Moreno Solinas, 26 January 2013

2 hours and 15 minutes.

Present: Tanya, Afsaneh, Igor, Flora, Camila, Simon, Giuliana, Adin, David, Kier,

Michael, and others…

Apologies for spelling mistakes.

What's the role of theatre? Is it a place to escape reality and forget about it? Or is it a

place to come to terms with your most burning issues?

Theatre can:

a. provide a service

b. trigger action

a. We all need to be reassured that our values, opinions, feelings are valid and that we

are not alone in this world. Theatre can offer us such service. We come out relieved,

we go on with our lives.

b. Theatre can install seeds in our minds. These seeds grow into thoughts,

conversations and ultimately in taking action.

a. The ‘service’ provided by theatre is ‘catharsis’. It can lead to passivity. E.g. you see

a play about the living conditions of African kids and you leave the theatre feeling

you've done something good, happier about yourself. Theatre can prevent you from

acting your life.

b. If catharsis is never reached we are potentially left with issues we'll need to solve

within our daily lives. It can lead to action. ‘anti-cathartic theatre’.

a. Passivity is potentially related to a story been ‘complete’, ‘rounded up’

b. Can open-ended-ness be a key to encourage further thought and action beyond the

performance temporal and spatial frame?

Can there be a ‘revolutionary catharsis’, a catharsis that leads to action? That would

be a catharsis that points at the problem, rather than find a temporary relief within the

frame of a performance. E.g. making audiences aware of their desire for catharsis.

Another way of looking at this dicotomy: We all need validation. Theatre can

provide it. There's nothing wrong with that.

TV and cinema are much better media for audiences to reach catharsis than live


There are different types of catharsis: soap opera catharsis, musical theatre catharsis,

high art catharsis…

There is always a moral judgment in catharsis.

Cathasis is essential for a healthy living. We constantly seek it through art. A

performance can contain more than one cathartic moment, shaping the specific

journey of that performance. The alternation of cathartic and non-cathartic moments

contribute to the strategies an artist employs to convey his/her content.

Twitter: encourages people to follow trends. Each conversation is obscured by the

following conversation. It doesn't encourage commitment, it doesn't encourage action.

On the other hand, activists use twitter as a way of gathering masses.

How can ‘commitment’ be generated? A real ‘need’ generates commitment, the need

of an artist to create a work, the need of audiences to make sense of certain aspects

of their own lives.

Self-segregating audience. We often go to see the work which is marketed to us

according to our gender, age, sexuality, race, etc.

Who is the catharsis for?

For the artist? for the audience? for both?

Emphasis on the possibility of catharsis being offered to the audience during a

performance, avoiding to slip into self-indulgence.

Action vs. Representation. The power of the performers executing actions without an

extra layer of interpretation. The artist becoming the vehicle for an audience to feel.

'Theatre can be a rehearsal for real life' (August Boal?). A space to practice something

you are not ready to do yet in the real world.

In Japanese culture the future is behind you, because you cannot see it. The past is in

front of you because you can see it.

How can we create the grounds for catharsis? In 2013 we cannot regard the

audience anymore as a unit. Our world is multicultural, all labels are questioned, it is

based on individuality.

Do we create work for a specific audience group? E.g. work which states clear political

message might appeal more to a teenage audience, as it articulates concepts that

often a teenager doesn't have the tools to articulate him-/herself.

Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed. Talks about catharsis as a form of control in

order to perpetuate existing social structures. A strategy to make people live their

fantasies in an abstract space, rather than in the real world.

On the other hand, can catharsis not be regarded as a process of eliminated some

‘blockages’ and therefore empowering audiences, rather than controlling them?

Arguably there is more truth in not giving a catharsis, rather that in giving a catharsis.

Catharsis doesn't belong to theatre, it belongs to drama.

'As you like it'

What needs to be cleansed in 2013? When creating a work, do you start from the

notion of what needs to be cleansed? Or do you just let that happen?

What are we scared of? Our own opinions, our fear of offending others, our fear of

saying what we think because everything nowadays is regarded a relative. The inertia

that post-modernism triggers is what we need to overcome. Passivity is what we

need to overcome. ‘The perfect play would only exist in your mind’. As soon as it's

made it is already imperfect. That doesn't mean it's not worth trying. The same is true

for love.

Post-dramatic theatre . The end of drama as a useful process.

Storytelling allows artists to connect with audiences . Losing the storytelling alienates


Immersive theatre is not necessarily the answer to making people engage with work

and concepts. Interaction is often superficial and leaves you in the same passive state.

Sometimes the distance of a sitting audience allows that space to reflect.

Cathartic properties of an anarchic approach to performance.

There is little apathy in London. But is that freedom or is it just induced by our jobs,

lovers, etc.?

'Who are you to tell me what I need to be cleansed from?'.

Can you self-induce a catharsis?

We still read novels. A novelist is our cleanser. We do it individually.

Perhaps catharsis is not meant to trigger action at all! Catharsis = Cleaning. Maybe

something else should trigger actions.

A documentary can be cathartic. You see a documentary about a slaughterhouse and

might become vegetarian for a while. If you visit a slaughterhouse yourself, though,

you might become vegetarian for longer. Power of live performance: goes deeper

into the skin, the bones, the mind…

Necessity of safety as a basis for catharsis to happen. The audience is safe, the

performer is safe. The action is repeatable. It is a ritual. It is set somewhere between

fiction and reality. Polarity between quality and equality; virtuosity and accessibility;

elitism and participation.

New Trial (by Peter Weiss). Best example of the troublesome nature of catharsis.

Other references:

• Victor Turner

Joan Littlewood


Kafka. Trial


twitter, Theatre, Audience, Performance, dance, Dance, commitment, audience, role

of theatre, performance, moreno solinas, moreno, catharsis, action, individualism,

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