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Literature

Ritual to Theatre, Victor Turner

Ritual to Theatre

Victor turner

Firstly in Victor Turners chapter on Liminal to Liminod he begins explaining comparative symbology describing how it differs from disciplines like semiotics and symbolic anthropology which he explains are the study of such things like signs symbols and semiotics.

In introducing signs symbols and semiotic he introduces the first theorist of this chapter, Roland baths and Saussure, using this to explain that the a three branches in semiotics, Syntactic- which he explains as ‘the formal relationship of signs and symbols to one and other, apart from there users or external references, the organization and relationship of groups, phases, clause, sentences and sentences structure’. Semitics- the relations of signs and symbols with there users pragmatic- the relationship with signs and symbols to the things we which we refer, that is there referential meaning. I think he starts of with this as he goes on to explain the importance of these signs and symbols in society; he follows that explanation by introducing his thoughts on how symbol have a lot to do with social processes. He tells of how he witnessed performances of rituals ‘as distant phases in the social process’ and how they had to change to fit in with the ‘internal’ changes within there own culture and society.

Victor also brings up the work of Arnold Van Gennep and talked about his work in his book Rites de passage published in French in 1908.

Victor begins to introduce Van Genneps three phases in rite de passage, separation, transition and incorporation. Seperation is deiscribed as a ‘sacred space’ he uses entering a Temple as an example he talks about how it is a time to let go of ‘prevoius social statuses and describes this space and time as a new turn in the seasonal wheel. Following that is transition, which is described as a time of neither here or there, its ‘social limbo’ which can also be known as limen which translates into threshold in Latin and was sometimes called ‘margin’ by Van Gennep. The next stage is incorporation which is explained as ‘the return of the subject to their new, relitivly stable, well defined position in the totle society’.

It is the change in time and space within society, it can be seasonal, a festival or carnival, celebration or a holiday.

Victor also goes on to discus one of the key points in my interest. He talks about the first step of social status to another and the space inbetween. Liminality can also be described as movement between the previous positions into another position, liminality is the time or space in-between, Turner describes liminal as “neither here nor there” it can represents the inbetween stage of transition between one point to another. He uses the example the army conscripts ttwo steps forward movement, after he does what he’s told he’s inbetween, he has stepped into liminality.

Limanality can be thought of as a space nobody comes out of, a space in which we are always in.

Victor uses an example of a Nyakusa or a Ndemby girl in Africa and explains how  when she gets to a certain age she must leave her village to dwell in her husband, and the same for boys they must wait until they are grown up enough to leave there mothers to join another hunting tribe.

They must wait; they are in a liminal process. Victor goes on to discuss how this effects our society by using big bureaucratic organization like university systems and federal government as examples, he says as we are all involved in some form, there is always a want to get further just like  Nyakusa or Ndemby girl waits to leave her village and a boy can leave his mother to become a adult a hunter a hunting man, and in this society we want to get further and move up the ladder too, we want promotions and more, we are stuck in liminality.

‘Lesure can be though of as the inbetween, a ‘neither this nor neither that’. It is inbetween the two stages of work and occupational activity. People are emerging from the work stage into the liminiod stage once they believe they are in the leisure zone, leisure can be seen asa time in being in the liminoid.  ‘One works at the liminal, one plays at the liminoid’ it is when there are events and times which are there just because they are enjoyable which is why it is an event of leisure and not work. Festivals and carnivals are a good example used in Ritual to theatre Carnival is described as a ‘genre of leisure enjoyment’ and ‘its is play separated from work’ a liminoid space. The chapter also describes how if a person comes into such a space maybe in communities a deep feeling of communal connation can arise. The communities have moved into this space together, everybody’s doing the same thing and feel as though they are free from the normal things they would do and there daily rituals.

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