Artaud and His Doubles
Kimberly Jannarone University of Michigan Press, 2010 Library of Congress PQ2601.R677Z685 2010 | Dewey Decimal 848.91209
Artaud and His Doublesis a radical re-thinking of one of the most influential theater figures of the twentieth century. Placing Artaud's writing within the specific context of European political, theatrical, and intellectual history, the book reveals Artaud's affinities with a disturbing array of anti-intellectual and reactionary writers and artists whose ranks swelled catastrophically between the wars in Western Europe.
Kimberly Jannarone shows that Artaud's work reveals two sets of doubles: one, a body of peculiarly persistent received interpretations from the American experimental theater and French post-structuralist readings of the 1960s; and, two, a darker set of doubles---those of Artaud's contemporaries who, in the tumultuous, alienated, and pessimistic atmosphere enveloping much of Europe after World War I, denounced the degradation of civilization, yearned for cosmic purification, and called for an ecstatic loss of the self. Artaud and His Doubles will generate provocative new discussions about Artaud and fundamentally challenge the way we look at his work and ideas.
This fascinating volume explores the theme of mutating and adapting media in its relation to theatre and performance. Bringing together international scholars and artists, the editors offer a comprehensive overview of the changing nature of theater, focusing on interactivity, corporeality, liveness, surveillance, spectacle, performativity, and theatricality. Bastard or Playmate? shows how dismantling the medium of theater has led to a fertile ground for new art. This wide-ranging and vibrant book provides an excellent guide for readers unfamiliar with the field of intermediality, as well as researchers and experienced theater artists.
Taking up the work of prominent theater and performance artists, Beyond Text reveals the audacity and beauty of avant-garde performance in print. With extended analyses of the works of Edward Gordon Craig, German expressionist Lothar Schreyer, the Living Theatre, Carolee Schneemann, and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, the book shows how live performance and print aesthetically revived one another during a period in which both were supposed to be in a state of terminal cultural decline. While the European and American avant-gardes did indeed dismiss the dramatic author, they also adopted print as a theatrical medium, altering the status, form, and function of text and image in ways that continue to impact both the performing arts and the book arts.
Beyond Text participates in the ongoing critical effort to unsettle conventional historical and theoretical accounts of text-performance relations, which have too often been figured in binary, chronological (“from page to stage”), or hierarchical terms. Across five case studies spanning twelve decades, Beyond Text demonstrates that print—as noun and verb—has been integral to the practices of modern and contemporary theater and performance artists.
"A fascinating book [and] a sympathetic look at the man who glued General Motors together and in the process made Flint one of the great industrial centers of America."
---Detroit Free Press
"It is refreshing to report that Billy Durant is one of the best researched books dealing with an automotive giant."
"Billy Durant fills in a masterly way the only important void remaining concerning the work of the motorcar pioneers."
---Richard Crabb, author of Birth of a Giant: The Men and Incidents That Gave America the Motorcar
What explains Billy Durant's powerful influence on the auto industry during its early days? And why, given Durant's impact, has he been nearly forgotten for decades?
In search of answers to these questions, Lawrence Gustin interviewed Durant's widow, who provided a wealth of previously unpublished autobiographical notes, letters, and personal papers. Gustin also interviewed two of Durant's personal secretaries and others who had known and worked with the man who created General Motors. The result is the amazing account of the mastermind behind what would become, as the twentieth century progressed, the world's largest company.
"A thoughtful and engaging contribution to the field that will have a sustained and lasting impact on the way feminist performance is defined and understood, as well as on how feminist histories and historiographies continue to challenge and transform the larger field of performance."
---Charlotte Canning, The University of Texas at Austin
"Harding forcefully challenges and destabilizes the male-centered Eurocentric genealogy of the avant-garde, which he claims is an uncontested, linear, positivistic history, unproblematized by theory. Then he argues that this gendered biased version of the European avant-garde is carried over into American historiography . . . A forceful case for a revisionist history."
---Daniel Gerould, The City University of New York Graduate Center
Cutting Performances challenges four decades' worth of scholarship on the American avant-garde by offering a provocative reconceptualization of the history of avant-garde performance along feminist lines. Focusing on five women artists (Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Gertrude Stein, Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneemann, and Valerie Solanas) whose performance aesthetics made prominent use of collage techniques, James M. Harding sheds light on the cultural history of the avant-garde and the role that experimental women artists played in that history. He investigates the prominent position that collage technique occupied within the artists' performance aesthetic, and the decisively feminist inflection that their work gives to collage as a mode of avant-garde expression. The radical juxtapositions in their works produce the powerful effects of making the familiar strange and establishing contexts from which new understandings may emerge.
Harding examines the performative dimensions of collage in experimental, feminist redefinitions of the literary, graphic, and theatrical arts, filling a void in a scholarly discourse that, while ostensibly about the vanguard, has lagged well behind other significant theoretical and historiographical currents. Cutting Performances not only challenges assumptions that have governed scholarship on the American avant-garde but also establishes a context to rethink the history of American avant-garde performance along feminist lines. It will appeal to audiences interested in theater history and performance studies as well as those interested in the cultural history of the avant-garde and the role that feminist experimental artists have played in it.
James M. Harding is Professor of English at the University of Mary Washington. His other books include Not the Other Avant-Garde: Transnational Foundations of Avant-Garde Performance (with John Rouse); Restaging the Sixties: Radical Theaters and Their Legacies (with Cindy Rosenthal); and Contours of the Theatrical Avant-Garde: Performance and Textuality.
Illustration: Carolee Schneemann in Eye Body-36 Transformative Actions (1963) Action for camera (Photograph by Erró). Reproduced by permission of Carolee Schneemann.
The Ghosts of the Avant-Garde(s) offers a strikingly new perspective on key controversies and debates within avant-garde studies, arguing for the importance of reopening pivotal controversies and debates in avant-garde studies and challenging pronouncements of the “death of the avant-garde” that tend to obscure the diversity and plurality of avant-garde gesture and expression.
James M. Harding revisits iconic sites of early 20th-century performance to examine how European avant-gardists attempted—unsuccessfully—to employ that discourse as a strategy for enforcing uniformity among a politically and culturally diverse group of artists. He then takes aim at historical and aesthetic categories that have promoted a restrictive history and theory of the avant-garde and narrow readings of avant-garde performance. Harding reveals the Eurocentric undercurrents that underlie these categories and urges a consideration of the global political dimensions of avant-garde gestures. His book will interest scholars of theater and performance, art history, and literary studies, as well as those interested in the relation of art to politics in various historical periods and cultures.
We know that size matters in many areas of human endeavor, but what about works of the imagination? Why do some dramatic creations extend to five hours or more, and how does their extreme length help them accomplish extraordinarily ambitious aims? In Great Lengths, theater critic and scholar Jonathan Kalb addresses these and other questions through a close look at seven internationally prominent theater productions, including Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach, the Royal Shakespeare Company's Nicholas Nickleby, and the "durational works" of the British experimental company Forced Entertainment. This is a book about extreme length, monumental scope, and intensive immersion in the theater in general, written by a passionate spectator reflecting on selected pinnacles of his theatergoing over thirty years.
The book's examples, deliberately chosen for their diversity, range from adapted novels and epics, to dramatic chronicles with macrohistorical and macropolitical implications, to stagings of super-size classic plays, to "postdramatic" works that negotiate the border between life and art. Kalb reconstructs each of the works, re-creating the experience of seeing it while at the same time explaining how it maintained attention and interest over so many hours, and then expanding the scope to embrace a wider view and ask broader questions. The discussion of Nicholas Nickleby, for example, considers melodrama as a basic tool of theatrical communication, and the section on Peter Brook's The Mahabharata explores the ethical problems surrounding theatrical exoticism. The chapter on Einstein on the Beach grows into a reflection on the media-age status of the much-debated Gesamtkunstwerk (or "total artwork") and a reassessment of the long avant-gardist tradition of challenging the primacy of rational language in theater. The essay on Peter Stein's Faust I + II becomes a reflection on the interpretive role of theater directors and the theatrical viability of antitheatrical closet drama. Great Lengths thus offers a remarkable panorama of the surprisingly broad field of contemporary marathon theater—an art form that diverse audiences of savvy, screen-weaned spectators continue to seek out, for the increasingly rare experiences of awe, transcendence, and sustained immersion that it provides.
Great Lengths will appeal to general readers as well as theater specialists. It situates the chosen productions in various historical and critical contexts and engages with the many lively scholarly debates that have swirled around them. At the same time, it uses the productions as springboards for wide-ranging reflections on the basic purpose and enduring power of theater in an attention-challenged, media-saturated era.
This engrossing studyinvestigates the connections between hearing and deafness in experimental, Deaf, and multicultural theater. Author Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren focuses on how to articulate a Deaf aesthetic and how to grasp the meaning of moments of “deafness” in theater works that do not simply reinscribe a hearing bias back into one’s analysis. She employs a model using a device for cross-sensory listening across domains of sound, silence, and the moving body in performance that she calls the “third ear.”
Kochhar-Lindgren then charts a genealogy of the theater of the third ear from the mid-1800s to the 1960s in examples ranging from Denis Diderot, the Symbolists, the Dadaists, Antonin Artaud, and others. She also analyzes the work of playwright Robert Wilson, the National Theatre of the Deaf, and Asian American director Ping Chong. She shows how the model of the third ear can address not only deaf performance but also multicultural performance, by analyzing the Seattle dance troupe Ragamala’s 2001 production of Transposed Heads, which melded classical South Indian use of mudras, or hand gestures, and ASL signing.
The shift in attention limned in Hearing Difference leads to a different understanding of the body, intersubjectivity, communication, and cross-cultural relations, confirming it as a critically important contribution to contemporary Deaf studies.
Liquor Store Theatre
Maya Stovall Duke University Press, 2020 Library of Congress PN2193.E86S768 2020
For six years Maya Stovall staged Liquor Store Theatre, a conceptual art and anthropology video project---included in the Whitney Biennial in 2017---in which she danced near the liquor stores in her Detroit neighborhood as a way to start conversations with her neighbors. In this book of the same name, Stovall uses the project as a point of departure for understanding everyday life in Detroit and the possibilities for ethnographic research, art, and knowledge creation. Her conversations with her neighbors—which touch on everything from economics, aesthetics, and sex to the political and economic racism that undergirds Detroit's history—bring to light rarely acknowledged experiences of longtime Detroiters. In these exchanges, Stovall enacts an innovative form of ethnographic engagement that offers new modes of integrating the social sciences with the arts in ways that exceed what either approach can achieve alone.
The theater company Mabou Mines has for the past forty years created pathbreaking new theater by combining the latest concepts in music, visual arts, and technology with traditional forms of creative expression: puppetry, text, movement, theater design. From the beginning, the evanescence of performance and the dynamics of group work attracted the group. Most of their early pieces were never recorded, leaving little documentation of their foundational productions. Mabou Mines: Making Avant-Garde Theater in the 1970s provides this missing history, attempting to capture and describe the explorations of a group who set out to create indescribable performance. Iris Smith Fischer makes visible once again the celebrated company's least documented work, and offers accounts of the decisions and events that defined Mabou Mines' ideas and methods, particularly their creative collaborations with visual artists, musicians, writers, and dancers. Focusing on the heady days of the company's founding and first ten years, the book traces Mabou Mines' intellectual and artistic roots, frames them within the 1970s avant-garde, and outlines their significance in contemporary performance.
Since Chicago’s founding, theater has blossomed in the city’s makeshift spaces, from taverns to parks, living rooms to storefronts. Makeshift Chicago Stages brings together leading historians to share the history of theater and performance in the Second City. The essays collected here theorize a regional theater history and aesthetic that are inherently improvisational, rough-and-tumble, and marginal, reflecting the realities of a hypersegregated city and its neighborhoods. Space and place have contributed to Chicago’s reputation for gritty, ensemble-led work, part of a makeshift ethos that exposes the policies of the city and the transgressive possibilities of performance.
This book examines the rise and proliferation of Chicago’s performance spaces, which have rooted the city’s dynamic, thriving theater community. Chapters cover well-known, groundbreaking, and understudied theatrical sites, ensembles, and artists, including the 1893 Columbian Exposition Midway Plaisance, the 57th Street Artist Colony, the Fine Arts Building, the Goodman Theatre, the Federal Theatre Project, the Kingston Mines and Body Politic Theaters, ImprovOlympics (later iO), Teatro Vista, Theaster Gates, and the Chicago Home Theater Festival. By putting space at the center of the city’s theater history, the authors in Makeshift Chicago Stages spotlight the roles of neighborhoods, racial dynamics, atypical venues, and borders as integral to understanding the work and aesthetics of Chicago’s artists, ensembles, and repertoires, which have influenced theater practices worldwide. Featuring rich archival work and oral histories, this anthology will prove a valuable resource for theater historians, as well as anyone interested in Chicago’s cultural heritage.
The women’s experimental theater space called the WOW Café (Women’s One World) has been a vital part of New York’s downtown theater scene since 1980. Since that time, WOW has provided a place for feminist and particularly lesbian theater artists to create, perform, and witness a cultural revolution. Its renowned alumnae include playwright and actor Lisa Kron, performance artists Holly Hughes and Carmelita Tropicana, the theater troupe the Five Lesbian Brothers, and actors/playwrights Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver, and Deb Margolin, among others.
Memories of the Revolution collects scripts, interviews, and commentary to trace the riotous first decade of WOW. While the histories of other experimental theater collectives have been well documented, WOW’s history has only begun to be told. The anthology also includes photographs of and reminiscences by Café veterans, capturing the history and artistic flowering of the first ten years of this countercultural haven.
Almost without exception, studies of the avant-garde take for granted the premise that the influential experimental practices associated with the avant-garde began primarily as a European phenomenon that in turn spread around the world. These ten original essays, especially commissioned for Not the Other Avant-Garde, forge a radically new conception of the avant-garde by demonstrating the many ways in which the first- and second-wave avant-gardes were always already a transnational phenomenon, an amalgam of often contradictory performance traditions and practices developed in various cultural locations around the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, Argentina, India, and Japan. Essays from leading scholars and critics-including Marvin Carlson, Sudipto Chatterjee, John Conteh-Morgan, Peter Eckersall, Harry J. Elam Jr., Joachim Fiebach, David G. Goodman, Jean Graham-Jones, Hannah Higgins, and Adam Versényi-suggest collectively that the very concept of the avant-garde is possible only if conceptualized beyond the limitations of Eurocentric paradigms.
Not the Other Avant-Garde is groundbreaking in both avant-garde studies and performance studies and will be a valuable contribution to the fields of theater studies, modernist studies, art history, literature, and music history.
"Joins the growing field of critical and transnational theories on the arts. . . its grounding in live performance and its foregrounding of the performative human body presents a new theoretical paradigm that is pathbreaking."
--Haiping Yan, University of California, Los Angeles
James M. Harding is Associate Professor of English at Mary Washington University. He is author of Adorno and "A Writing of the Ruins": Essays on Modern Aesthetics and Anglo-American Literature and Culture and editor of Contours of the Theatrical Avant-Garde: Performance and Textuality.
John Rouse is Associate Professor of Theater at the University of California, San Diego. He is author of Brecht and the West German Theatre.
Between the world wars, several labor colleges sprouted up across the U.S. These schools, funded by unions, sought to provide members with adult education while also indoctrinating them into the cause. As Mary McAvoy reveals, a big part of that learning experience centered on the schools’ drama programs. For the first time, Rehearsing Revolutions shows how these left-leaning drama programs prepared American workers for the “on-the-ground” activism emerging across the country. In fact, McAvoy argues, these amateur stages served as training grounds for radical social activism in early twentieth-century America.
Using a wealth of previously unpublished material such as director’s reports, course materials, playscripts, and reviews, McAvoy traces the programs’ evolution from experimental teaching tool to radically politicized training that inspired overt—even militant—labor activism by the late 1930s. All the while, she keeps an eye on larger trends in public life, connecting interwar labor drama to post-war arts-based activism in response to McCarthyism, the Cold War, and the Civil Rights movement. Ultimately, McAvoy asks: What did labor drama do for the workers’ colleges and why did they pursue it? She finds her answer through several different case studies in places like the Portland Labor College and the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee.
The Scene of Foreplay: Theater, Labor, and Leisure in 1960s New York suggests "foreplay" as a theoretical framework for understanding a particular mode of performance production. That mode exists outside of predetermined structures of recognition in terms of professionalism, artistic achievement, and a logic of eventfulness. Foreplay denotes a peculiar way of working and inhabiting time in performance. It is recognized as emblematic of a constellation of artists in the 1960s New York scene, including Ellen Stewart, John Vaccaro, Ruby Lynn Reyner, Jackie Curtis, Andy Warhol, Tom Eyen, Jack Smith, and Penny Arcade.
Matching an original approach to historical materials and theoretical reflection, Palladini addresses the peculiar forms of production, reproduction, and consumption developed in the 1960s as labors of love, creating for artists a condition of “preliminarity” toward professional work and also functioning as a counterforce within productive economy, as a prelude where value is not yet assigned to labor.
The Scene of Foreplay proposes that such labors of love can be considered both as paradigmatic for contemporary forms of precarious labor and also resonating with echoes from marginal histories of the performing arts, in a nonlinear genealogy of queer resistance to ideas of capitalist productivity and professionalism. The book offers much for those interested in performance theory as well asin the history of theater and performance arts in the 1960s.
Speaking in Tongues presents a unique account of how language has been employed in the theatre, not simply as a means of communication but also as a stylistic and formal device, and for a number of cultural and political operations. The use of multiple languages in the contemporary theatre is in part a reflection of a more globalized culture, but it also calls attention to how the mixing of language has always been an important part of the functioning of theatre.
The book begins by investigating various "levels" of language-high and low style, prose and poetry-and the ways in which these have been used historically to mark social positions and relationships. It next considers some of the political and historical implications of dialogue theatre, as well as theatre that literally employs several languages, from classical Greek examples to the postmodern era. Carlson treats with special attention the theatre of the postcolonial world, and especially the triangulation of the local language, the national language, and the colonial language, drawing on examples of theatre in the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Finally, Carlson considers the layering of languages in the theatre, such as the use of supertitles or simultaneous signing.
Speaking in Tongues draws important social and political conclusions about the role of language in cultural power, making a vital contribution to the fields of theatre and performance.
Marvin Carlson is Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre and Comparative Literature, CUNY Graduate Center. He is author of Performance: A Critical Introduction; Theories of the Theatre: A Historical and Critical Survey, from the Greeks to the Present; and The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine, among many other books.
Theatre in Eastern and Central Europe was never the same after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In the transition to a postcommunist world, “alternative theatre” found ways to grapple with political chaos, corruption, and aggressive implementation of a market economy. Three decades later, this volume is the first comprehensive examination of alternative theatre in ten former communist countries. The essays focus on companies and artists that radically changed the language and organization of theatre in the countries formerly known as the Eastern European bloc. This collection investigates the ways in which postcommunist alternative theatre negotiated and embodied change not only locally but globally as well.
Contributors: Dennis Barnett, Dennis C. Beck, Violeta Decheva, Luule Epner, John Freedman, Barry Freeman, Margarita Kompelmakher, Jaak Rahesoo, Angelina Ros¸ca, Ban¸uta Rubess, Christopher Silsby, Andrea Tompa, S. E. Wilmer
Staging Process examines contemporary collective creation practices, with particular focus on the work of four third wave American performance ensembles: Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and the TEAM. The book examines ways in which these groups create blueprints for developing collaborative performance, entwining methodology with emerging performance aesthetics.
Rachel Anderson-Rabern explores the ideas of boredom and quotidian employment that permeate particular performance projects. Using Henri Lefebvre’s concepts of work roles within everyday philosophy, she demonstrates that collective creation gives rise to new economies of performance. The book also presents theories of the political stakes of danced gestural forms in performance, informed by Giorgio Agamben’s writings on gesture, and elaborates the ways in which these ensembles make use of durational performance to posit ethical frameworks: ways of living in the world.
Conversing with the ideas of Paul Virilio and Guy Debord among others, Anderson- Rabern claims that these groups posit new models of aesthetic politics through careful, speed-based investigations of construction and destruction that unearth the powerful potential of contemporary collaborative methods to be at once aesthetically minded, ethically driven, and politically engaged.
As critic for the Soho Weekly News and the Village Voice during the 1970s and 1980s, Sally Banes enjoyed an incomparable perspective on the development of what she describes as "the mongrel, elusive, indefinable genre of performance art." In fact, Banes was present during a crucial point in that development, when a previously marginalized form took, quite literally, center stage and emerged as the preeminent form of avant-garde activity.
Her reviews and articles explore the work of established artists such as Meredith Monk, Robert Wilson, Ping Chong, and Joan Jonas; events by the Bread and Puppet Theater, Robert Whitman, Charlotte Moorman, and Chris Burden; revivals of classic avant-garde performances; and the emergence of famous (and some notorious) performers such as Anne Bogart, Karen Finley, Spalding Gray, Steve Buscemi, Tim Miller, and Whoopi Goldberg. The depth and breadth of Banes's criticism realizes not only the continuing growth and development of American performance, but also the complex and sometimes surprising intersection of performance with the "other side" of the art/life divide, the "paratheater" of Japanese tea ceremonies, cat shows, circuses, art exhibits, and amateur nights at the Apollo.
Banes's work recognizes the crucial importance of the critic as a situated self that must understand not only the concepts and techniques of avant-garde art, but the rich textures of the community spaces in which that art occurs. Much as her earlier book Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body captured the elusive artistic communities of America's postwar avant-garde activity, Subversive Expectations revels in the invigorating energies of Soho.
The author's approach to this complex matrix of art, community, and culture is as interdisciplinary as performance itself, drawing on the histories and theories of painting, photography, dance, theater, and folklore. Her vivid descriptions of ephemeral events and her provocative interpretations fill a gap in the history of contemporary performance, when the avant-garde met the mainstream.
Sally Banes is Marian Hannah Winter Professor of Theatre and Dance History, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Theatermachine: Tadeusz Kantor in Context is an in-depth, multidisciplinary compendium of essays that examine Kantor’s work through the prism of postmemory and trauma theory and in relation to Polish literature, Jewish culture, and Yiddish theater as well as the Japanese, German, French, Polish, and American avant-garde. Hans-Thies Lehmann’s theory of postdramatic theater and contemporary developments in critical theory—particularly Bill Brown’s thing theory, Bruno Latour’s actor network theory, and posthumanism—provide a previously unavailable vocabulary for discussion of Kantor’s theater.
Theaters of Citizenship investigates independent Egyptian performance practices from 2004 to 2014 to demonstrate how young dramatists staged new narratives of citizenship outside of state institutions, exploring rights claims and enacting generational identity. Using historiography, ethnography, and performance analysis, the book traces this avant-garde from the theater networks of the late Hosni Mubarak era to productions following the Egyptian revolution of 2011.
In 2004, independent cultural institutions were sites for more democratic forms of youth organization and cultural participation than were Egyptian state theaters. Sonali Pahwa looks at identity formation within this infrastructure for new cultural production: festivals, independent troupes, workshops, and manifesto movements. Bringing institutional changes in dialogue with new performance styles on stages and streets, Pahwa conceptualizes performance culture as a school of citizenship. Independent theater incubated hope in times of despair and pointed to different futures for the nation’s youth than those seen in television and newspapers. Young dramatists countered their generation’s marginalization in the neoliberal economy, media, and political institutions as they performed alternative visions for the nation. An important contribution to the fields of anthropology and performance studies, Pahwa’s analysis will also interest students of sociology and Egyptian history.
A certain idea of the avant-garde posits the possibility of a total rupture with the past. The Unfinished Art of Theater pulls back on this futuristic impulse by showing how theater became a key site for artists on the semiperiphery of capitalism to reconfigure the role of the aesthetic between 1917 and 1934. The book argues that this “unfinished art”—precisely because of its historic weakness as a representative institution in Mexico and Brazil, where the bourgeois stage had not (yet) coalesced—was at the forefront of struggles to redefine the relationship between art and social change.
Drawing on extensive archival research, Sarah J. Townsend reveals the importance of projects and texts that belie the rhetoric of rupture and immediacy associated with the avant-garde: ethnographic operas with ties to the recording industry, populist puppet plays, children’s radio programs about the wonders of technology, a philosophical drama about the birth of a new race, and an antifascist spectacle written for (but never performed at) a theater shut down by the police. Ultimately, the book makes the case that the very category of avant-garde art is bound up in the experience of dependency, delay, and the uneven development of capitalism.
Digital culture has occasioned a seismic shift in the discourse around contagion, transmission, and viral circulation. Yet theater, in the cultural imagination, has always been contagious. Viral Performance proposes the concept of the viral as an essential means of understanding socially engaged and transmedial performance practices since the mid-twentieth century. Its chapters rethink the Living Theatre’s Artaudian revolution through the lens of affect theory, bring fresh attention to General Idea’s media-savvy performances of the 1970s, explore the digital-age provocations of Franco and Eva Mattes and Critical Art Ensemble, and survey the dramaturgies and political stakes of global theatrical networks.
Viral performance practices testify to the age-old—and ever renewed—instinct that when people gather, something spreads. Performance, an art form requiring and relying on live contact, renders such spreading visible, raises its stakes, and encodes it in theatrical form. The artists explored here rarely disseminate their ideas or gestures as directly as a viral marketer or a political movement would; rather, they undermine simplified forms of contagion while holding dialogue with the philosophical and popular discourses, old and new, that have surrounded viral culture.
Viral Performance argues that the concept of the viral is historically deeper than immediate associations with the contemporary digital landscape might suggest, and far more intimately linked to live performance