Kraj 20. i početak 21. stoljeća zabilježio je pojavu novih trendova na scenama vodećih europskih kazališta koja su se, pod krinkom minimalizma i umjetničke sofisticiranosti, postupno „riješila“ svih dramskih elemenata koji su povezivali kazalište s publikom. Sve je počelo s epskim kazalištem koje je osudilo emocionalnu identifikaciju publike s likovima iz drama, a slijedilo je
kazalište apsurda koje je predstavilo potpuno nerealan svijet i likove nalik karikaturama, s kojim se publika nije mogla identificirati. Posljednje je stiglo in-yer-face kazalište, popularizirajući negativne emocije i likove, pod izgovorom da prikazuje težak i besmislen svakodnevni ljudski život koji treba kritizirati. S druge strane, američko kazalište glavne struje nastavilo je funkcionirati slijedeći osnovne postavke realizma i u 21. stoljeću, promovirajući pozitivne emocije, pozitivne likove i katarzu. Usporedba europskog s američkim suvremenim kazalištem rezultirala je hipotezom prema kojoj suvremene auto/biografske američke drame imaju katarzičan učinak na publiku, čemu uvelike doprinosi i činjenica da istina ispričana u takvim dramama omogućuje publici da se lakše identificira s njihovim likovima. Kao rezultat toga, publika može otpustiti neke svoje potisnute emocije i doživjeti katarzu.
Doktorski rad sastoji se od sedam dijelova: 1) Uvod, 2) Teorija, 3) Metodologija, 4) Rasprava i rezultati, 5) Zaključak, 6) Literatura i 7) Prilog 1.
Svrha istraživanja bila je ispitati hipotezu teorijski i empirijski, te smo stoga anketirali recipijente o njihovim reakcijama na osam suvremenih auto/biografskih američkih drama. Recipijenti, ukupno 30 njih, bili su podijeljeni u dvije skupine: čitatelje i gledatelje. Za analizu smo odabrali sljedeće drame i njihove filmske adaptacije: Jan Van Druten, Sjećam se Mame (1944); Dore Schary, Izlazak sunca na Campobellu (1958); William Gibson, Čudotvorka (1959); William Gibson, Leptiri su slobodni (1969); Beth Henly, Zločini srca (1979), Neil Simon, Sjećanje na Brighton Beach (1983), Robert Harling, Čelične Magnolije (1987) i David Auburn Dokaz (2001).
Nakon uvoda, razvili smo teorijski okvir koji je, osim različitih teorijskih razmatranja o katarzi, također uključio poglavlja o auto/biografiji, suvremenoj auto/biografskoj američkoj drami i teorijama recepcije. U drugom dijelu, ili metodologiji, opisana je i obrazložena anketa, te instrumenti i načini na koje su rezultati ankete bili analizirani. U trećem dijelu predstavili smo rezultate, te smo ih kvantitativno i kvalitativno analizirali. Nakon poglavlja s rezultatima i raspravom slijedio je zaključak, potom dodatak, te popis literature.
Doctoral thesis entitled ''Cathartic effects of contemporary auto/biographical American drama'' has four main chapters: Introduction, Theory, Methodology, Discussion and Results, and Conclusion. The author states her thesis in the introduction, arguing that plots of contemporary auto/biographical American plays, since they are traditionally structured and implicitly clarify their protagonists' psychological motivation, have cathartic effects on the 21st century European recipients. As Puškar Mustafić observes, there was a shift in the European theatrical trends throughout the 20th century, that could be described as a rebellion against the established theatrical tradition. It manifested in the practices of mainstream European theatres that gradually disposed of all traditional theatrical conventions, such as identifiable emotions, well-made plots and characters who develop throughout the play, and consequently they also disposed of catharsis. During the 1950s, Bertolt Brecht, a German dramatist, wrote his theory of ''epic theatre''. He developed his ideas by opposing Aristotelian concepts of identification and catharsis. According to Brecht, the purpose of theatre is not to create an illusion of human life, but rather to inspire society to act and create a positive social change. In Mother Courage, Brecht’s most famous play, the character of Mother is a war opportunist who loses her children to atrocities of war. The dramatists of the theatre of absurd went one step further than Brecht, obliterating all traditional dramatic elements: a five-element plot (i.e. introduction, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution), identifiable characters and emotions. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Becket, the most famous absurd play, does not have a defined beginning, and the problem of waiting for someone named Godot is not resolved in the end. In addition, its characters (Vladimir, Estragon, Lucky and Pozzo) are portrayed as caricatures whose conversations do not make much sense. The last major departure from the traditional theatre occurred in the 1990s with a trend called in-yer-face theater. The plays of in-yer-face do not lack emotions, but they are exclusively negative. Anti-heroes and their victims live in a dark world of physically and emotionally unmotivated torture, where no perpetrator is ever truly punished. Even though the torturers become victims themselves, the purpose is to illustrate a prolonged cycle of violence with no resolution (i.e. catharsis). In many Sarah Kane’s plays (Cleansed, Phaedra’s Love, Blasted etc.), plots contain series of unexplained and unmotivated rapes, different physical tortures and incest.
These new trends of the European theater were not detected in the United States, where the mainstream theatre continued relying on the tradition of American realism. In other words, dramatists retained traditional characterization (protagonists vs. antagonists), structuring their plays around the five-element plot, addressing various issues and offering their resolutions. Therefore, the contemporary American plays continued addressing issues such as death, abuse, prejudice and physical disability, but in a traditional way. Puškar Mustafić choses to test her hypothesis of cathartic effects on recipients, using American plays and their screen adaptations. Furthermore, based on her own recipient experience of a number of contemporary American plays, she recognized that autobiographical plays have a significant influence on emotions. Narrowing down her research, Puškar Mustafić decided to include only auto/biographical plays in her research, as they exteriorize emotions more easily than other plays. The second chapter addresses four theoretical aspects relevant to the thesis statement: catharsis, reception theories, autobiography and contemporary auto/biographical American drama. The ''Catharsis'' chapter opens with Greek philosopher Aristotle who in his definition of tragedy refers to catharsis as a release of emotions of pity and fear caused by some unfortunate events. As Puškar Mustafić observes, the notion of catharsis became widely used in various sciences. For instance, in psychology and medicine catharsis translates as cleansing, religious sciences translate it as purification and one of the philosophical approaches discusses it in terms of intellectual clarification. However, although various sciences offer different approaches to the interpretation of catharsis, they eventually overlap regarding the essence of catharsis that is, they define it as an emotional relief achieved by balancing of unbalanced and unreleased emotions. Narrowing down her definition, Puškar Mustafić refers to Cynthia A. Freeland's research who argues that theoreticians usually approach catharsis in two major ways. Jonathan Lear et al. believe that catharsis is predominantly an emotional experience. In other words, by being provided with the opportunity to experience various emotions in a safe environment, that is theatre, the audience can balance its unbalanced emotions and experience catharsis. The other group of theoreticians, such as Martha Nussbaum, approach catharsis from a cognitive perspective, arguing that catharsis evolves as a result of a learning pleasure. They claim that learning something about ourselves, others or life in general is the primary pleasure of drama. The author tests her Ph.D. thesis on two groups of thirty recipients by having them read or watch screen versions of a selection of eight auto/biographical American plays and fill out a survey questionnaire. For this reason, the second theoretical chapter reviewed major reception theories, whose informal development started with writings of Roman Ingarden and Jan Mukařovský.
They recognized the role of a reader in the creation of a literary work meaning.Following their stream of thought, Hans R. Jauss founded a school of reception theory, introducing the term reception into the broader academic community. Some of his colleagues, including Wolfgang Iser, joined his school. Terms such as collective horizon of expectations and blank spaces in texts supported the theory of the author-reader partnership in the creation of a literary work's meaning. Jauss' theories were opposed in the late 1960s. Stanley Fish and Ronald Barthes considered a reader to be a paradigm of meaning, whereas Michel Foucault promoted the idea of text's superiority over the author. In her research, Puškar Mustafić relied on Jauss' and Iser's theories. The following chapter explores the definitions of autobiography genre throughout history. Puškar Mustafić reviews George Gusdorf's and Philippe Lejeune's theories and arrives at autobiography's general definition: an autobiography is a story an author writes about him/herself. She also refers to Helena Sablić Tomić and uses her classification of autobiography (autobiography, pseudo autobiography and biography), adapting it to drama because autobiography in its essence is a prose genre. The next chapter, ''Contemporary Auto/biographical Drama'', presents the analysis of eight contemporary auto/biographical American plays and their screen adaptations dating from 1944 to 2001. The selected plays317, apart from being aut/biographical, belong to the mainstream American theatre. This implies that they either recieved one of the prestigious theatrical awards (e.g. Pulitzer, Tony, etc.) or that they had over 500 performances. The author presented and analyzed the selected plays chronologically. The biographical play I Remember Mama (1944) by Jan Van Drauten explores the significance of a close-knit family, whose close family connections, especially the encouragement of the strong mother figure, become a powerful tool for overcoming personal fears and insecurities, ultimately leading to success. Sunrise at Campobello (1958) is Dore Schary’s biographical play about Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of the greatest American presidents, and the beginning of his political career. When Roosevelt suddenly falls ill to polio, he is advised to seek recovery within the walls of his comfortable village resort. However, Roosevelt refuses to surrender to the illness and continues pursuing his political career. The play ends with Roosevelt’s ten steps to the lectern at the stage and his successful nomination of Al Smith, the presidential candidate, running for his political party.
William Gibson’s The Miracle worker (1959) is based on Helen Keller’s biography. It focuses on Keller’s childhood. James and Kate Keller, Helen’s parents, have difficulties to raise their blind and deaf daughter. Desperate, they hire a formerly blind girl Annie to be Helen’s teacher and nanny. Clever and spoiled into getting her own way, little Helen is not easily “tamed”. However, after a fierce and persistent struggle, Annie finds a way to Helen’s heart and manages to teach her some manners and sign language. Butterflies Are Free (1969), a biographical play by Leonard Gershe, addresses two universally important themes: generation gap and prejudice about physical disability. Don Baker, a young blind man living with his mother, moves to New York to start an independent life. Despite his disability, Don is a talented musician and a very intelligent young man. The complication of the play’s plot revolves around the miscommunication between Don and his mother, resulting in a conflict between them. Mrs. Baker, Don’s mother, feels lonely after Don moved to another apartment and, instead of telling her son about her feelings, she expresses her sorrow by constantly criticizing him and interfering in his new relationship with his girlfriend Jill. Don feels as he can never live up to his mother’s expectations and subconsciously blames her for all his failures, begging her to return home after his relationship with Jill fails. The conflict is resolved after both Mrs. Baker and Don admit their mistakes and realize that they both have to accept their new lives. In Beth Henley’s pseudo-autobiographical play Crimes of the Heart (1979), Magrath sisters (Meg, Lenny and Babe) reunite in a family house in Hazelhurst, a small southern American town. The reason for their reunion is the crime committed by their youngest sister Babe, who shot her husband after he had been abusing her for years. The sisters’ homecoming is a curse and blessing, as they constantly recall painful memories and childhood traumas. Their father left them and then their mother committed suicide. However, the sisters also reconnect with one another and realize joyfully that they are each other’s greatest support. Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983) by Neil Simon is a pseudo-autobiographical play about the family of Jewish immigrants who struggle to make ends meet. Eugene Jerome, Kate and Jack Jerome’s younger son, is ‘’the narrator’’ of the play and tells the story about his family and their struggles in a humorous way, expressing love and empathy for them. Robert Harling, a southern American dramatist, vented his sorrow caused by his sister’s early death by writing an autobiographical play Steel Magnolias (1987). In the play, Shelby, a young and beautiful protagonist, dies after an unsuccessful kidney transplantation. However, the play is not only about the tragic death of a young person, but also about friendship and strength of southern American women, symbolically represented as steel magnolias.
Proof (2001), a biographical play by David Auburn, is supposedly inspired by various notable scientists such as John Forbes Nash and Sophie Germain. Catherine, a daughter of the late math genius and former university professor Robert, claims she wrote a revolutionary mathematical proof. Her sister Claire and her boyfriend Hal do not believe her, since she quit university to take care of Robert who had gone insane before he died. In the play, Auburn tackles several themes including death, prejudice and a thin line between a lunatic and genius. The purpose of the reasearch is stated in the ''Methodology'' chapter. The author's hypothesis is that contemporary auto/biographical American plays have cathartic effects on the 21st century European audience. As Puškar Mustafić observes, catharsis is not a self-evolving experience, but rather a result of complex psychological processes preceding it. Apart from the main hypothesis of auto/biographical American plays (H3a), the author suggests three other supporting hypotheses: -The recipients will react to the themes authentically addressed by their authors by demonstrating equal emotional reactions (H1a) -The auto/biographical aspect of the selected plays will intensify the recipient's emotional reactions (H2a) -The readers' and viewers' experience will result in recipients' (H3a): a) Emotional catharsis: - recipients empathize with the characters -recipients feel emotionally unburdened after they had been given the opportunity to re-live their experiences by reading/watching the selected plays b) Cognitivist catharsis - recipients feel intellectual pleasure after they had learnt something about themselves, others or life in general by reading/watching the selected plays -Recipients' cathartic experience will not hinder the resolution of some of their real-life dilemmas (H4a) Since the research conducted also included a quantitative analysis of the response of two different recipient groups (readers and viewers), the author's claim pertaining to all of the above listed hypotheses was that the two different types of reception will not create statistically significant differences (H1, 2, 3, 4 b). As Puškar Mustafić explains in “Materials”, a methodological subchapter, the screen adaptations of the plays are almost identical to the written texts. However, there are still slight differences evolving from the two arts’ different ways of expression and perspectives.
For instance, the movies often give way to censorship or language economy to emphasize certain issues. Likewise, a close-up filmed scenes that can stress certain aspects and issues cannot be used in theatre. However, a conclusion is that the screen versions of the plays do not distort authors’ ideas. As Puškar Mustafić concludes, this is probably because the authors of the selected plays were often also scenarists or directors of their plays. The ''Methodology'' chapter covers the descriptions of the following: - Research method - Research materials - Research sample - Pilot and main study - Research instruments For this research, the author selected the sampling method, subtype non-probability and relied on the so-called snowball technique. A survey consisting of fifteen theses-related questions is used for data collection. Then, a pilot study was carried out with two groups of students at the universities of Tuzla and Zenica. These results were used to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the research methodology. The participants of the pilot study who watched a screen adaptation of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible (1953) were actively involved in a post-viewing discussion, giving constructive suggestions for the potential improvement of the research. However, the pilot survey lasted longer than expected. Consequently, it would have been extremely demanding to find the planned number of survey participants and the author decided to modify the research by reducing the number of plays (20-8) and survey participants (100-30). Thus, the main study included thirty survey participants with different university degrees (teachers, psychologists, electrical and mechanical engineers, etc.). Both the pilot and main research were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. For the purposes of the quantitative analysis, a certified SPSS 18.00 software was used, as well as chi-square and Fisher exact tests. The qualitative analysis included the classification of the recipients' responses according to the topics they addressed and then they were analyzed in relation to the plays' plots and their characters.
The results of different question groups were presented in the ''Results and discussion'' chapter. The first question group pertained to recepients' demographic characteristics and it included questions 1 („How did you learn about the play's content?“ and 15 (Please state your gender, age and educational degree level.). The dominant themes and emotions were explored through the analysis of the recipients' answers to the second question group, which involved questions 2 („Which themes presented in the play affected you the most?) and 3 („The events described in this play made me feel...“). The effects of the auto/biographical content on the recipients, in relation to their experience with autobiography, were analyzed in the third question group, consisting of questions 4 („Did the knowledge of the autobiographical elements in this play itensify your emotional response to it? “), 5 („What is your personal assessment of your emotional experience in relation to autobiographical? Is there a difference between your reaction to a real life and a fictional event?“) and 6 („Would you react to this play in the same manner, if it were not autobiographical?“). The fourth question group, included questions 7 („Did this play remind you of an event from your own life? Which one? “), 8 („Were you able to process your feelings related to that event before you read or saw this play? “) and 9 („To what extent did this play remind you of your own experience?“). The purpose of this question group was to determine the effects of the auto/biographical content on recipients in relation to their personal experince. The fifth question group conisisted of five questions, and the analysis of recipients' answers was aimed at determining the overall cathartic effects of contemporary American plays on the recipients. Question 10 („How did you feel after experiencing emotions caused by reading/viewing this play?), was aimed to determine the extent of recipents' emotional catharsis. The purpose of questions 11 („Did reading/viewing this play help you resolve some of your personal dilemmas?) and 12 („Which ones?) was to determine whether the experience of various emotions by recipients affected their ability to resolve some of their life dilemmas. Finally, the answers to questions 13 („Did you learn anything by reading/viewing this play?) and 14 („Shortly describe what you learned by reading/viewing this play“) were analyzed in order to determine the extent of cognistivist catharsis in recipients. The results were presented both graphically and descriptively, that is the responses to individual survey questions were first shown in contingency tables and then they were followed by descriptions and discussions. For the purposes of the graphic presentation of qualitative analysis, the classification tables were used.
In the conclusion, the author summarizes the research results, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the research. The assumptions made in the two hypotheses (H1a and H3a) were confirmed, while two other hypotheses (H2a and H24) were partially confirmed. In other words, majority of recipients had the same emotional reactions to the themes the authors authentically addressed in their plays. Likewise, the responses of recipients demonstrated the existence of both emotional and cognitivist catharsis, which were caused by the reception. Furthermore, the auto/biographical aspect of the selected plays intensified the recipients' emotional response and the same phenomena is identified regarding the recipients' resolution of their real-life dilemmas. Finally, in the majority of cases, two different ways of reception of the selected plays did not result in statistically significant differences regarding the outcome of the research. Minor cases in which statistically significant differences did occur are explained by a different focus on a viewing perspective or reading interpretation.