This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.
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Performance within performance:
Howard Barker and the acted life
– some thoughts
It is a cliché that Howard Barker’s texts are rewarding for actors, who delight in
the muscularity of the language, the scale of imaginative landscape and liberty
from the utilitarian. Is there a Barker actor? Are the technical challenges of
playing in Barker unique, or do they surface in any engagement with a poetic
classical text? The definition of a Wrestling School acting style has been elusive
– the company is fluid and
This book focuses on performance construed in the largest sense, as the deployment of a personal style, as imagery of various kinds, and even as books, which in the early modern era often include strongly performative elements. The chapters in the book fall logically into four groups: on personal style and the construction of the self, on drama, on books, and on the visual arts. Personal style is performative in the simple sense that it is expressive and in the more complex sense that it thereby implies that there is something to express. The book takes a broad view of the question of performance through disguise. Disguises in Elizabethan drama are nearly always presumed to be impenetrable, effectively concealing the self, whereas costume is designed to adorn the self, to make the self more strikingly recognizable. The book considers the changing effects of disguise and costume both on concepts of the self and on assumptions about the kind of reality represented by theater. As a practice that makes performance visible as such, theater is characterized by an ongoing reflection on the very norms that make dramatic performance legible and indeed possible. Images are never more performative in and for a culture than when they offer a view onto the differences through which culture is made.
The hybrid television form of docudrama,
blending documentary and drama conventions and modes of address, poses
interesting methodological problems for an analysis of performance. Its
topics, mise-en-scène and performers invite a judgement in relation to
the real events and situations, settings and personae represented, and also
in relation to the ways the viewer has perceived them in other media
Performance notes: absence and
presence in Reykjavik, Iceland, 1972
Good guys and bad guys
Bobby Fischer’s 1972 World Championship contest with the Soviet title-holder
Boris Spassky, held in the Exhibition Hall at Laugardalshöll Stadium in Reykjavik,
Iceland, formally began on 11 July and, after 21 games, ended on 31 August
with Fischer victorious. His reign was short-lived. Failing to agree to a contest
with the Soviet challenger Anatoly Karpov, he was stripped of the title in April
1975, and only returned to competitive play in 1992 with a parodic replication
fairground, cabaret, exhibition
The public needs to be violated in unusual positions.
Francis Picabia (1978: 25)
In Dada’s privileged spaces – the fairground, the cabaret, the exhibition, the
cinema – from Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire to the Salle Gaveau in Paris, via the
Cologne Brauhaus Winter brewery or Otto Burchardt’s Berlin art gallery, it is
enlightening to consider dadaist activities in terms of performance rather than
simply spectacle, process rather than product. Although the term ‘performance
art’ was first used around 1970 to
While several critical works on Spanish cinema have centred on the cultural, social and industrial significance of stars, there has been relatively little critical scholarship on what stars are paid to do: act. Bringing together a range of scholars that attend carefully to the performances, acting styles, and historical influences of Spanish film, Performance and Spanish Film is the first book to place the process of Spanish acting centre stage. Comprising fifteen original essays, the book casts light on the manifold meanings, methods and influences of Spanish screen performance, from the silent era to the present day. It situates the development of Spanish screen acting in both its national and global contexts, tracing acting techniques that are largely indigenous to Spain, as well as unpicking the ways in which Spanish performance has frequently been shaped by international influences and forces. As the volume ultimately demonstrates, acting can serve as a powerful site of meaning through which broader questions around Spanish film practices, culture and society can be explored.
Eating out in a restaurant was a very gratifying experience in 1995 and, by and large, it remains so, although on all dimensions satisfaction has diminished, with service, atmosphere and food suffering the sharpest falls ( Table 3.1 , p. 30 ). This chapter investigates aspects of the performance of dining out in commercial settings, examining in turn the nature and changes in the purposes of dining out, typical companions, service, dishes and meals. In each instance we describe contemporary practice and where possible make comparison with 1995
Ever since their rediscovery in the 1920s, John Donne's writings have been praised for their energy, vigour and drama – yet so far, no attempt has been made to approach and systematically define these major characteristics of his work. Drawing on J. L. Austin's speech act theory, this comparative reading of Donne's poetry and prose eschews questions of personal or religious sincerity, and instead recreates an image of Donne as a man of many performances. No matter if engaged in the writing of a sermon or a piece of erotic poetry, Donne placed enormous trust in what words could do. Questions as to how saying something may actually bring about that very thing, or how playing the part of someone else affects an actor's identity, are central to his oeuvre – and moreover, highly relevant in the cultural and theological contexts of the early modern period in general. Rather than his particular political or religious allegiances, Donne's preoccupation with linguistic performativity and theatrical efficaciousness is responsible for the dialogical involvedness of his sermons, the provocations of his worldly and divine poems, the aggressive patronage seeking of his letters, and the interpersonal engagement of his Devotions. In treating both canonical and lesser-known Donne texts, this book hopes to make a significant contribution not only to Donne criticism and research into early modern culture, but, by using concepts of performance and performativity as its major theoretical backdrop, it aims to establish an interdisciplinary link with the field of performance studies.
Previous studies of screen performance have tended to fix upon star actors, directors, or programme makers, or they have concentrated upon particular training and acting styles. Moving outside of these confines, this book provides an interdisciplinary account of performance in film and television and examines a much neglected area in people's understanding of how popular genres and performance intersect on screen. The advent of star studies certainly challenged the traditional notion of the director as the single or most important creative force in a film. Genre theory emerged as an academic area in the 1960s and 1970s, partly as a reaction to the auteurism of the period and partly as a way of addressing popular cinematic forms. Television studies have also developed catalogues of genres, some specific to the medium and some that refer to familiar cinematic genres. The book describes certain acting patterns in the classic noirs Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Out of the Past and the neo-noirs Chinatown. British television drama in the 1970s had a special interest in the genre of horror. There is no film genre to which performance is as crucial as it is to the biopic. To explore comedy performance is to acknowledge that there is something that defines a performance as 'comic'. The book also examines drama-documentary, the western, science fiction, comedy performance in 'spoof news' programmes and the television 'sit com' and popular Bollywood films.