Computer Gaming and Protocols of Improvisation


"All performance involves a consciousness of doubleness, through which the actual execution of an action is placed in mental comparison with a potential, an ideal, or a remembered original model of that action. Normally this comparison is made by an observer of the action.... Performance is always performance for someone, some audience that recognizes and validates it as performance even when...that audience is the self." (Marvin Carlson, Performance, 5-6.)

In his discussion of masks and improvisation, Eldredge discusses the importance of "dual consciousness" for the improvising actor, a formulation wherein the performer is both participant and observer simultaneously: "What is important is the inscribing and imprinting of mental and emotional forms onto the actor's 'other' consciousness through physicality" (37). Eldredge suggests that "acknowledging the cast of characters within" (34) is both closely allied with dual consciousness and the transformative power of masks in improvisational acting. This double consciousness is highly involving cognitively and involves translating--inscribing and imprinting--what can be formulated in consciousness onto the "undisciplined" realms of the unconsciousness. In many respects, the double-consciousness required of performance is a rehearsal for character development.

The anthropology of performance articulated by Turner, Schechner, Chaikin, Brook, and others emphasizes the voluntary discipline required of improvised performance, and the need for frames to establish the playing space. The boundaries of these performance frames are of particular significance, and crossing these thresholds of experience--these liminal zones--retrieves important elements of ritual (as in rites of passage) and play.