Colette Conroy's Theatre And The Body

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Colette Conroy, senior lecturer of drama at University of Hull, in her work Theatre and the Body, discusses how the body is used within performance. Conroy focuses on four fundamental issues: bodies and meaning, bodies and power, bodies and mind, and bodies and culture. This paper will discuss bodies and meaning, power and culture in association with The Nether, Lysistrata, and Disgraced respectively. Conroy employs the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Judith Baker, and many others to help discuss the purpose of human bodies within theatre. Conroy first discusses bodies and meaning, describing it as "conventions of presenting and viewing bodies on stage" (4). She asserts that there is a difference between real bodies and the convention of a body. The first example she gives is of a crayon drawling of a human- the shape is recognizable but close to the true form. This is merely a convention of the body. Her argument reminds me of Plato's Theory of Form. This theory revolves around the idea that physical forms that we create do not compare to the idea of them. An example of this being that when one builds a chair, one creates a physical representation of an idea. This representation is no match to the original idea and is a new form in itself; it is the convention of the chair. Plato uses a cave allegory to further explain his idea. This allegory describes the life of men chained inside a cave facing a blank wall. The men constantly see shadows on the wall and give them names. This becomes their reality. When the men leave the cave, they are hoisted into a different reality and can see the true form of the shadows. In both the crayon drawing example and Plato's Theory of Form, there is a difference between what... ... middle of paper ... ...out this concept, by philosopher Judith Butler, in tandem with Foucault’s ideas of categorization. Butler mentions the regulatory systems and how bodies are automatically seen as gendered (Conroy 32-33). The rest of her discussion on the performative nature of gender ties into bodies and culture. Gender is a stylized nature of repetition to fulfill stereotypes. She furthers this by saying, “gender is present in the social world as a pre-existing series of actions, gestures, words, feelings and appearances” (Conroy 59). Her main point is to acknowledge the hand culture plays in gender recognition and to point out the “inconsistencies in binary gender” (Conroy 61). The bodies and culture sections continues to discuss gender, family relations, and even the hysteria of women. Gender performance and its ties to culture can be investigated through Charles Mee’s Big Love.

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