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Hockey as performance and its function

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A comparison between hockey and a performance.
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  -   Ice Hockey as performance and its function o   We’ll begin by discussing how the ice hockey match can be seen as a performance by relating it to some of the definitions of performance that we have come across. o   Mike Alfreds suggests that in order for performance to occur two groups of people must come together at the same time and place in order for one of the groups to perform something more or less prepared for the other group. In terms of the ice hockey match, we have the players on the two teams and the audience, consisting of fans and the general public, who met at 6pm at Bracknell Ice Rink. The match is prepared as a performance for the audience with a structure that has to be followed to some extent. In this way we can see that the ice hockey match conforms with Alfreds idea of performance. o   Richard Schechner interprets performance on four levels; being, doing, showing doing and explaining showing doing. The ice hockey match falls under the “showing doing” category as t he players are showing the audience the action of ice hockey. We can see clearly that this is a case of “showing doing” as opposed to just “doing” as there are added elements such as the presence of the audience, lighting, music, crowd involvement with chants, cheering and singing and various other ritualistic processes for example, the parading of the players before the match, the singing of the anthems and the shaking of hands at the end of the match. These elements all showcase the action of the ice hock ey match and differentiate it from the “doing” of a training session. o   Another way of looking at performance comes from Gay McAuley. In her article “About Performance: Performance Analysis”, she also outlines a schema for the analysis of performance which we found was easily applicable to the ice hockey match. She suggests that we begin by looking at the stage-auditorium relationship. In this case the stage is the ice rink and the audience is surrounding in an arena. She then looks at décor for example, lighting, which was used throughout the hockey match. They began with colourful lights to indicate the beginning of the game. They then used spotlights in the player parade as they entered. Looking at the performers, they wear a costume of sorts  –  in this case the team uniforms. The team uniforms for the match are designed both for practicality (with padding and helmets and such to keep the players safe, and also displaying their sponsors) as well as for show (they show the separate teams, creating a sense of community which the fans can also be a part of when they wear the supporter shirts). McAuley looks at the changes made in the action and when. We can relate this to the transitions in the ice hockey match when players would be exchanged and music would be played, particularly before a penalty. Looking at the relationship between on and off stage in the match, the players would move from the rink to the side of the ice (or so called “off stage”) but always remained visible to the audience. For the majority of the match, 15 performers would occupy the stage at any one time (6 players per team, 1 ref and 2 linesmen). Music was used in the introduction to hype up the audience, as well as during transitions and after a goal. The songs were specifically selected as popular songs that would energise the audience. Sound effects  were also used to signify the beginning of sections as well as when goals were scored. o   We also looked at Schechner’s 7 functions of performance and attempted to apply these to the match. We found it lined up with two especially well  –   “to entertain” as it creates an exciting spectacle for the audience and “to make or foster community”  as the audience experience the match together and cheer on their chosen team. The match could also be linked with other functions “to create beauty” is subjective but devoted fans may see the game as a beaut iful thing, “to mark or change identity” as people mark their identity with the team they belong to and support as well as “to heal” as the adrenaline from the match would release endorphins and the euphoria and violence of the match could get rid of negative energy (catharsis). Having said this, we are now going to focus in particular on the “entertainment” aspect of the match.  -   According to Schechner “no performance is pure efficacy or pure entertainment” because these two lie on a continuum, however performances can be closer to one than the other. Analysing the hockey match we came to the conclusion that it has more qualities of entertainment than efficacy. For a start, it’s fun for the audience and the players. The audience watches and appreciates the game and although they may get involved in chants, they are not part of the actual performance. It’s played in the here and now and is only for those present in the moment of the performance. The performers are all in control of their actions and know what they are doing. Criticism flourishes in the audience. These all point to the match being entertainment, however we can see that, as Schechner suggests, there are still elements of efficacy present such as the collective creativity of the match, as well as the result which is not predetermined and will have an outcome. -   When analysing the ice hockey match, we also realised that it clearly demonstrated the idea of liminality. To explore this we looked at Victor Turner’s three stages of liminality: separation, liminality and reaggregation. The separation happens at the start of the match. We know the match is beginning because of the dimming lights changed to colours and the entrance of the performers. Part of the separation also includes the congregation of everyone involved at the ice rink  –  a location separate from their daily lives. Liminality takes place as the game is actually happening. There are rituals including the anthems which occur in this time. During this state of liminality, consequences to actions are different to how they would be in the so called “real world”. For example if people began fighting on the streets, they would be pulled apart or the police would be called or some other similar consequence would have to be faced however, during the game these fights are encouraged and the performers are cheered. They are allowed as part of the spectacle and even expected by the audience with the only result perhaps being a penalty. Due to the state of liminality, normal consequences no longer apply. Reaggregation brings everyone back to reality. This is shown with the ritual of the handshakes between the two teams at the end of the game. Then everyone goes home, back to their daily lives, thus ending the state of liminality. Looking further into this point, we turned to Turner’s ideas of the liminal vs. the liminoid and concluded this state to be liminoid. A key thing that led us to this idea was the fact that it is commercialised. The audience pay for their ticket (of their own free will), and the teams are sponsored by various cooperations . It’s a break from society rather than being integrated as the  liminal would be. It was developed apart from the central economic and political processes of society and was idiosyncratic. The optional nature of the match also led us to conclude it could not be liminal. -   Summing up, the characteristics of the hockey match gave it a performative nature with functions including “to entertain” and also “to foster community”. On Schechner’s efficacy entertainment continuum it lies closer to entertainment whilst still containing a few elements of efficacy. This predominance of entertainment led us to consider the hockey match as a liminoid phenomenon which aligned with Victor Turner’s ideas on liminality. In this way it can be seen that the Ice Hockey match between the Bracknell Bees and the Guildford Flames can be effectively analysed as a performance.

11-8-2014

Jul 23, 2017
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