Re: [xmca] Vygotsky and performance? Eisenstein, Meyerhold?

From: Lois Holzman <lholzman who-is-at>
Date: Mon Feb 04 2008 - 09:33:07 PST

HI Matt,

This may be peripheral to your specific question regarding Vygotsky
and Meyerhold but it might be interesting anyway.

The idea that performing is key to or even is development is the heart
of my own work and a growing number of others. Performance in the
sense we use it is developmental in the sense Vygotsky spoke about
free play being developmental, what we performance people call being
who you are and other than who you are/who you are becoming
simultaneously. Others here who look at learning and development
performatorily (and improvisationally, as a form of performance) are
Ana and Artin in particular. If this interests you you might want to
check out some of our writings.

Another thing you might not be aware of is the work of Nicolas
Evreinoff (1879-1953), a Russian actor, director, playwright,
composer, musician and theorist. Evreinoff was a supporter of the
Bolshevik revolution and directed many of the “Mass Spectacles” staged
in the early years of the revolution, which involved thousands of
ordinary people re-enacting recent (and not so recent) historical
events. For Evreinoff performance was not a teaching tool, but a
transformative activity that could be practiced in daily life as well
as on stage. In his book, The Theatre in Life, published in 1927,
Evreinoff identified performance (which he called “theatricality”) as
a human instinct that allowed for transformation. Evreinoff wrote:

Man has one instinct about which, in spite of its inexhaustible
vitality, neither history nor psychology nor aesthetics have so far
said a single word. I have in mind the instinct of transformation, the
instinct of opposing to images received from without images
arbitrarily created from within, the instinct of transmuting
appearances found in nature into something else, an instinct which
clearly reveals its essential character in the conception of what I
call theatricality…The instinct of theatricalization which I claim the
honour to have discovered may be best described as the desire to be
‘different,’ to do something that is ‘different,’ to imagine oneself
in surroundings that are ‘different’ from the commonplace surroundings
of our everyday life. It is one of the mainsprings of our existence,
of that which we call progress, of change, evolution and development
in all departments of life. We are all born with this feeling in our
soul, we are all essentially theatrical beings.

  Evreinoff, Nicolas. The Theatre in Life. Trans. Alexander I.
Nazaroff. New York: Brentano’s, 1927: 22-23.

All best,


Lois Holzman, Director
East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy
920 Broadway, 14th floor
New York NY 10010
tel. 212.941.8906 ext. 324
fax 212.941.0511

On Feb 4, 2008, at 8:40 AM, Matt Ratto wrote:

> Hi all,
> I'm a new subscriber to the list but some of you may know me. I did my
> PhD in Communication at UC San Diego and often visited LCHC and talked
> with Mike (Hi Mike!). I also spent a few months in Helsinki at the
> Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Research with Yrjo
> Engestrom and the great crew there.
> I'm currently in Umea, Sweden and had a conversation a few weeks ago
> with Victor Kaptelinin about a book I'm currently working on. He
> recommended that I post to the list some of my questions about the
> links between Vygotsky and performance. I've noted a number of
> similarities between the theories of emotion and activity in Vygotsky
> and those in the performance theories of Meyerhold. (Basically, that
> emotion is embedded in activity, rather that prior to it.) Has anyone
> written on these connections, or connections between Vygotsky, Luria,
> Leon'tev and contemporary theater or dance?
> I hope you don't mind a newbie posting a question!
> best,
> Matt
> --
> Matt Ratto
> Research Fellow
> HUMlab/Department of History of Ideas
> Umeå Universitet
> 901 87 Umeå
> Assistant Professor (Summer, 08)
> Faculty of Information Studies
> University of Toronto
> Toronto, Canada
> ----
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

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