Deborah Arlene Lütge (South Africa)

"Tracing Footprints in Shifting Sands Transposes Paradigms: An Artist's Perspective" 
"Performing Race and Other Stereotypes: A Memory Bank in a Socio-Political Context"
Presentation and Lecture

Deborah Arlene Lütge

Prof. Deborah Arlene Lütge is the award winning performer/director, published poet/playwright, and seasoned theatre practitioner, is a long-serving Theatre Judge, currently for The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards. Board Member in a South African/Dutch exchange project and Artistic Director of RITE Studios, Lütge’s directing credits range from Broadway Musicals to Shakespeare to diverse dramas and workshops at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival since 1992. After working internationally Lütge founded Durban’s New Director’s Festival & New Playwright’s Festival. Lütge, assistant directed The Serpent (1994) to commemorate 25 years since the USA Kent State Shootings, staged the first South African production of West-Side Story, directed world premieres including People of Heaven, a work for the 2007 Mahatma Gandhi International Peace and Reconciliation Awards; and a 60th Birthday Tribute to South African President Jacob Zuma at the Durban Hilton. 

"Tracing Footprints in Shifting Sands Transposes Paradigms: An Artist's Perspective" 
Power point presentation with audio-visual content 

Drama from age to age engages collaboratively in work centred on reflective praxis. Perspective and treatment are key to the arts reception. Performance embodies theory and practice in ‘mankind doing’ or ‘mankind in action’. The director as collaborative unifier: sifts through material; conceptualizes and interprets within the specific frameworks of the text, the space and logistics; communicates the vision; merges the audio visual meta-language; details the design; picturizes; atmospherically shifts moods; shapes within or outside historical background; or merely negotiating a myriad of considerations, all through one process: production. The director embarks on this collaborative process to achieve a fresh comprehension, through: dramaturgical research and presentation; the acknowledgement of theoretical understanding within an untried context; the practical considerations of the final unique vision. Thus,
performance embraces Freire’s conception of ‘praxis’: “reflection and action upon the world in order to change it” (Freire, 1972, p33).

This powerpoint presentation explores the socio-political contexts juxtaposed in the recent “groundbreaking” (van der Walt, 2009) Shakespearean production Coriolanus, in Fay and Michael Kanin’s Rashomon, and Genbia Hyla’s world premiere Hamlet Deconstructed mounted by DUT’s: Department of Television, Drama and Production Studies. Coriolanus associates through the
Polokwane debacle, Rashomon negotiates the legal perspective in the ‘Zuma’ trials, Genbia Hyla’s Hamlet Deconstructed examines the ‘colonizing impact’ through the reconstitution or reconstruction of four texts: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead, Müller’s The HamletMachine, and Atwood’s “Gertrude Talks Back”. Central to the discussion is the expectation and the reception of Hamlet as a western artistic canon, harnessing academic preconception plus linking
reconstructed texts in a new aesthetic.

"Performing Race and Other Stereotypes: A Memory Bank in a Socio-Political Context"

The performance narratives inscribed in language, culture and race carry historical determination qualified by the universal terms ‘imitation, reflection, representation, and expression’
(Schechner, 131). These Aristotelian perfomativity dynamics are rigorously engaged by South African political contexts. Elam et al. in African American Theatre Performance and History
postulate race as “inherently theatrical” since “theatre … depend[s] on the relationship between the seen and the unseen, between the visibly marked and unmarked, between the real and the illusionary.” Central to the argument of constructed identities is the premise that repeated associations derived from race, reaffirm the credence of these assertions, recognizing visible
differences observed in performance posits these associations as ‘real’ (4). Coco Fusco in “The Other History of Intercultural Performance” refers to Homi Bhabha’s essay ‘The Other Question’ in which Bhabha holds: “‘traditional’ rituals … performed for the camera” compromise authenticity (The Routledge Reader in Politics and Performance ed. by Lizbeth Goodman
with Jane de Gay, 133). Greig Coetzee in White Men with Weapons engages a discourse on the politics of racial representation in the South African autobiographical performance
framework. Autobiography implies ‘memory recall’ as well as experiential knowledge. In performance character is informed by autobiographical detail. Schechner’s Performance
Studies: An Introduction advocates as the heart of postmodernism “[r]ecognizing, analyzing, and theorizing the convergence and collapse of clearly demarcated realities, hierarchies, and
categories” (Schechner, 131). In the pursuit of delineating the boundaries between performing autobiographical material as opposed to the nature of autobiographical recall ‘in performance’,
this paper centres the argument on performance.