the emancipated spectator

"We should never forget this first statement of the issue which still underpins in fact all the critiques of theatre and all the wills to change theatre. Theatre is the transmission of the disease of passivity through the disease of looking. It is easy to find this original pattern underpinning theories as different as Brecht’s epic theatre or Artaud’s “theatre de la cruauté” . What Brecht stigmatizes is the theatrical illusion which keeps the spectator in a state of hypnotism and passivity. And he calls for an active spectator, meaning a knowledgeable spectator who refuses identification takes distance from what he sees and asks why it is so . What Artaud disparages is a theatrical practice which leaves the spectator untouched, passive. And he calls for a spectator who becomes a participant in the magical or hypnotic process of identification. The solutions are opposing but they grapple differently with the same problem : turning the passive spectator- the spectator who only sees - into an active participant...." Jacques Rancière Frankfurt , August 2004