A Discussion on the Culture of the Performer
Culture is one of the most difficult things to define. Trying to fit all of the subtle nuances and colloquialisms of a people group into a ridged form often requires drastic simplification. However, for the purpose of enlightening others in regards to one’s own culture, there is no other alternative. Culture in short, as defined by the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, is “the following ways of life, including but not limited to: Language, Arts and Sciences, Thought, Spirituality, Social Activity, and Interaction.” To that end, the culture of the performer may be defined as the aforementioned ways of life in regards to the people group known as performers with emphasis in language, spirituality, thought, and interaction.
Language is one of the most important traits of the culture of the Performer. Theater, the most prevalent example of the performance culture, uses language to its fullest extent. Theater in and of itself is the use of language, along with sets, movement, and/or props, to convey a message or moral to its target audience. The usage of language with in the performance culture takes on more than just a social meaning. One author suggests:
…language in the theatre is generally far more "powerful", rhetorically and otherwise, than in its social usage, since it is subject to far greater compositional or oratorical constraints than in any other mode of discourse except literature or oratory itself. (Elam 147)
Language, therefore, takes on a significant role in the culture of the performer. By coming up against obstacles such as the duration of a performance, the target audience’s ability to understand, and in some cases, constraints of reality, language becomes more than just a means of communication. For the performer, language is the gateway into another world.
Thought, in regards to culture, can be defined as, “the ways in which people perceive, interpret, and understand the world around them” (Roshan). Performers have a very unique world view. Freedom is key. The freedom of self-expression in and through everything permeates the culture of the performer. With these freedoms in mind, performers believe that performance - that is, the act of presenting an audience with something whether through music, drama, or art - will enrich the lives of their audience and thus make the world a better place to live. This leads to a particularly optimistic world view and lighthearted approach to nearly everything. Dr. David Kerisey, author of Please Understand Me, states, “Performers have the special ability, even among the Artisans, to delight those around them with their warmth, their good humor, and with their often extraordinary skills in music, comedy, and drama” (Kerisey). These same traits and freedoms offer the performer a wider world view and freedom of expression; often allowing them to see beyond the confines of their own mundane existence to what can or should...