Schechner, Richard

* : Where in the body is theatricality located? What is its place? Traditionally in Western theatre, the eyes and to some degree the ears are where theatricality is experienced. By etymology and by practice a theatre is a “place of/for seeing.” Seeing requires distance; engenders focus or differentiation; encourages analysis or breaking apart into logical strings; privileges meaning, theme, narration. Modern science depends on instruments of observation, of ocularity: telescopes and microscopes. Theories derived from observations made by means of ocular instruments define the time-space continuum. From super-galactic strings on the one hand to molecular and subatomic wave particles on the other, we “know” the universe by “seeing” it. See = know; know = see; speed = space; distance = time; diachronicity = story. But in other cultural traditions there are other locations for theatricality. One of these, the mouth, or better said, the snout-to-belly-to-bowel—the route through the body managed by the enteric nervous system—is the topic of this essay. The snout-to-belly-to-bowel is the “where” of taste, digestion, and excretion. The performance of the snout-to-belly-to-bowel is an ongoing interlinked muscular, cellular, and neurological process of testing-tasting, separating nourishment from waste, distributing nourishment throughout the body, and eliminating waste. The snout-to-belly-to-bowel is the where of intimacy, sharing of bodily substances, mixing the inside and the outside, emotional experiences, and gut feelings. A good meal with good company is a pleasure; so is foreplay and lovemaking; so is a good shit.