Interruption: A false sense of participation created by deconstructing the theatre of alienation

By offering a series of general shots from the perspectives of audiences, Interruption (Yorgos Zois) invites a sense of involvement for viewers in the actual theatre and weakens the passive spectatorship by connecting the screening room to the fictional auditorium in the film with “a streamlined continuum of dark seats” (Amber Wilkinson, 2). streamlinedTogether with the Chorus’ hijack which steals the pre-determined play and leads it in an unpredictable direction, the film diverges from its modern adaption of Oresteia and develops an ostensible narrative focus: Deconstructing the theatre of alienation, characterized by the “nonparticipation of spectators (and even of directors and actors) in the creative act” (Jacques Derrida, 14). However, as the film progresses, its thematic focus gradually matures into a revelation that the participation created by this attempt to end audiences’ voyeurism and to erase the “author-god” that makes directors and actors “interpretive slaves who faithfully execute the providential designs of the ‘master’” is illusory (Jacques Derrida, 9).

 

 

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The deconstruction of the theatre of alienation in Interruption begins after the original actors, representing the “enslaved interpreters” who simply carry out the long-finished work of the author, are locked in a glass cage by the Chorus (Jacques Derrida, 9). Bringing audiences on stage to participate in the play and emphasizing their involvement as individuals, the Chorus devotes the entire prologue to their self-introduction where each person stepping up to the microphone is captured in sharp focus. As the play develops in such an unexpected way, the deconstruction evolves into a more direct approach to end audiences’ voyeurism in Act I Part III, when the nameless moderator from Chorus leads the play towards an “alternative ending” by asking all participants to “discuss what Orestes would have done nowadays” and letting Odysseas, one of the audiences, to direct the play. In this way, the nonparticipation of spectators which makes them mere “consumers” of the play seems to be brought to an end (Jacques Derrida, 9).

 

voting

 

However, the illusory nature of the participation of audiences as a whole is revealed as the film starts to grow away from its ostensible narrative focus. In the trial to decide whether the Chorus guy is guilty or innocent, all audiences participate by voting. But the fixed long shot that put them in shallow focus distracts us from the voting process and denies us any sense that the contribution has importance. While the majority of audiences seem to be involved in the play, their participation doesn’t turn into an effectual sentence that decides the outcome of the trial, since the voting takes place after the suicide. Just like the viewers in the real screening room who cannot affect this film, audiences in the fictional auditorium remain mere consumers in the end. Their interaction with the stage is thus converted to a false sense of participation.

Interruption also conveys this illusion in terms of the participation of directors by emphasizing the pre-ordained design of this classical Greek tragedy. Going back to Act I Part III, the Chorus guy’s voluntary decision to give the play an “alternative ending” and hand it over to participants proves his personal contribution as a “director”. The participants, performing as actors mostly with their free will in this new play, also seem to work with the director to create their own craft. However, their participation falls under the original structure of the play fully executed by the Chorus.

 

Swollen eyes 2

 

A series of extreme measures taken by Chorus show that, no matter what happens, the play has to continue following a pre-determined structure. Seeing that the audiences start to leave before the play can reach its original conclusion, the Chorus guy goes so far as to shoot himself in the head in order to resume it. After the play is back on track with the death of a member, the Chorus’ first action is to announce the next part: “Deus ex machina”. What’s more, although the dim orange light and Chorus members’ swollen eyes captured in close-ups by a shaky camera show their shock and agony, they persist in carrying out the trial of Orestes, despite that the dead Chorus guy has never played that character throughout the play. Additionally, the Chorus girl in charge of the stage during the trial doesn’t spend time counting the votes. Instead, she jumps to the same result, acquittal, as the original story. The pre-ordained structure and outcome of Oresteia strictly executed by the Chorus, therefore, work together to reveal the illusory participation of directors in the attempt to deconstruct the theatre of alienation.

 

control room

 

Interruption manages to distract us from its ostensible focus and incur our further contemplation of the film by offering digressions: Shots of voyeuristic perspectives that interrupt the narration. Right after the scene in which Odysseas starts to direct the play, the camera abruptly takes us to the dark control room with cold white light, where we can hear the electric hum and see multiple screens showing colorless pictures. Similar to this scene, the tracking shot that follows the old man to the bathroom after intermission also works to withdraw us from the ongoing play. In this long take, his indifferent reactions after seeing Chorus’s violent treatments of the participants strike us with a sense of alienation, which makes us ponder the effectiveness of redirecting the original play.

 

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Perhaps the moment that most intensely conveys this sense of alienation occurs when we see the long fixed shot focusing on the balcony after the Chorus guy commits suicide in a choiceless effort to carry on the play. Captured in sharp focus, the audiences slowly go back to their seats after witnessing this bloodshed, an excessively normal, quiet, and almost irresponsive reaction which contrasts sharply with the deafening gunfire and the harsh screaming on stage. Representing the alienated voyeuristic perspective, these three scenes cast doubt on the participation created by deconstructing the theater of alienation, and lead to a later revelation of its very nature.

 

Interruption makes commentary on the participation of people in this hijacked play through a series of contradictions. As the crew attempt to contribute to the story, the film manages to render a sense of nonparticipation through multiple voyeuristic perspectives. After audiences and directors show their involvement in various forms, the emphasis on the superficial voting process and the execution of a classical theatrical structure allow for an outlook on the illusory nature of participation presented in this feature. Departing from its focus on deconstructing the theatre of alienation, the film instills a deeper understanding of the nature of participation created by the Chorus’ attempt to build a new stage. (1095 words)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Jacques Derrida, translated by Alan Bass, The Theater of Cruelty and the Closure of Representation, The University of Chicago Press, 1978, P9-14. Print.

Yorgos Zois, quoted in Amber Wilkinson, Yorgos Zois on imagination and reality in Interruption, Eye for Film, Web: https://www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/feature/2015-09-12-yorgos-zois-feature-story-by-amber-wilkinson

Yorgos Zois, director. Interruption. Pan Entertainment. 2015

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