What do we mean by "performance?" As "performers" we know what it means to be on stage. We know that an action on stage is "performed" and the very same action offstage is "done." What is the difference?
There have been a lot of people thinking about this, from Shakespeare (and before) in Hamlet (which we turn to next week) to more recent thought including Goffman's ideas about the performance of everyday life, and the interdisciplinary field of "performance studies." Some useful ideas from performance studies that we can toss around include:
the definition of performance as any behavior consciously separated from the person doing it
the idea that all performance involves a consciousness of doubleness, an awareness that the performance is FOR someone.
*Further reading: Marvin Carlson's Performance: A Critical Introduction
NEXT WEEK: Hamlet!