Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Use of Barriers in Performing Arts

The best and perhaps the most imaginative use of non physical or indicative barrier systems occurs in the performing arts. Here a performer wishing to express different experiences on a stage or arena has limited time, space and means. As a result the performance space or the stage is extended beyond its physical limits by exploiting both, the real barriers and indicative barriers. Since it is not possible to accommodate the entire set of physical barriers, only the acute or important sections are highlighted through frames, outlines, edges, cleavages, thresholds.

The sets, stage property, curtains, side wings, lighting, audio-video effects, etc. are used for creating a variety of spaces (‘here’ and ‘beyond’). A cleavage in side wings or a gap between two stage properties could signify a door, window, opening, corridor or a passage. The stage thus becomes a place where a multiplicity of spaces ‘Here’ and a series of connected spaces supposed to exist ‘Beyond’ occur. Whatever is lacking in such definitions is further reinforced by the actors. The acting makes the audience feel as if the actor is actually dealing with or reacting to a real barrier. Mime acts are such intense explorations with unreal barriers.
Stage set barriers are experienced by the audience from a limited and fixed angle view. Sage Bharat Muni in his treatise on Natya Shastra (Canons on Dramatics) says actor turning back to the audience is out of the scene or dead. Even in Roman Amphi theaters the actors on the front section are active and by retreating to the backside become inactive
Stage barriers serve a very limited purpose effective for a short period, and last only for a scene, dialogue or the expression. However, real life barriers are rather permanent or at least are longer lasting, seen or experienced dynamically, that is from all sides.

  • Keywords: non-physical or indicative barrier system / performing arts / real barriers / indicative barriers / acute or important sections / stage / here / beyond / mime acts / sage Bharat Muni / Natya Shastra / stage barriers / real life barriers

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