Actors of Violence: Staging the Arena in Mixed Martial Arts
2011 (English)In: Nordic Theatre Studies, ISSN 0904-6380, Vol. 23, 86-97 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Actors of Violence: Staging the Arena in Mixed Martial Arts Through ethnographic participation in a Swedish mixed martial arts club, this article investigates the interrelationship between theatre and mixed martial arts. Concepts taken from theatre are applied to an analysis of what is constructed in the mixed martial arts arena. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a growing sport where competitors, in a ring or a cage, utilize elbows and knees as well as kicks and other strikes and submission techniques to defeat opponents. The constituents of MMA are similar to those of American wrestling; the main similarity being a staged fight. The distinction is that MMA involves 'authentic' fights. Yet the activity surrounding the event is staged, like in American wrestling, structured and constructed as a public happening, thus, a directed play of sorts. Mixed martial arts competitions (galas) are full of cheering crowds of fans. Music plays and the fighters' artistic handlers are presented as the fighters enter the arena, dancing down the ramp while advancing towards the centre of the stage - the ring. Through data gathered from fieldwork with MMA practitioners as well as participant observation in an MMA club, I explain in this study, interviewing ten key informants, the components of acting and drama-performance that are integral to the production of an MMA fighter's entrance into the arena. I explore how fighters' bodies, through acting and re-enactment of performative staging, become sites of meta-theatrical happenings. I also look at how MMA fighters transform themselves into bodily artists while dramatizing their performance of violence. A fighter's character is transformed into a concept of a warrior-figure in that the fighter's habitus is modelled and then reconstructed in relation to the audience and the eventness of the happening; that is to say, the show and the violent performance on stage.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Föreningen Nordiska Teaterforrskare , 2011. Vol. 23, 86-97 p.
Actor, Bodies, Drama, Stage, Theatricality, Violence
Research subject Ethnology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-52494ISI: 000306391800008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-52494DiVA: diva2:505196