A Pathognomy of Performance by S. Bayly

By S. Bayly

Exploring the subjects of the development, ephemerality and democracy that mark the stumble upon among functionality and philosophy, this unique research elaborates clean views at the studies of undoing, fiasco and catastrophe that shadow either the either level and lifestyle.

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Today, more than ever, it seems that there is an audience that continues to go to the theatre in the hope of witnessing a performance, rather than a play, and a performance that will, only momentarily, escape the gravity of the logic of representation without succumbing to its spectacular surplus. These opening moments of contemporary theatre seem to function as acts of remembrance, where what is remembered is an ancient possibility that they could indeed herald such a performance. But such an act is rendered as remembrance, as the presence of what can no longer take place here and now, by a sense of the inescapable necessity that the play will have to start, go on and finish: we are in a theatre, there will be acting, pretence, appearance (in a word, representation).

What is it that they are asking us to witness while we wait for what has been promised? 32 A Pathognomy of Performance Such opening moments might best be considered as the inverse of the curtain call, that time-honoured theatrical ritual in which actors and audience supposedly unite in the necessary self-disclosure of illusion. Like the interval, the curtain call does not feature prominently in the theoretical literature of performance: in theatrical practice as well, the curtain-call has been all but eliminated in work that wishes to distance itself from convention.

The actors enter and take their stationary places upon the stage, facing the audience. They are empty-handed, bare of both pretext and context, standing still upon a stage with little or no décor. Under stark white light, they look out to us, neither eyeballing individuals in a persecutory fashion, nor surveying us en masse. They appear neither afraid, nor particularly confident. It seems that something must, as the phrase goes, take place: the show must go on. But there is a reluctance to simply engage with pretence.

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