Comedy and the Spirit
Letter To The Editor
Editorial: The Spirit of Comedy
Feature: The Power of the Carnival Satirist: Taking Laughter Seriously
Abstract: Utilizing theories of satire and laughter, in particular Mikhail Bakhtin’s understanding of thecarnivalesque, David Charles investigates methods of spontaneous theatre practice used to pursue serious work. Analyzing mission statements, performance history, and audience reception of performances by Second City, ComedySportz, Pittsburgh’s Church Ladies, and others, the author demonstrates how the theatrical carnival spirit can expose artificial hierarchical, racial, and gender barriers yet also reinforce existing negative stereotypes. This essay considers how many spontaneous improvisational troupes seek to move beyond the temporary space of carnival to pursue active social-political agendas that empower performers and audience.
Feature: Wickedly Devotional Comedy in the York Temptation of Christ
Abstract: Mark West speaks with Sunil Pokharel, Artistic Director of the Aarohan Theatre Group, about the importance of humor in Nepalese kachahari forum theatre. Inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, kachahari forum theatre confronts social issues such as governmental corruption, gender discrimination, and the marginalization and dehumanization of Dalits (“Untouchables”) through interactive performances emphasizing conflict resolution. Many of the injustices addressed in the kachahari performances stem from the Hindu caste system and its inextricable connection with Nepal’s bureaucracy, which maintains the power imbalance between the upper and lower castes. In this interview, Pokharel expands on the creative process of crafting subversive theatre in a nation silenced by state censorship, and explores the use of humor as a means of entertainment, a method of therapy, and an essential tool for social change.
Profile: Rising Image Productions & Target Practice
W. Barrett Huddleston
Book & Performance Reviews:
- Victor Emeljanow-Theatre and Social Change, Alisa Solomon (Ed.)
- James M. Brandon-Staging the Savage God, Ralf Remshardt
- Peter Senkbeil-Performance Theory, Richard Schechner
- Jill Stevenson-“Altar Boyz” at Dodger Stages, Brooklyn, NY
- Jamie Gianoutsos-“The Magic Flute” at Baylor University, Waco, Tx
- Daniel Inouye-“Spamalot” at the Schubert Theatre, New York, NY