oa Marang : Journal of Language and Literature - Styles and levels of acting in Zimbabwean traditional performances
In this paper, I intend to support Schechners (1988: 197) argument that to be in trance is not to be out of control, and that in trance or possession the performer does exhibit elements of acting. Schechner mentions that two processes are identifiable in performance: the performer is either subtracted in a performance closely resembling the art of the shaman who acts in ecstasy or what Jerzy Grotowski calls the holy actor, or the performer is added to or doubled, according to Antonin Artaud, in the process of performing. This doubled actor is considered to be in trance, something Schechner likens to Constantin Stanislavskis character actor. In defining these two phenomena and other forms of acting, my intention in this paper is to prove that the whole of Africa is a gold mine of artistic performances. I intend to prove this by analyzing the acting styles and levels in Zimbabwean traditional performances. In traditional Zimbabwean performances acting is realized in different social functions and contexts. In the context of this paper, acting means to feign, to simulate, to represent, to impersonate. (E.T. Kirby 1972 3) Defining acting and its qualities in the scope of this paper will achieve three things. First, I will identify instances where acting is realized. Secondly, I will show how Zimbabwean societies use these defined/identified qualities in different contexts. Thirdly, I will judge the levels of acting regarding their seriousness, commitment and functions. To achieve these aims, I will analyze four categories of performances, storytelling, children's make-believe, rituals and ceremonies.
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