This is an evolving exploration of the relationship between theatrical practices and cultural and philosophical movements with the intention of understanding how these forces influenced and gave rise to each other. The other intention of this exploration is to provide Character Building prompts and Acting Techniques (for actors who want to build theatrical characters and humans who want to expand their experience of being) which strive to help make these cultural and philosophical movements experiential in order to allow theater practitioners (and others) to experientially increase their understanding of the historical context and worldview of audience, dramatic characters, and have more ways of being themselves.
Every time period had a different worldview. One interpretation of the advancement of worldviews espoused by Thomas Kuhn and Michel Foucault suggests that our conceptualizations and cosmologies do not necessarily improve over time to become truthful or better. They just change in relation to society itself. As Joseph Roach in Player’s Passion summarizes and expands upon their ideas:
“Any paradigm has anomalies-facts which refuse to fit the theory. As a group of practitioners in any field continues its investigations, anomalies tend to proliferate. When such unsolved puzzles have multiplied to the point at which they subvert confidence in the paradigm, a crisis will develop. If, at this time, there appears a competing paradigm which will resolve the anomalies, accounting for more of the known facts, then the old paradigm will collapse and the new one will be adopted. This new model then becomes the basis of normal science, whole puzzles will occupy its practitioners indefinitely or at least until the next crisis occurs….the history of science is discontinuous….it is a succession of essentially isolated episodes, each internally dominated by a network of theories, interests, and problems, by a way of knowing the world… Theorists beginning with those in Greek antiquity have been analyzed and understood only in relationship to the degree to which they ‘anticipated Stanislavsky,’ despite the fact that when they said that the actor should be inspired and possessed by his role, they meant something quite different from ‘building a character’ and ‘creating a role’…If each age prides itself on having attained the right answers about how the world works, it prides itself equally on being able to view theatrical exhibitions of human feeling that are more realistic and natural than those of the previous age. In fact, each acting style and the theories that explain and justify it are right and natural for the historical period in which they are developed and accepted.”