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Abstract

Existing studies, in Nigeria, have explored the interplay of physical and psychological diseases with a central focus on different psychiatric conditions as well as their social triggers. This article examines ambition as a major intensifier of neurotic and psychotic episodes in Femi Osofisan’s play, A Restless Run of Locusts. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is adopted to account for the mental states of the characters, as manifested in their moods, conducts, gait, physical dispositions and utterances. The play is subjected to a critical analysis to reveal some psychiatric symptoms elicited by grave ambition, as exhibited by its protagonist and other characters featured in it. Besides a close reading of the primary text, secondary materials on the field of psychiatry and literature give insights to the study. The play reveals different psychotic and neurotic features which emerge from the fierce greed and ambition of the protagonist in his craving for political positions and privileges. Through verbal and behavioural displays, Osofisan’s protagonist undergoes a gradual descent into mental derangement, from neuroses to psychoses.

In: Matatu
Author: Bess Rowen

Abstract

A theatrical riot is a nexus of various kinds of performance. They are moments when the performativity of a production meets an audience’s reaction, creating an event that spans the disciplines of Theatre, Performance Studies, History, Sociology, and more. Ireland is particularly well known for its theatrical riots, and the continuum created by these repeat events is as compelling as the individual examples. In 1926, a widow of the Easter Rising named Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington led a planned riot during Sean O’Casey’s play The Plough and the Stars because she found the play offensive to the memories of the Irish men lost in that conflict. She was not a theatre maker, unlike many of the other political figures of the time, nor did she want the play destroyed. Instead, she used the theatrical riot to open a political conversation about the ethics and timeliness of representation. Each Irish theatrical riot is the product of the combination of a particular production of a specific play, the socio-political situations occurring offstage, and the political importance that rioting has held in Irish theatrical history. Sheehy-Skeffington’s riot was no exception, and indeed she learned from the theatrical riots that had come before her. In this paper, I use Teresa Brennan’s affect theory (rhythmic entrainment), theatre history, and psychological phenomena such as groupthink and deindividuation to observe how these rioters generated their scandalous theatrical intervention as well as how this can be placed in the continuum of Ireland’s scandalous history of rioting over theatre. By focusing on this particular riot, in which a person outside of the theatre used the theatrical stage as a space for political protest, we can see how planned theatrical scandals reveal the power that theatrical representation, and theatrical protest, can have.

In: Theatre Scandals
Author: Anneli Saro

Abstract

The chapter illuminates how the state’s cultural politics on the one hand, and theatre makers or citizens on the other hand have influenced Estonian theatre through censorship, and how theatre has reacted to censorship in different circumstances, e.g. in different political contexts. Censorship has been implemented as a tool of prevention or suspension of scandals, but censorship itself has also been the direct cause of scandals.

This discussion of censorship proceeds from two definitions of scandal: 1) an incident or event that disgraces or damages the reputation of the persons or organization involved, and 2) censure or outrage arising from an action or event. Following the argument of these definitions, it can be stated that censorship is implemented either to prevent disgrace or damage to somebody’s reputation or to cease the process of disgracing and damaging. Borrowing from medical terminology, it can be stated that this chapter, which concerns censorship, deals with the “containment” of potential scandals or “vaccination” against the eruption of potential scandals. One can also find an implicit relationship between censorship and scandal. The word ‘censure’ is closely related to ‘censor’; thus, censorship can be understood as one of the forms of censure or outrage that are quite common reactions to scandals or to expected scandals.

The chapter is divided into four parts according to the historical periods, based on state power:

  1. 1.Czarist Russia (1710–1918),
  2. 2.the (first) Republic of Estonia (1918–1940),
  3. 3.the Soviet Union and German occupation (1940–1991) and
  4. 4.the Republic of Estonia (1991 until the present).

Each period is analysed through similar lenses, thereby evaluating the public, political, moral and artistic aspects of theatre leading to scandals. Some forms of censorship can be observed in all these periods, but in each period, the state authorities considered different issues – political, moral or aesthetic – as scandalous or dangerous. This chapter focuses mainly on the criteria for censorship, i.e. what was considered dangerous or amoral in theatre during these periods, and how these aspects are related to the general cultural and political background of the time.

In: Theatre Scandals
Author: Willmar Sauter

Abstract

Cleopatra is one of the notable women in history who has not been erased from history books, but she has been made an object of scandal from the very beginning, or rather: from the last day of her life. The myth of her suicide by means of poisonous snakes has prevailed throughout the centuries and has inspired innumerable novels, plays, operas and operettas as well as films from the time of silent movies onward; there are always these snakes at the end.

In this chapter the history of Cleopatra is presented backwards in time. It begins with the grand movie Cleopatra from 1963, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the leading roles. The production of this exceptionally expensive film turned out to be more scandalous than the spectacular picture on the screen. But the snakes were there despite the fact that there were no such poisonous vipers in Egypt at the time.

These snakes are also a prominent feature in Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra from 1606. After numerous intrigues and warfare during the first three acts, the remaining acts deal with the death of Mark Antony and the suicide of Cleopatra and her maids. Shakespeare’s Cleopatra appears quite unsympathetic and seems to deserve her untimely death. The dialogue follows closely Plutarch’s biography of Mark Antony, so the next section deals with his story of the Roman general.

Plutarch wrote his biography approximately 130 years after the death of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. His portrait of the Egyptian Queen is full of respect for this knowledgeable and attractive woman, who spoke nine languages and was an outstanding partner in conversations as well as in negotiations with the Roman Empire. Her love affairs with Caesar, with whom she had a son, and Mark Antony, to whom she bore three children, are described from a personal as well as from a political perspective. Plutarch knows of the rumour that Cleopatra was killed by snakes, but he has serious doubts about the truth of such gossip.

The last section presents the sources that today’s historians have collected about the ‘real’ Cleopatra, who died in the year 30 BC. She is portrayed as the successful Queen of Egypt who fell victim to the internal power struggle between competing Roman leaders. The snakes and Cleopatra’s suicide remain a politically staged, scandalous lie.

In: Theatre Scandals
Author: Tove Björk

Abstract

The Ejima-Ikushima scandal occurred in the first lunar month of 1714, at the Yamamura za kabuki theatre in Edo (Tokyo). The protagonists of the scandal were lady Ejima (1681–1741), serving at the court of the mother of the 7th Tokugawa shogun, and Edo top star kabuki actor Ikushima Shingorô (1671–1743). During the seventeenth century, it was not at unusual for high-ranking men and women to visit the kabuki theatres. Moreover, kabuki actors were often invited to perform at the residences of feudal lords – and during the reign of the 3rd shogun – even at the Edo castle itself. This infatuation with the world of kabuki was frequently forbidden, but before 1714, the enforcement of the laws had been lax. Why the incident in 1714 blew into a grand court case, which passed judgment on over a thousand people, is usually explained by the fact that the affair happened exactly at a time when the Tokugawa government was about to embark on a new policy of frugality and moral reforms – the so called Kyôhô-reforms (1716–1735) – and that the case was used as a showcase to mark this new governmental attitude.

In this chapter, I give a detailed description of the events leading up to the incident based on government documents, the incident itself, the court case, and the events in its immediate aftermath. I will also discuss some urban legends surrounding the scandal, which interpret the scandal as a story of loyalty and sacrifice. Using records from the Edo magistrate, the diaries of kabuki actors and fans, I show how the kabuki theatres, despite being labeled scandalous, functioned as economic engines during an age of recession, and how this finally turned kabuki into a theatre shared by all layers of society.

In: Theatre Scandals
In: Theatre Scandals

Abstract

The chapter deals with the Hamburg theatre scandal of 1801 and shows that scandals were already common in the theatre around 1800. The Hamburg scandal was a particular one in this context: parts of the audience revolted against the management and demanded the right to have a say in the artistic choices. The chapter deals with the role of the media, i.e. the lively and diverse press culture of Hamburg around 1800, in prolonging the conflict, thereby generating the scandal; it names strategies of escalation and de-escalation and shows which political, aesthetic and economic norms the event made visible.

In: Theatre Scandals
In: Theatre Scandals

Abstract

Since the 1970s, Israeli theatre has presented performances dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which have often created controversy among practitioners, critics, politicians and spectators. Some of these performances have been very provocative from the point of view of Israeli mainstream political discourse, and some have even caused scandals. I analyze Return to Haifa (2008) and discuss the elements of the performance and the production which gave rise to a scandal. My aim is to show, through this case-study, how providing a voice for the Palestinian narrative on the Israeli stage, even in a moderate manner, is perceived as a provocation, and thus arouses a scandal, in contrast with the producers’ intentions. This case emphasizes ideology as a significant element in the reception of theatrical representations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It describes the difficulties of the artists to expand (and to provoke) the Israeli audience’s reception beyond ideological limits. This analysis applies the Theatrical Event Model to the dynamic of constructing or creating a scandal, and highlights the interdependence among its four aspects (Playing Culture; Cultural Contexts; Contextual Theatricality; Theatrical Playing). It shows a political tension between the elements of the theatrical event: on the one hand, the Playing Culture and Cultural Contexts explain why the production was perceived as a provocation. On the other, the Contextual Theatricality and Theatrical Playing explain the attempt of the performance to mitigate the political message for the Israeli audience.

In: Theatre Scandals
Author: Joshua Edelman

Abstract

This chapter discusses the controversy around Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, in which he shared both his love of Apple products and the horrors he saw on his visit to the Chinese factories in which they were made. When a portion of the play was broadcast on a popular American radio programme, it was revealed that Daisey had not, in fact, seen some of the things he described in the play. In the ensuing scandal, Daisey called what he had done ‘true for theatre,’ an argument met with some sympathy by performance scholars but scoffed at by the general public. This chapter seeks to shed light on these claims, but also to address this problematic gap in perception.

Some of the confusion comes from the question of genre. Daisey’s work is both documentary theatre and autobiographical performance, and these two forms, with their differing histories, aims and methods, work with two related but distinct notions of truth. The chapter argues that Daisey’s work is not simply autobiographical or documentary, but testimonial. As such, the chapter discusses the specific character and requirements of the heightened form of speech known as witnessing, and concludes that it is not sufficient to refer to Daisey as a fabulist or a liar; rather, he should be thought of as a perjurer. If theatre of witness and testimony is to claim the heightened political and ethical stance it has, and the social authority that comes with the heightened act of witnessing, then the possibility of false witness must be considered. This framing also helps to explain both the ferocity of this scandal and its invisibility to some theatrical insiders. Daisey’s work was, for many audience members, placed within the potent social frame of testimony – the rules of which it, scandalously, did not observe – while some theatrical insiders placed it in a more autonomous aesthetic frame which has the right to set its own rules.

In: Theatre Scandals