Violence, a theatrical tradition since the Greek tragedies, caught my attention. Why would the brutal act of violent become a well-received form of acting and even routine daily occurrence in the TV shows and movies? Bryan Doerries, in his book The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, explains the history of violence in theater that the Greek tragedies sever to a specific group of audiences to grapple with trauma. Such audiences include soldiers, prison guards, and survivors of domestic violence, who suffer from violence. He contends that violence in Greek tragedies is a group therapy and a communal response to suffering. Yet in my observation, violence in todays movie industry becomes a means of entertainment and stimulation. Even back in ancient Rome, gladiatorial contests meant that audiences were familiar with blood and guts as “TV shows”. Should violence on stage serve the purpose to send messages and educate people. With the vast amount of exposure to violence, will people lessen the sin of killing and violence?
Macbeth, produced in Davidson theater department, opened with a series of fight scene. Related to a great show I have seen, the game of throne, I find that both productions started with stimulating violence scenes. (pics) What comes to my mind is that does the scene necessarily set up the background story of the play, or does it only serve the purpose of boost audience adrenaline. There’s one thing to be sure is that violence express something that language depiction can’t manage. Watching the scene of two ruthless murders killing the wife and son of Macduff, I feel a reverence towards physical power when one of the killer blades the already wounded son who was climbing to his blood bursting mother. The body and moaning sounds are such straight forward ways of expressing that before my mind and language could function, I already made the human response I inherited from generations of evolution to be afraid, to escape, or to fight.
As one of the casts myself, it is very interesting to get involve in a production with such many movements and actions. I can hardly deny the beauty of moving my body to express messages, even it is violence. Beauty and brutality are paired. Sometimes I wonder. Are the stage fights truthful enough for the audiences? If they are detectable, do audiences appreciate as performance fight and enjoy its beauty, or they are not frightened by or interrogated by the violence due to the fact that they know it’s not real? If they think its truthfully, do they feel uncomfortable yet revere to see people die? Macbeth, who is the biggest villain, is also depicted as one of the most heroic people in the play. His valiant fight at the beginning of the show and his final fight to his death confuse people that he was once a trustworthy loyal general misled by witches who is still courageous and integrated.
Violence leads to trauma, which in lots of literature work serve as a strong motivation of personal revolution. When we see violence, do we reflect on the dark side of human nature in order to elevate ourselves? Or do we receive the traumatic experience of others and incorporate it as our own humanities of dealing with moral dilemmas?