. Even the author of this introduction wrote about his opinion about the issue of experiments with new identification of the object of theatre research in the conditions of general staginess and a relation of scenology and theatre research and published it as “From Theatri(ci)sm to Scenology?” in Disk 38 and 39.

The list clearly shows a relation of books published in the Disk edition with studies published in the journal. The above‑mentioned book could hardly originate without studies like this. Yet we must ask the question: would it be the same if the contributions were promoted at symposiums or conferences, which take place more often, when the contributions are often excerpts from the PhD thesess and could be discussed more intensively at seminars? Essays and articles in Disk do not seem to raise professional discussions. Actually, it is not surprising when some (scarce) reactions to published books apparently lack qualification and they are undoubtedly influenced by competition in the environment which must rely on grants.

Generally speaking, existing conditions for grants elicit overproduction of outputs and publishing which results in the surplus of the offer of published books. The interest in magazines suffers from this clear disproportion: there is also greater interest in books than in a journal speaking about the Disk project. Yet this is quite logical; requires were more intensive editorial work, therefore it was time to decide what to focus on having limited energy, finances and interest.

During the decision process, we had to draw from the contents which resulted in the question: is it time to assess each proposal for publication and focus on a specific topic in partial studies which would help finish and publish them in a collective monograph? The editorial board and other colleagues answered: yes, it is. This is the reason why we will not publish the journal Disk anymore and we would like to thank to all the people who participated in its publishing and I’d like to give special thanks to the readers. Now we can focus on our series. I think we are going to continue in the tradition of 10 years, improve the Disk series and develop research we had in mind when we founded Disk ten years ago.

Jaroslav Vostrý

Translation Eliška Hulcová