2. THEATER ANTHROPOLOGY
The actor does an action, whereas the performer is the action. The action is an expression of a story. It has moved from the outside of the actor’s body to the inside of the performer’s body. By extension, the story has moved from outside to inside. This re-incorporation may be seen as a transition, a passage from interpretation to impersonation. Actors who ‘do performances’ use their bodies as a vehicle for the action. Their bodies become invested by the action. Talk about performers is not limited to acting, but applies to any kind of performance. ‘Performers are doers’. Because performers become the action, they become their own story. The intention of the performer lies beyond ‘giving a show;’ it is more of a quest. There are performances of theater, but also of professional occupation, illness manifestations, health care, cultural patterns, social mannerisms and other things. As an illustration, the next story tells how an artisan revived a tradition while using his own body. He performed this through an apprenticeship that combined the development of professional skills and a thorough historical and cultural exploration.
Early research about the social actor coincided with the birth of experimental theater in the twentieth century. In the first decades of the century, researchers such as Freud and Boas reconsidered the relationship between culture and personality (Barnouw, 1984). From what is often presented as the ‘interactionist’ school of sociology, emerged social psychology, whose pioneer was George Herbert Mead. Mead designed a model that presents the expressive body of the social actor as threefold: biological, personalized and socialized. The human body is an object with biological and physiological functioning; this object is inhabited by a person and both meet other people, an event that is projected into the protagonists’ sociohistorical context (Mead, 1943, 1964). For Mead, the starting point in understanding the social actor is communication (see also Cooley, 1902, 1904 in Martindale, 1981). Drawing from his practical work with actors in the context of intercultural theater, director Eugenio Barba produced a systemized approach that he called ‘theater anthropology.’ He first defined the performance in a way that echoes the basic model of Mead’s social psychology: