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By Michael Kirby

Michael Kirby provides a penetrating glance a theater concept and research. His strategy is analytically complete and versatile, and nonevaluative. Case reviews show this new angle and checklist performances that another way will be lost.

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They take place on plain, bare stages; the actors do not relate to or refer to imaginary locales. The performers are themselves; they are not dressed in any unusual way, nor do they portray characters. In fact, Handke has written dialogue for performers who do not necessarily have to act. The scripts require no pretense or emotion. The performers speak. They have memorized what Handke has written, and they have rehearsed. But this does not, in itself, make a person an actor. People recite poems and speeches without acting.

Given the eagerness of actors to act, it is doubtful whether there has ever been a production of these scripts that did, in fact, avoid the use of acting. Handke's My Foot, My Tutor makes use of simple acting by reducing the performers' means: the two characters do not talk, they wear neutral half-masks, and, for the most part, they perform ordinary movements (that sometimes seem extraordinary because they contradict expectancies and do not "fit" the context). " There is a cat in the play. A cat cannot be trained and does not act.

When Le Living opened its next production in Paris in October 1964, the style and form, if not the sociopolitical nature of the content, had changed completely. Mysteries and Smaller Pieces was a Happening. ) Of course, Mysteries was not called a Happening by the liVing Theatre, and few, especially in Europe, recognized it as such. (Claes Oldenburg, who saw the piece in Europe, identified it, but this might be expected. ) At any rate, the performance was without plot, story, or narrative. It was divided into sequential scenes or compartments-one emphasized movement, another sound, another the smell of incense, and so forth.

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