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Theater Conversation. Linguistic appropriation practices during theater intermissions

Based on conversation and discourse analysis, the project examines how the aesthetic experiences during theater performances are taken up in intermission talks and what type of communicative purposes are associated with these practices. The starting point is the heuristic assumption that aesthetic methods of interfering with routines of communicative experience, as they are available to the theater, can stimulate the audience to discursively reflect on perception habits in everyday communication and the structures of meaning related to them. The project assumes that the traditional characteristics of individual art forms are based on the specific structure and materiality of the communicative arrangements, in which they aesthetically negotiate and/or question the perceptive routines and thereby the established communicative practices of the audience. Under the conditions of a performance of interaction in front of an audience, the theater commands varied media resources for the aesthetic negotiation of communication that can become anchor points for subsequent conversations. Against this background, the study aims to empirically reconstruct the informal communication practices of reflecting communication and media that are motivated by the theater (including the reflection on the theater itself).

For the empirical study, a corpus of data will be established by means of audio documentation that will document the authentic intermission conversations of visitors during theater productions in the Appollo Theater Siegen and the Schauspiel Köln. At the center of the project based on an already conducted pilot study will be

  • methods and forms of secondary linguistic reference (reformulations, paraphrases, quotations, interpretations, commentaries, explications, everyday aesthetic transformations etc.). These are to be analyzed in their formal structures and with regard to their communicative functions of negotiating, stabilizing or questioning communicatively established structures of social order;
  • interactional processes of linguistically reflecting on the theater, particularly elucidations and evaluations, also with regard to the construction of social identities and positions as well as the management of consensus and dissent in the informal communication about art;
  • interactional processes for the production of a specific social situation, the intermission talk (e.g. its setting with regard to time and its framing as an evening pleasure and social event).

The empirical findings are finally to be compared to research on other areas of art communication and set into relation to theories on the social role of theater and art.


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