Accepted Paper:

Between the natural and the cultural: an ethnographic study of relaying a theatrical role's social transitions through body performance.  

Author:

Styliani Papakonstantinou (Dilos School of Acting, Athens, Greece)

Paper short abstract:

The present ethnographic study is concentrated on actress Maria Kechagioglou and how her body performance resonates with the eternal anthropological question of a woman's position in the context of nature and culture while playing Charlotte in a stage adaptation of Bergman's Autumn Sonata.

Paper long abstract:

Creating a character, narrating a story and conveying a message to a theatre audience bring into focus the choices an actor makes in order to showcase how their body provides a substantial and tangible space of metamorphoses and transformation. The theatre ethnographer infers interesting analogies arise between the actor's body and the human condition within a cultural specific context. This text is a reflective examination of Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata adapted to stage for a Greek audience in Athens during winter 2015-2016, as far as the actors' use of their body and anthropological theory can be linked. Focus is put on Charlotte, the leading role, and how body performance resonates with the eternal anthropological question of a woman's position in the context of nature and culture. This ethnographic case study examines the performance of a single actress, Maria Kechagioglou, and the way in which character transitions manifest not just verbally, but also physically through masterfully chosen gestures and body language. Analysis is on six pivotal scenes in which Charlotte's identity as a character is constructed around the nature/culture public/private dichotomy. Proposing an anthropological lens for interpreting an artistic act is a direct suggestion to the fact that a woman does indeed often find herself struggling between the domestic and public domains, between nature and culture. Being a woman and embodying a woman, is therefore viewed as a performance, in which being and interpretation merge and mesh.

Panel P059
"Culture in Action": Between Performance and Ethnography