Nova (fwd)

Cliff Sloane (cesloane@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Thu, 10 Mar 1994 18:02:51 -0600

This interesting posting was submitted to perform-l, a performance studies
discussion group. I hope this isn't a duplicate.

Cliff Sloane

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 1994 08:41:31 -0500 (EST)
To: perform-l@ACFcluster.NYU.EDU
Subject: Nova

The performance issues in video documentary recreations of early
hominid life are, indeed, interesting, as much because we are
examining our own symbolic architecture of reality as we are
attempting to weigh and communicate evidence gleaned from the
fossil records. The issues raised in Bill Conte's initial post
on this thread connect to behavioral patterns that stem not just
from cultural process but from the human genome itself. I
strongly recommend, for those interested, a perusal of _Shadows
of Forgotten Ancestors_ by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. One of the
very interesting ideas discussed in this work is the need for
both xenophobia and xenophilia as means of preserving genetic
stability while promoting genetic evolution. Sagan and Druyan
spend a considerable portion of the book examining behavioral
traits in chimps for possible evidence of pre-hominid and early
hominid behavioral characteristics, and for evidence of the
evolution of behavioral adaptations. One of the implications of
the various studies referenced by Sagan and Druyan is that both
peaceful, scavenging behavior and predatory behavior are
possible, indeed, that these behaviors are possible and likely in
any given species and among members of any local community. One
other interesting element that the book suggests is that
behaviors can change dependent upon change in environmental
conditions. Shortage of food and increasing overpopulation
seriously alter behavior, toward cooperation among some species,
and toward increasing violence and depression in others. Humans,
as the most neurologically complex, can exhibit the full spectrum
of adaptive behaviors. A given response may well depend on the
cultural patterns in place at the time a crisis develops. I
believe that we see constant examples in our present world:
violent behavior as a means of preserving identity in the face of
the depressing effects of the apparent worthlessnes reinforced by
extreme economic disadvantage, contrasted with altruistic
cooperation in the face of natural disasters.

By way of keeping this posting somewhat related to the purpose of
this list, let me suggest that we see varying adaptive responses
reflected in drama constantly. Works that come immediately to my
mind are _Rhinoceros_, _Waiting for Godot_, and _True West_.
(Yes, I know these are now "old" titles.) In terms of
performance reinterpretation, I also remember a TDR article about
a production of _Victims of Duty_ by the New Orleans Group
Theatre. (Again, old, since that was in the 60's.) And in line
with another thread on this list, Grotowski's production of
_Principe Constante_. (Again, an oldie, but here we are, again,
talking about another thread: 60's idealism. They do all seem
to relate, don't they?)