The Toltec teachings and performance training : complementary practices of exploration

Prigge, Lanon Carl (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study aims to discuss the complementarity of Western performance training and the Toltec Teachings. It is motivated by a recognition that performers in training might often have to develop their own means to training „system‟ post-study, especially in environments where limited opportunities exist to share in group contexts, such as Jerzi Grotowski‟s Theatre Laboratory or Eugenio Barba‟s Odin Teatret. The solution of self-study (study of the self by the self) is explored in answer to this challenge. Owing to the fact that theatre commentators and practitioners often reference the need to look to alternative models or „forms of civilisation‟ for support and illumination, the potential of the Toltec Nimomashtic System - a self-motivated system for studying the self - is considered as a potential „other‟ in this regard. This study takes into account that complementarity implies both similarities and differences between the two paths in question, and considers how these might offer support to the challenge of self-study in particular, as well as the context of performance training more generally. Comparisons are made between Western performance training and the Toltec Teachings with reference to theory (ideology), aims and outcomes, and practice (methodology). Such comparative analysis reveals that sharing the characteristics of mystery, resistance and paradox enhances complementarity. This suggests that both the way of the performer and the Warriors Path are paths of exile and exclusion. They have in common a defiance of social convention and a bias toward the non-ordinary or extra daily. This is evidenced most specifically through the pursuit of presence as a state defined by absence. Perception, as a central determinant of presence, is positioned in relation to discoveries in modern physics and Barba‟s (in Christoffersen 1993: 159) synergistic „traveller of speed‟ concept, as a means to elucidation. Investigation of specific Toltec ideas and methods that offer perspectives on destructuring the ego and the worldview it sustains, are seen to support Grotowski‟s via negativa as a process of eliminating blockages that impede effective expression, as well as Barba‟s (Christoffersen 1992: 80) „refusal of culture‟ as a negation or deformation of daily behaviour. Compatible approaches to shifting perceptions of the self by the self, in order to achieve the shared outcome of presence, thus consolidate the overall complementarity of the two paths.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie bespreek die komplimentêre aard van die Westerse performance opleidingsisteme en die Tolteekse leerstellinge. Dit word gemotiveer deur die besef dat performance-studente dikwels na afloop van hul formele studie hul eie opleidingsisteem moet ontwikkel. Dit word genoodsaak deurdat daar beperkte werksgeleenthede is vir studente binne „n konteks soos Jerzi Grotowski se Teater Laboratorium of Eugenio Barba se Odin Teatret om ervarings te deel. Teatermakers en kritici verwys dikwels na alternatiewe modelle of beskawings vir ondersteuning en die Tolteekse Ninomastiese sisteem (‟n selfmotiverende sisteem van selfstudie) word in hierdie studie as alternatiewe sisteem ondersoek. Die studie neem in ag dat die komplementêre aard tussen die westerse opleidingsisteme en die Tolteekse leerstellinge ooreenkomste en verskille impliseer wat selfstudie ondersteun binne die konteks van algemene performance opleiding. Westerse opleidingsmetodes en die Tolteekse leerstellinge word vergelyk ten opsigte van die teorie (ideologie), doelstellings en uitkomstes, sowel as praktyk (metodologie). Uit hierdie vergelyking tussen die twee sisteme blyk dit dat die ooreenkomste aspekte insluit soos misterie, weerstand en paradoks wat die komplementêre aard van die sisteme bevorder en suggereer dat beide die performer- en die Krygersweg roetes van bannelingskap en uitsluiting is. Verdere ooreenkomste sluit die verset teen sosiale konvensies en die keuse van‟n buitengewone lewe in soos gesien kan word in die strewe na teenwoordigheid as ‟n toestand wat deur afwesigheid gedefinieër word. As toeligting word waarneming as ‟n sentrale bepaler vir teenwoordigheid in verhouding met ontdekkings in moderne fisika en Barba se sinergistiese “reisiger van spoed”-konsep geplaas. Die ondersoek na spesifieke Tolteekse idees en metodes bied perspektiewe om die vernietiging van die ego en die wêreldvisie wat dit ondersteun, aan te dui en ondersteun Grotowski se via negativa as ‟n proses om blokkasies af te breek wat die effektiewe uitdrukking van die akteur ondermyn, sowel as Barba (Christoffersen 1992: 80) se “werwerping van kultuur” as ‟n negering of vervorming van daaglikse handeling. Die verenigbare benaderings tot die verskuiwing van die persepsie van die self deur die self om die gemene uitkomste van teenwoordigheid te bewerkstellig, konsolideer die oorhoofse komplimentêre aard van die twee weë.

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