THE THEATRE AND PERFORMATIVE ROOTS OF TELEVISION (Teatralne i performatywne korzenie telewizji)
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The article is an attempt to distinguish ontological and genealogical relations between theatre, cinematography and television in a way that would enable us to eschew the dualistic opposition of live and mediatised performances. There is, in fact, a more adequate threefold distinction between live liveness that is typical for theatre; mediatised liveness characteristic for television; and full mediatisation of cinematography. The adequacy of this threefold typology can be seen in many cases characteristic for the early history of cinema and television when the new media productions often used the organisational structures and aesthetics of theatre, especially those of popular theatre forms (English pantomime, music hall, American vaudeville) and spectacles (minstrel shows, medicine shows, freak shows, travelling circus shows, dime or wax museums). The article presents strong evidence supporting the claim that fundamental elements of TV aesthetics (such as keeping up with the latest events, television flow, clip idiom, the phenomenon of celebrities, the domination of ludic function and its commercialisation) have been developed, or at least devised, in the pre-television period, while early cinema (Edison Studios' Kinetoscope, the magic cinema of Georges Mélies) functioned within the sphere of theatre entertainment, and therefore in the live performance paradigm, creating its own hybrids of live and mediatised performances. The cultural needs and dreams of theatre and cinema audiences had been shaped by these conditions, and television was just a new means of fulfilling them.
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