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The Power of Performance: Actors, Audiences and Observers of Cultural Performances in India

Heidrun Bruckner (Editor) Phillip B. Zarrilli (Editor) Elisabeth Schombucher (Editor)
Synopsis The volume aims at examining the transformative power of performances from three perspectives: that of the performer, of the audience and of the observer.  In part I, different rituals are studied from the perspective of the performers, their physical enactment and their techniques of empowering a performance and creating presence.  What makes their performance meaningful, true, efficient? How do they empower a performance? Is it words, action, charisma, or merging the individual personality with the enacted character? The papers in part II switch over to the perspective of the audience.  The meaning and the impact of power cannot be derived from the actor alone.  The decision about the authenticity of a performance or about its failure is to a large extent taken by the audience.  The contributions to part II show that there might be an objective meaning in a performance, but it is also subjectively made by each member of the audience.  In part III, problems of cultural translation and representation are dealt with from the perspective of the outside observer.  Assuming that actors, participants and audience understand a performance in accordance with their respective cultural and personal background, it becomes essential to consider that not observing and describing, but acting oneself is the way to obtain new insights into how the power of performance is obtained.  This has resulted in another approach: observers learning to be performers themselves.  Three scholars-cum-performers provide new insights into what exactly empowers a performance, what it means to give up one's own individual personality, what it means to taste emotions and make the audience taste them as well. 
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About the authors

Heidrun Bruckner

Heidrun Bruckner (b.1949) is Professor of Indology and South Asian Studies at the university of Wurzburg, Germany. She is the Author of a monograph on texts and rituals of Tulu folk religion (Furstliche Feste, Wiesbaden 1995) and co-editor of Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer's Essays on Khandoba (Delhi 1997), his Essays on Religion, Literature and Law (Delhi 2004), and a volume of essays in his memory In the Company of Gods (Delhi 2005).

Phillip B. Zarrilli

Phillip B. Zarrilli is internationally known for training actors through Asian martial/meditation arts and as a director.  He is currently Professor of Performance Practice within the Drama Department, University of Exeter.  He has published numerous books and essays on Kathakali dance drama and Kalarippayattu.

Elisabeth Schombucher

Elisabeth Schombucher teaches Social Anthropology at the Universities of Heidelberg and Wurzburg.  She has conducted extensive fieldwork and published widely on the performative aspects of spirit possession and spirit mediumship in India.  Her present research focuses on death and dying among Hindus in the West.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Power of Performance: Actors, Audiences and Observers of Cultural Performances in India
Format Hardcover
Date published: 08.02.2007
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788173047688
length 290p., Plates; Figures; Notes; 24cm.