THEATRE: EVENTS, BOOKS, PHENOMENA | ODJEK


Dževad KARAHASAN, writer and philosopher

TALKING WITH MASK

“MME LEOPOLDINE’S MEMOIRES” BY THEATRE MASKA I POKRET

TO SPEAK about plays formulated in a “new way”, about the means by which “standard theatre” is not used, or the procedures by which “unlawful” syntactic units are built from these means whose properties have not been theoretically elaborated, means to move through “unknown terrain”, speak for yourself and not write a critique in the classical sense, critique as the application of basic theoretical concepts of a concrete text. And that is the case here: we should talk about the performance of Theater Maska i Pokret whose performances differ in many ways (practice, theory and critique) from legalised theatre and its manufacturings; to talk about such performances means to talk about something that is not clear in itself and especially to the critic, and that again means to put the critic in a very original situation because the critic must pretend that everything is clear to him even when nothing is clear to him, especially in our “theatrical circumstances” in which “authority” is built only by inviolability (which has omniscience as one of its connotations).

The basic means of expression of this theatre have already been named by its name: in addition to “mask” and “movement”, as members of the name syntagm, the means of expression are music, which, especially in this application, could be considered one of the connotations of “movement”, if for nothing else because the measure of movement is a musical unit (and in the performances of this theatre, music is used primarily as a measure of movement). A very instructive method for a critical speech about such a (conditionally new) theatre seems to be the semiotic practice that treats each individual sign as a system, ie as a “reduced model” of the play and the type of theatre as a whole (as a system of higher-order). This means that on an individual sign, on one acting procedure, the basic material units (factors) of the sign and their mutual relations should be named, and after that, the obtained results should be applied to a higher-order system (hence to the play, and then to “theatre”, ie a type of theatre as a whole), which is why it is important to establish the basic means of expression.

The system is, as Melnikov says, “a complex unity, composed of interconnected or interdependent parts – elements, embodied in real substance that has a specific scheme of mutual links (relations), that is, structure”, which means that “individual acting process” is composed of “interconnected parts embodied in real substance.” These interconnected parts have already been mentioned – the mask, the music and the movement (embodied in the “real matter” of the actor’s body). Of course, there will be no special talk about the actor’s body and music, but it is necessary to determine the mask more precisely.

Mask in theatre Maska i Pokret (Iva Kostović-Mandić and Petar Mandić who are literally everything in that theatre: playwrights, mask makers, choreographers and performers) could be relatively accurately defined by comparison with Schumann masks which are similar in that that they cover the whole face (i.e. the whole head of which they are much larger), which excludes the actors’ speech, but differs significantly in that that they do not exclude the actor’s body (they do not turn it into a “huge puppet” like Schumann’s mask which is “the whole puppet” and not only mask) but combine with it. But here, in fact, Hjelmslev’s assertion is already made that the whole of the semiological system “consists not of things but of relations and that external and internal relations, and not matter itself, have significance for the system”: already when naming the difference between this mask and Schumann’s puppet (which is the only association that this critic has in relation to the mask of this theatre who admits that in connection with the mask theatre he is an absolute ignoramus) it came to the relationship that that mask establishes within the sign (defined as a system) and distances itself from. And yet, right here, the doubts that are necessarily imposed by the radicalism of this statement are manifested because the need to define the elements of the sign itself is shown (it is shown that relations are inseparable from what enters into these relations): the similarity of this mask with Schumann (that is, its size and manufacturing technique) causes its incompatibility with speech, and its essential difference from Schumann (besides the one already mentioned) is still its property independent of the context of the sign (although it is no longer a “primary”, material, property of the mask but a “secondary” property attributed to the mask) – the effort to incorporate some psychological characteristics into the mask, more or less individualise and psychologically define the character marked with a mask.

From the already mentioned characteristic of the sign – the combination of mask that exaggerates face with the body that emphasises its “naturalness” (dance, and that especially skilful dance bordering on classical ballet) comes one of the fundamental definitions of this theatre – its grotesqueness. Admittedly, the benefit of this remarkable discovery is rather small given the fact that in European theory one simply does not know what is grotesque (either this critic has not found an author who knows it reliably and precisely) or it is not known precisely enough. But it is useful because the play “Mme Leopoldine’s Memoires”, on which occasion we talk about theatre Maska i Pokret, is “grotesque” in the most classical sense, in the way that the Roman ornament, to which the term grotesque is to be thanked, grotesque is, and who (ornament) erases the boundaries between the individual “stages” of life by treating plants, animals, and people in practically the same way, attributing to one form of life the characteristics of the other two forms. Peter Schumann’s theatre is not grotesque in this way, if it is grotesque at all: his huge puppets have only an “external kinship” with a man – they resemble him in that that they are “live” (can be without quotes because they really are) and in that that they are similarly constructed, but in no other way. Schumann’s puppet has no individuality, is not psychologically defined, cannot associate with individual human destiny. And Schumann does not ascribe to them an “inner kinship” of a man, not even by the action of his plays which do not tell the individual human destiny but the destiny of mankind, which by its philosophical generality creates from puppets that play in them an incarnated notions and not “human characteristics”. Therefore, Schumann’s theatre is not grotesque in a classical way because it does not have an ambivalent scene of life at its core, which at the same time with the same move “rises” and “descends”, perfects and loses its strength in this process of perfection. If it is, as many critics claim, then it is grotesque in that it “revived the puppet” (and this is, if at all, close only to the concept of romantic grotesque).
The compound of mask and body in theatre Maska i Pokret is grotesque in “original way” in that that the syntagm they build, the basic syntactic unit, makes it distinctly ambivalent, double in itself and directed to two opposite sides, building from the play paradoxical being which is at the same time more than a puppet and less than a man, or more than a man and less than a puppet, a being composed of a mask that gained the expressiveness and vivid individuality of the face and of a body that gained mechanical precision and a “superhuman” degree of mobility.

The main sign in the play of Theatre Maska i Pokret is large mask and dance of classical ballet – perfect, music-fixed, a movement that makes the human body something that is both “above and below human” because by its mechanical/musical regularity it deprives the body of vital individuality and at the same time is (by all its other characteristics) the highest degree to which the human body can reach. Another member of this binary system is a mask denoting an oversized human face, huge and motionless, but “psychologically defined” by an expression that expresses the spiritual state of the character (where the suggestiveness of expression is greatly contributed by immobility and size of the face). The basic sign is, therefore, a compound of elements that are ambivalent in themselves – a paradoxical combination of factors that, each for itself and especially in this syntactic connection, makes from a character a being that is simultaneously more and less than a human being.
And this original grotesqueness of this sign reveals the full value of the combination created by Iva Kostović-Mandić and Petar Mandić, the consistency of the combination of mask and classical ballet: such mask with “natural” movements of the human body would create simply a comic whole, if a whole at all, a circuit that necessarily disintegrates into two incompatible planes, while in combination with classical ballet it seems “quite natural” – as a system that reveals the duality of life itself, ie the grotesque system.

The offered interpretation of the basic sign is indirectly proved by the fact that the body is literally reduced to movement – all its properties are taken away except the life itself, which is most directly manifested in the ability to move. The actors are dressed in black leotards, hence in a costume whose colour deprives the body of all physical properties except movement (because by convention black should be the colour of absence in the theatre, a “negative” colour, a colour that contains within itself the ability to deny), equating it with walls bounding the stage (and which are, again by convention, black), which, therefore, do not exist. And thus the character is reduced to a mask (face) and movement as the only manifestation of the real, but to the movement that excluded body, therefore (the character comes down) to a system composed of a mask which concentrates in itself all “spiritual properties” of the character and all its “physical properties” except the ability to move, that is, of life itself, which (ability) is concentrated in the invisible (ie only visible with mask) body.

Such treatment of mask determines the essential form of the originality of this theatre – its use of the mask as a real character, as a form in which the complete psychological being of the character is formed. And it determines, of course, the dramaturgy of the play, directing the authors to define the action of the central character and subordinate the plot to character. This means that the plot is relatively simple, but formulated by units which, by their degree of generality, enable the projection of its basic lines on a large number of plans and, therefore, projection into the plot of various meanings.

The verbal paraphrase of the plot of this play could clarify what has been said about the dramaturgy as determined by the means of expression and the described way of their use. The central character is Mme Leopoldine, who in “mature years” reconstructs her wedding day, which is marked by very simple but effective means: Leopoldine plays with the wedding veil and puts it on the wall, cleans the stain from the floor, brings out the wedding cake; nephew Oscar brings her flowers and tries to steal the cake, but she doesn’t let him; finally, instead of the groom, her twin sister appears, perhaps, in fact, she (Leopoldine) herself, because the sisters are equal not only in appearance but also in how they play with equal passion with perfectly identical dolls they are beating and then “killing” (which once again shows the simplicity, efficiency and artistic impact of the means and procedures used by the authors: is there a better way to show “growing up”, “entering maturity” and its cruelty, its connection with death), as well as the fact that their movements are emphatically similar; at the end of the celebration Leopoldine dies (the actor, hidden from the audience, pulls himself out of the mask and disappears), and the sister simply puts her in a suitcase from which she previously took out the doll she killed to grow up. This simple plot, in which, due to the reduced means, the relations between the protagonists and individual plot units remained occasionally unclear and imprecise, precisely with its schematicity and rudimentariness, opens the space for projecting the most diverse possible meanings: Leopoldine and really died, and her sister Emilia really buried her; and at the same time Emilia is actually her, the senile-old-fashioned reconstruction of the wedding ceremony is actually the “general rehearsal” of the bride before the real wedding (“the showdown with the dolls” before the wedding is the final growth) and the death that ends the show is actually growing up (Leopoldine buries her ex-self in the suitcase where the doll she played with was) who will turn this death into tomorrow’s celebration. Hence the tragicomic duality of the play, its “cruel joy,” its remarkable ability to undo cruel details (such as killing puppets) with comic and to show the comic details (such as “fainting from fatigue” when cleaning a floor stain) to the full extent of the cruelty that comedy always implies (because Leopoldine, when she faints from fatigue, behaves like an insect, like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa).
This grotesque ambivalence, at the same time tragicality and comicalness of the play, show that in terms of architecture, as Bakhtin would say, the scheme of an individual sign is repeated, and this again shows that “Mme Leopoldine’s Memoires” achieved a very high degree of unity and maximum internal consistency.

Dževad KARAHASAN

TEATAR: DOGAĐAJI, KNJIGE, POJAVE | ODJEK


Dževad KARAHASAN, writer and philosopher

PRIČATI MASKOM

»ISPOVIJEST GOSPOĐICE LEOPOLDINE« TEATRA MASKA I POKRET

GOVORITI o predstavama koje su formulirane na »novi način«, sredstvima kojima se »standardni teatar« ne koristi, ili postupcima kojima se od tih sredstava grade »neozakonjene» sintaksičke cjeline čija svojstva nisu teorijski elaborirana, znači kretati se »nepoznatim terenom«, govoriti u svoje ime a ne pisati kritiku u klasičnom smislu, kritiku kao primjenu temeljnih teorijskih pojmova na konkretan tekst.
A to je slučaj ovdje: treba govoriti o predstavi teatra Maska i pokret čije se predstave po koječemu razlikuju od (praksom, teorijom i kritikom) ozakonjenog teatra i njegove proizvodnje; govoriti o takvim predstavama znači govoriti o nečemu što ni samo u sebi a pogotovo kritičaru nije jasno i do kraja ispitano, a to opet znači postaviti kritičara u veoma originalnu situaciju jer se kritičar mora praviti da mu je sve jasno i onda kad mu nije jasno ništa, pogotovo u našim »kazališnim prilikama« u kojima se »autoritet« gradi jedino neprikosnovenošću (koja za jednu od konotacija ima i sveznanje).

Osnovna izražajna sredstva ovog teatra imenovana su već njegovim nazivom: uz »masku« i »pokret«, kao članove nazivne sintagme, izražajna sredstva čini i muzika, koja bi se, pogotovo u ovoj primjeni, mogla smatrati jednom od konotacija »pokreta«, ako ni zbog čega drugoga zato što je mjera pokreta muzička jedinica (a u predstavama ovog teatra muzika se i koristi prije svega kao mjera pokreta). Veoma uputnom metodom za kritički govor o ovakvom (uslovno novom) teatru čini se semiološka praksa koja svaki pojedini znak tretira kao sistem, dakle kao »umanjeni model« predstave i tipa teatra tu cjelini (kao sistema višeg reda). To znači da na pojedinačnom znaku, na jednome glumačkom postupku, treba imenovati osnovne materijalne jedinice (činioce) znaka i njihove uzajamne odnose, a nakon toga dobijene rezultate primijeniti na sistem višeg reda (dakle na predstavu, a onda i na »teatar«, to jest vrstu teatra u cjelini), zbog čega i jeste značajno ustanoviti osnovna izražajna sredstva.

Sistem je, kako kaže Meljnikov, »neko složeno jedinstvo, sastavljeno od međusobno povezanih ili međusobno uslovljenih dijelova — elemenata, otjelovljenih u realnoj supstanci koji imaju konkretnu shemu uzajamnih veza (odnosa), to jest strukturu«, što znači da je »pojedinačan glumački postupak« složen od »međusobno povezanih dijelova otjelovljenih u realnoj supstanci«. Ti međusobno povezani dijelovi su već spomenuti — maska, muzika i pokret (otjelovljen u »realnoj materiji« glumačkog tijela). O glumčevom tijelu i muzici neće se, naravno, posebno govoriti, ali je masku neophodno preciznije odrediti.

Maska u teatru Maska i pokret (Ive Kostović — Mandić i Petra Mandića koji su u tom teatru doslovno sve: autori scenarija, realizatori maske, koreografi i izvođači) mogla bi se relativno precizno definirati usporedbom sa Schumannovim maskama kojima su slične utoliko što prekrivaju čitavo lice (to jest čitavu glavu od koje su mnogo veće), po čemu isključuju govor glumaca, ali se bitno razlikuju po tome što ne isključuju glumčevo tijelo (ne pretvaraju ga u »ogromnu lutku« kao Schumannova maska koja je »čitava lutka« a ne samo maska) nego se kombiniraju s njim. Ali se ovdje, zapravo, već dolazi do Hjelmslevljeve tvrdnje da cjelinu semiološkog sistema »čine ne stvari nego odnosi i da značaj za sistem imaju vanjski i unutrašnji odnosi, a ne materija sama«: već se kod imenovanja razlike između ove maske i Schumannove lutke (koja je jedina asocijacija koju u vezi s maskom ovoga teatra ima ovaj kritičar koji priznaje da je u vezi s teatrom maske apsolutna neznalica) došlo do odnosa koje maska uspostavlja u okviru znaka (definiranog kao sistem) i udaljilo od nje same. A ipak se, upravo ovdje, manifestiraju i dvojbe koje nužno nameće radikalizam navedene tvrdnje jer se pokazuje potreba za definiranjem elemenata znaka samih po sebi (pokazuje se da su odnosi neodvojivi od onoga što stupa u te odnose): srodnost ove maske sa Schumannovom (to jest njezina veličina i tehnika izrade) prouzrokuje njezinu inkompatibilnost s govorom, a njezina bitna razlika od Schumannove (pored već navedene) je još uvijek njezino svojstvo neovisno od konteksta znaka (iako već nije »primarno«, materijalno, svojstvo maske nego »sekundarno«, maski pripisano svojstvo) — nastojanje da se u masku ugrade neke psihološke karakteristike, da se lik, označen maskom, koliko-toliko individualizira i psihološki definira.

Iz već navedene karakteristike znaka — kombinacije maske koja predimenzionira lice sa tijelom koje potencira svoju »prirodnost« (plesom, i to naglašeno vještim plesom koji graniči sa klasičnim baletom) proističe jedno od temeljnih određenja ovog teatra — njegova grotesknost.
Doduše, korist od ovog izvrsnog otkrića je prilično mala s obzirom na činjenicu da se u evropskoj teoriji naprosto ne zna šta je groteska (ili ovaj kritičar nije našao autora koji to pouzdano i precizno zna) ili se ne zna dovoljno precizno. Ali koristi ipak ima jer je predstava »Ispovijest gospođice Leopoldine«, povodom koje se govori o teatru Maska i pokret, »groteskna« u najklasičnijem smislu, na način na koji je groteskan rimski ornament kojemu treba zahvaliti termin groteska, a koji (ornament) briše granice između pojedinih »stupnjeva« života tretirajući na praktično isti način biljke, životinje i ljude, pripisujući jednom obliku života osobine druga dva oblika. Teatar Petera Schumanna nije groteskan na ovaj način, ako je uopće groteskan: njegove ogromne lutke imaju samo »vanjsku srodnost« sa čovjekom — liče na njega po tome što su »žive« (a može i bez navodnika jer zaista jesu) i po tome što su slično konstruirane, ali ni po čemu više. Schumannova lutka nema individualnosti, nije psihološki definirana, ne može asocirati pojedinačnu ljudsku sudbinu. A »unutrašnju srodnost« sa čovjekom Schumann im ne pripisuje ni radnjom svojih komada koji ne pričaju pojedinačnu ljudsku sudbinu nego sudbinu čovječanstva, koji svojom filozofskom općošću od lutaka koje u njima igraju prave inkarnirane pojmove a ne »oznake ljudi«. Po tome, dakle, Schumannov teatar nije groteskan na klasičan način jer u svom temelju nema ambivalentni prizor života koji se u isto vrijeme i istim potezom »diže« i »spušta«, usavršava i tim procesom usavršavanja gubi snagu. Ako jeste, kao što tvrde mnogi kritičari, onda je groteskan po tome što je »oživio lutku« (a to je, ako je uopće, blisko jedino konceptu romantičarske groteske).
Spoj maske i tijela u teatru Maska i pokret groteskan je na »izvoran način« po tome što sintagmu koju oni grade, osnovnu sintaksičku jedinicu, čini izrazito ambivalentnom, u sebi dvostrukom i usmjerenom na dvije suprotne strane, gradeći od lika predstave paradoksalno biće koje je u isto vrijeme više od lutke i manje od čovjeka, ili više od čovjeka i manje od lutke, biće sastavljeno od maske koja dobija izražajnost i živu pojedinačnost lica i od tijela koje dobija mehaničku preciznost i »nadljudski« stupanj pokretljivosti.

Osnovni znak u predstavi teatra Maska i pokret čine velika maska i ples klasičnog baleta — savršen, muzikom fiksiran, pokret koji od ljudskog tijela pravi nešto što je istovremeno »iznad i ispod čovjeka« jer svojom mehaničkom/muzičkom pravilnošću tijelu oduzima životnu pojedinačnost, a istovremeno je (po svim svojim ostalim obilježjima) najviši stupanj do kojega ljudsko tijelo može doći. Drugi član ovog binarnog sistema je maska koja označava predimenzionirano ljudsko lice, ogromno i nepomično, ali »psihološki definirano« izrazom koji izražava duhovno stanje lika (pri čemu sugestivnosti izraza mnogo doprinose nepomičnost i veličina lica koje ekspresivnost pravoga ljudskog lica diže na drugu potenciju). Osnovni znak je, dakle, spoj elemenata koji su u sebi ambivalentni — paradoksalan spoj činilaca koji, svaki za sebe a pogotovo u ovakvome sintaksičnom spoju, od lika prave biće koje je istovremeno više i manje od čovjeka.
A ta izvorna grotesknost ovoga znaka otkriva punu vrijednost kombinacije koju stvaraju Iva Kostović–Mandić i Petar Mandić, konzistentnost spoja maske i klasičnog baleta: ovakva maska bi sa »prirodnim« pokretima ljudskog tijela stvarala naprosto komičnu cjelinu, ako uopće cjelinu, sklop koji se nužno raspada na dva inkompatibilna plana, dok se u kombinaciji s klasičnim baletom doima »sasvim prirodno« — kao sistem koji otkriva dvostrukost života samog, dakle groteskan sistem.

Ponuđenu interpretaciju osnovnog znaka posredno dokazuje i činjenica da je tijelo doslovno svedeno na pokret — oduzeta su mu sva svojstva osim života samoga koji se najneposrednije manifestira u sposobnosti da se kreće. Glumci su odjeveni u crne trikoe, dakle u kostim koji bojom oduzima tijelu sva fizikalna svojstva osim pokreta (jer bi po konvenciji crno trebalo u kazalištu biti boja odsustva, »negativna« boja, boja koja u sebi sadrži sposobnost poricanja), izjednačavajući ga sa zidovima koji ograničavaju pozornicu (i koji su, opet po konvenciji, crni), koji, dakle, ne postoje. A time se lik svodi na masku (lice) i pokret kao jedinu manifestaciju realnog ali na pokret svedenog tijela, dakle (lik se svodi) na sistem sastavljen od maske koja u sebi koncentrira sva »duhovna svojstva« lika i sva njegova »fizička svojstva« osim sposobnosti da se kreće, dakle života samoga, koja se (sposobnost) koncentrirala u nevidljivom (odnosno samo po maski vidljivom) tijelu.

Takav tretman maske određuje bitni oblik originalnosti ovog teatra — njegovo korištenje maskom kao realnim licem, kao formom u kojoj se uobličava kompletno psihološko biće lika. A određuje, naravno, i dramaturgiju predstava upućujući autore na definiranje radnje središnjim likom i subordiniranje zapleta liku. To znači da je siže relativno jednostavan, ali formuliran jedinicama koje svojim stupnjem općosti omogućuju projiciranje njegovih osnovnih linija na veliki broj planova i, prema tome, projekciju u siže najrazličitijih značenja.

Verbalna parafraza sižea ove predstave mogla bi pojasniti ono što je rečeno o dramaturgiji kakvu određuju izražajna sredstva i opisani način njihovog korištenja. Središnji lik je gospođica Leopoldina koja u »zrelim godinama« rekonstruira svoj svadbeni dan, što je označeno veoma jednostavnim ali efikasnim sredstvima: Leopoldina se igra svadbenim velom i stavlja ga na zid, čisti mrlju sa poda, iznosi svadbene torte; nećak Oskar joj donosi cvijeće i pokušava ukrasti tortu, ali mu ona to ne dozvoljava; najzad se, umjesto ženika, pojavljuje njezina sestra blizanka, možda zapravo ona (Leopoldina) sama jer su sestre jednake ne samo po izgledu nego i po tome što se s podjednakom strašću igraju savršeno jednakim lutkama koje tuku i nakon toga »ubijaju« (što još jednom pokazuje jednostavnost, efikasnost i umjetničku upečatljivost sredstava i postupaka kojima se autori koriste: ima li boljeg načina da se pokaže »odrastanje«, »ulazak u zrelost« i njegova surovost, njegova veza sa smrću), kao i po tome što su im pokreti naglašeno slični; na kraju slavlja Leopoldina umire (glumac se, skriveno od gledalaca, izvlači iz maske i nestaje), a sestra je jednostavno spremi u kovčeg iz kojega je prije toga izvadila lutku koju je ubila da bi odrasla. Ovaj jednostavni siže u kojemu su, zbog reduciranosti sredstava, odnosi između aktera i pojedinih sižejnih jedinica ostali povremeno nejasni i neprecizni, upravo svojom shemaitičnošću i rudimentannošću otvara prostor za projiciranje najrazličitijih mogućih značenja: Leopoldina je i stvarno umrla i sestra Emilija ju je stvarno sahranila; a istovremeno je Emilija zapravo ona, staračka rekonstrukcija svadbene svečanosti je zapravo »generalna proba« mladenkina pred pravu svadbu (»obračun s lutkama« uoči svadbe je konačno odrastanje) i smrt kojom se predstava završava je zapravo odrastanje (Leopoldina u kovčeg u kojemu je bila lutka kojom se igrala sahranjuje sebe bivšu) koje će ovu smrt pretvoriti u sutrašnje slavlje. Otuda tragikomična dvostrukost predstave, njezina »surova radost«, izuzetna sposobnost da okrutne detalje (kao što je ubijanje lutaka) poništi komičnim i komične detalje (kakav je »padanje u nesvijest od umora« prilikom čišćenja mrlje s poda) pokaže u punoj mjeri surovosti koju komika uvijek podrazumijeva (jer se Leopoldina, kad padne u nesvijest od umora ponaša kao kukac, poput Kafkinog Gregora Samse).
Ta groteskna ambivalentnost, istovremena tragičnost i komičnost predstave pokazuje da se na planu arhitektonike, kako bi rekao Bahtin, ponavlja shema pojedinačnog znaka, a to opet pokazuje da je »Ispovijest gospođice Leopoldine« ostvarila veoma visok stupanj jedinstva i maksimalnu mjeru unutrašnje konzistencije.

Dževad KARAHASAN