The Actor and Pataphysics

The performance lecture «The Actor and Pataphysics. A supplement to discourse on contemporary performative contracts» was developed by Per Bogstad Gulliksen (NO), Jan Skomakerstuen (NO) and Morten Bruun (NO).

The project was granted support by Arts Council Norway and was implemented in collaboration with Sibiu Performing Arts Marked 2017 (RO) and Norli Eldorado (NO).

This project was supported by The Arts Council of Norway.

The issue
Performativity is in this performance lecture understood to be the performers presence and actions, and what form it finds when engaging with an audience. It could be as Human, Actor, Role or Character.

How does the actor identify with these four aspects when working?
Often the actor have a horizon of understanding which leads to the realm of traditional dichotomies such as realistic – theatrical, physical – psychological, acting – non-acting. In some situations one can question wether it should be play-feeling or play- being. Confronted with such dichotomies the actor is often lead to the pretext of utility and logical taxonomies. The performance lecture survey critically how one can develop contemporary perspectives on performative contracts that doesen`t lead to the pretext of utility and logical taxonomies.

The background
A relevant alternative view who challenges the allready mentioned dichotomies is pataphysics. First expressed by Alfred Jarry (1873 – 1907), pataphysics is a science of imaginary solutions and of the particular. It explores imaginary phenomena that exist in a world beyond metaphysics. By being a «philosophical» teaching leading to free thought and activities which were not governed by the pretext of utility or the account of specific practical or theoretical aims, Jarry preceded what would be known as dada, futurism and surrealism. Inspiration deriving from Jarry is thus recognisable in european experimental theatre more than 25 years after the turn (1926-28) in his honor. But interest in Jarrys form of theatre also had a much broader catchment, both geographically and in time.

Pataphysics is widely known for having paved the way for the historical avant-garde, who in retrospect became influential for theatre of the absurd and postmodern philosophy. The interest for pataphysics gained momentum in 1948 when Collège de ‘Pataphysique was founded in Paris. Prolific members includes Marx Brothers, Eugène Ionesco, Joan Miro, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. Artists like Pablo Picasso, Jean Genet and Asker Jorn were known to be inspired by pataphysics. It is retrievable in aestetical theory by Gilles Deleuze, Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard. Artists like the canadian poet Christian Bök and the english composer Andrew Hugill represent current practitioners. Thus it is referred to in numerous artistic expressions, but it is close to absent both in contemporary theatre and performance art.

On the background of such experience and refection the performance lecture raise the question if pataphysics has relevans for theatre and performance art today. It examines whether one may develop contemporary performative contracts if the fundamental ideas and practice of pataphysics are used as a prerequisite for the work, and thus if one can examine what the consequences and new possibilities it brings the performer as Human, Actor, Role and Character.

The performance lecture
The following main question will be addressed during the performance lecture: What are the consequence and new possibilities for the performer in performative contracts as Human, Actor, Role and Character if the fundamental ideas and practices of pataphysics are used as prerequisite for the work? As a supplement to the main question the lecture adresses: In what way is pataphysics relevant for performativity today?

We did enjoy exploring the Transylvanian countryside in our rented Dacia Duster