Since the films’ uses of history were a prominent feature
of their representational strategies, my object in this chapter is to
examine how cinema appropriates the past so as to recognise ‘the power
it holds from its shameful kinship with the makers of history and the
tellers of stories’, in JacquesRancière’s words. 12 Therefore in
the films that I have chosen to discuss I probe their kinship
perfect example of what French philosopher
JacquesRancière, one of several intellectual inspirations of the thinking behind the
present study, terms mésentente, or dissensus. He introduces the term to describe a
peculiar form of misunderstanding, which is
Directing scenes and senses
not the conflict between one who says white and another who says black. It is the conflict
between one who says white and another who also says white but does not understand
the same thing by it or does not understand that the other is saying the same thing in the
name of whiteness
This positioning of the theatre as a crucial space in the public sphere
is a concrete move away from the one-way relationship between theatre,
audiences and critics, which renders the former as a passive object to be
interpreted by the latter. As Paweł Mościcki has argued, political theatre
today is not, contrary to a widespread opinion, an empty word. ‘You just
need to fill it with new content, discarding old habits and unnecessary
nostalgia. Activating new interactive forms of engagement’ (2008: 9).
JacquesRancière claimed that ‘politics is, above all, an
, does not.
As JacquesRancière notes, the Aristotelian
distinction between human and animal can only be the result of a
rather unlikely forgetting of Plato. In particular, it involves
suppressing the passages in the Republic that are all too
clear on the animalistic nature of crowds who, at the instigation of
an orator, will express pleasure and displeasure. 11 Rancière argues
’s report for Les Inrockuptibles, 27 January 2009.
Fabienne Pascaud, Télérama n° 3079.
Bernard Stiegler, De la Misère symbolique, La catastrophe du sensible (Paris: Galilée,
2005), pp. 281–2.
Fabienne Pascaud, Télérama.
H. Barker, Ces tristes lieux, pourquoi faut-il que tu y entres?, Actes Sud, 2009, p. 18.
JacquesRancière, Le Spectateur émancipé (Paris: La Fabrique éditions, 2008), p. 20.
My translation of « […] les processus de production aussi bien que de consommation […] qui vise à capter et à canaliser la libido des individus, et à réduire toutes
passive and voyeuristic, and the latter an uncomfortable thought of the
ways in which spectatorial appetites –especially those that spectators
are unwilling to admit –may be catered for by people who produce
spectacles. I consider this latter worry in Chapter 1, in a discussion of
the IS murder videos produced for western spectators.
In terms of the debates around spectatorial ‘passivity’, JacquesRancière’s The Emancipated Spectator is still one of the most valuable
contributions of recent years. Rancière dismisses the ‘passive’ argument,
Giraud, Le murmure des plantes, web, https://fr.ulule.
com/murmure/ (created December 2012, last accessed November 2017).
9 The nature of that participation varies from one practice to the next, and
the politics of participation are (of course) contested. See Bishop, Artificial
Hells; Claire Bishop, ed., Participation (London: Whitechapel Gallery,
2006); Grant Kester, The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative
Art in a Global Context (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011);
JacquesRancière, The Emancipated Spectator (London: Verso, 2011); and
speculate what kind of pedagogue he would have been. 84 If William’s
queer Latin lesson is anything to go by, the dramatist’s
instruction would have been like that of the eighteenth-century teacher
praised by JacquesRancière in The Ignorant Schoolmaster ,
who encouraged pupils to ‘get lost’ in their very
confusion, rather than cramming them with knowledge and ‘having them repeat
it like parrots’, on the
, and I would argue temporally bound, counterpublics to hegemonic discourses is therefore one of the primary political tasks of the theatre.6 Michael Warner has defined counterpublics as
a public ‘structured by alternative discourses or protocols, making different assumptions about what can be said or what goes without saying,’
whose ‘exchanges remain distinct from authority and can have a critical
relation to power’ (2002: 56).
Borowski and Sugiera are invested in the notion of the ‘sensible’
elaborated in JacquesRancière’s The Politics of Aesthetics (2004
In place of the absolutist poetics and controlling ego
of the self-consecrated Elizabethan penman promulgated by Sidney or
Jonson, the distracted absent-mindedness of this ‘poor
player’ augurs something far more modern: the potential that
JacquesRancière finds in pensiveness to deconstruct the literary text
‘in favour of an indeterminate expressive logic’; or which