July, 19th 2004

Dr. Jens Roselt
Theatre Studies

Working the non-perfect

CV ° Studies in applied theatrical studies at Gießen university where he earned his PhD in 1998. His doctorial dissertation titled "Die Ironie des Theaters" (the irony of theatre) was published at Passagen Verlag, Vienna. From 1999-2000 he worked as scientific assistant at the special research project "cultures of performativity" at Freie Universität, Berlin. Since 2001, he works as assitant of the university and chair man of that special research project.
He held university teaching positions at Mainz university and Berlin technical university (stage design). In 1996 he won the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Förderpreis of the Berlin Volksbühne. From 2000-2001 he worked as author for Staatstheater Stuttgart. The emphasis of his research lies on aesthetics of contemporary theatre and performance art, theories of acting, theory and methodology of analysing performances, and performativity in theatre.

Abstract ° Present aesthetic discourse questions the traditional artistic ideal of perfection in a multitude of matters. Perfection is after completion and finishing, the non-perfect, in contrast, creates an openness and a variety of possible chance for interconnection. Especially the own CV hence becomes an issue in theatre. Contemporary theatre shows a lust and interest in working the non-perfect. Layman actors gather among professional actors and not only in the work of Christoph Schlingensief, mentally or physically handicaped people are presented to a piqued audience. However, the idea of the non-perfect giving authenticity to the stage is being unmasked. Especially in Schlingensief's company, the layman are the most exaggerating actors. The non-perfect also delivers a new function of bodyness, since bodies do no longer serve as vituous means of expression but are easily being transformed into extreme conditions. Bodies are both, premise and means of theatrical acting, which they, at the same, confront with opposition as a result of physical and mental excessive demand. There, bodies do not have to develop into an authentic exile, it rather becomes apparent, that bodies especially are constructed by scriptures of civilisation and cultural shapings. Actresses and actors therefore become heroines and heros of contemporary theatre, however, not because they disappear in the shelter of a role, melting to another character, but because staging sets them into an exceptional condition, presenting their identity as patchwork and constant experiment. This makes theatre not to the last bastion of authenticity but contrarily to a place where we become free of the daily pressure to authenticity. Here, audiences can learn the ease and distance you need when new media are constantly impacting stronger into your life.