drama student and i recently came across the danish
film style Dogma 95. I couldn't help noticing
some similarities to poor theatre and was wondering
if you have any thoughts on the subject.
best regards Linda
stated that ‘spectacle’ was taking us away
from the most important part of theatre, the immediacy
between the actor and the audience. This live
presence is the fundamental difference between film
and live theatre. This stands as a significant
difference between the two concepts.
impulse to simplify, to get down to the basics of performance,
is a commonality between the two approaches. As to
- Shooting on location (no imported props or sets)
- The technology of film allow shooting on
location, the requirements of theatre limit
you to a theatrical space.
- Grotowski’s theatre used carefully
selected and considered props, often representative
or suggestive such as a cloth cradled in an
actress’ arms becoming a baby.
- Sound and image produced together
is a commonality, more of a restriction for
film where this is often not the case than
theatre, although using ‘canned’ or
other artificially created sound is widespread
in theatre that Grotowski left behind.
idea that the ‘authentic’ sound
is more immediate and potentially powerful
is a commonality.
- A handheld camera
is analogous to the seating arrangements
at performances of Grotowski’s productions. He
got away from the traditional separation of
the actors from the audience, designing his
performance spaces to integrate the presence
of the audience into the production.
- Natural light
divergence. By definition there is
no natural light in a theatre, but it is also
a commonality in that Grotowski’s use
of lighting was spare, with few lighting effects
- No optical work or filters
is a commonality in that Grotowski’s
actors worked without makeup, presenting themselves,
their bodies without superfluous adornment.
- No superficial action (murders, weapons)
is a divergence. Grotowski’s
theatre was involved archetypes, invoking in
the audience’s recognition the basic
symbols and sounds that are recognized on a
deep level. The stories on which the
performances were based were often biblical,
of from the classics of literature and mythology.
- No temporal or geographic alienation
is a mixed bag. The stories in
Grotowski’s theatre were biblical or
classical invoking distant places or times,
but the presentation was immediate, real and
in direct proximity with the audience.
- No genre films
expand on the temporal/geographic answer
above, Grotowski’s work brought the classical/biblical
themes into an immediacy of the here and now
of live performance. But it is a different
here and now from everyday life. Dogma
95 seems to want to more closely represent
everyday life, Poor Theatre wants to present
a sharper pared down performance at a real,
yet symbolic, archetypical level.
- No signature
was the director and did not try to hide
that fact, but he did not try to glorify
it either. He would have had a similar
objection to the ‘auteur’ concept.
is an interesting parallel between the two theories,
the need to simplify, to get back to basics, to become
more ‘real’, but each is still within the
architecture of performance, film in one case, theatre
in the other. In both cases, the actors are actors,
what is being presented is a performance that was planned,
rehearsed and in the case of theatre, repeatable. Both
ideas involve the inherent contradiction between reality
simplified to get to a deeper truth, a deeper level
of communication; Dogma 95 seems to simplify to make
the film appear more ‘real’. Both
look for ways to make the performance more ‘immediate’.
interesting extension of this comparison would be to
include a contrast with the present ‘reality
TV’ so popular today, but so thin, so shallow
so much of the time.