Creating by annotating : the director's notebooks of Jan Fabre and Jan Lauwers
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Performance research : a journal of performing arts. - London, 1996, currens
, p. 43-52
University of Antwerp
Reversing the common understanding of annotation as a posterior act of adding information to already existing sources, this article argues that annotation also serves as a pre-performance procedure facilitating artistic creation. Through an analysis of the notebooks of Jan Fabre and Jan Lauwers, two leading directors in the international theatre scene, it becomes evident how they each develop distinct annotative strategies (including drawings, fragmentary lists, comments and so forth) that provide insight in their artistic poetics. The article discusses to what extent these annotated notebooks differ from the most common type of annotation in the theatre, usually termed didascalia, which refers to stage directions and glosses appearing in the margins of the dramatic text. Postdramatic directors such as Fabre and Lauwers, however, substantially broaden the scope of these didascalia, insofar as text is no longer the epicentre of theatrical creation and other parameters (body, movement, space) become equally important. This juxtaposition is palpably visible in their annotated working documents, in which the interaction between word and image is a central given. The article further considers how this expanded use of annotation brings to light its beneficial impact on creative cognition, suggesting that the acts of drawing, jotting down notes or making lists are crucial strategies to articulate incipient ideas in the artistic imagination. Finally, the importance of the annotated drawing page as a materialization of creative thinking is elucidated against the background of the philosophical debate on hypomnesis and anamnesis, two terms introduced by Plato and recently revived by Bernard Stiegler. By approaching annotation as a means of creation, the article thus demonstrates how it enables artists to proceed from the realm of imagination to the reality of the stage.