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By Michael Kirby

Michael Kirby provides a penetrating glance a theater idea and research. His procedure is analytically accomplished and versatile, and nonevaluative. Case stories show this new angle and list performances that differently will be lost.

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In Happening-like presentations, Ralph Ortiz-and others before himhad decapitated live chickens. Peter Brook included the burning of a butterfly in US. (Live butterflies were seen flying out of a box, but there is some doubt whether the burned butterfly was indeed real. Cutting the head off a chicken makes death obvious; a butterfly can be faked. ") One of the scenes in Mysteries and Smaller Pieces was a sound-and- movement exercise taken from the Open Theatre. Two lines of performers face each other.

Even so, if what is put into the work is what is supposed to be taken out, we have the communication mQdel. In a performance built upon this model, as most performances are, every element is intended to convey meaning or to aid in the process of decoding that meaning. If certain formal qualities are present, that is acceptabe, but they, too, are related to, and subservient to, meaning. We could diagram the experience of this kind of theatre as a triangle with meaning at the upper vertex. Figuratively, it rises over all the other elements or aspects of the presentation; all the rest are there only to support the meaning.

In the first case, it is more useful to talk of "psychological action," in the second Uphysical action," although both actions are actually psychophysical. The continuity structure of the former would be mental; that of the latter, perceptual. An action may be performed by one person or several. All of the characters in a play, therefore, may be taking part in one action. But this large action is made up of many smaller actions. Actions fit uinside" each other like boxes within boxes. Many eyes may blink during the search for the murderer.

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