Performance and Philosophy
Berlin 23rd-24th April 2010
An international symposium hosted by SFB „Performing Cultures", Freie Universität Berlin in collaboration with the Performance Studies International PSi Performance and Philosophy working group. The theatrical metaphor has a long tradition within Western philosophy. As Aldo Tassi has written, Œuntil four hundred years ago, the theatrum mundi metaphor was the dominant image in Western thinking. God was conceived on the analogy of a playwright who had created the script of the play that was being performed on the stage called the world‚ (Tassi 1998: n.p.). At the same time, as Jonas Barish and Martin Puchner have discussed, there is a long tradition of anti-theatricality within philosophy, exemplified by figures such as St Augustine and Rousseau. But beyond metaphor and prejudice, there has also been what Puchner has called a Œtheatrical turn‚ in philosophy, starting in the later nineteenth century when figures such as Nietzsche and Kierkegaard magnetised toward theatricality in the context of a broader assault on the notion of truth (Puchner 2002: 521). As Timothy Murray‚s volume shows, theatrical philosophy would then continue to flourish in twentieth century French thought, in the work of Lyotard, Cixous, Kristeva, and Deleuze, amongst others. For Deleuze, for example, Œthe theatre, here, is not simply a metaphor or a communicative device, but lies at the heart of Deleuze‚s project, determining its terms, constructions, and arguments‚ (ibid.).
If there has been a theatrical turn in philosophy, we can also say that there has been a philosophical turn‚ in theatre and performance. With figures like Artaud and Stanislavski, we can see that the theatre of the last hundred years has increasingly conceived itself in metaphysical terms. For these practitioners, the world is not merely Œlike‚ theatre and performance; rather, performance actually performs metaphysics or ontology. Of course the nature of this ontology has been multiply understood. For Tassi, for example, theatrical performance is an enactment of Œ„the performance of being‰ which is taking place in nature‚; subjects and events in the world, as well as on stage, are brought to presence or Œcome to be‚ through performance (Tassi 1998: n.p.). Correlatively, scholars in recent Performance Studies have moved beyond the conception of philosophy as simply one more methodology that might be applied to the analysis of performance. Rather, performance and philosophy - or performing and philosophizing - are seen as inextricably linked.
The symposium „Performance and Philosophy‰ will be the final conference of the philosophy project (B9) at SFB „Performing Cultures‰ and the 2nd inter-conference meeting of the PSi the 2nd inter-conference meeting of the PSi Performance and Philosophy working group, following on from the success of Making and Thinking: Performance and Philosophy as Participation held at Aberystwyth University in January 2009. The growth of the PSi Performance and Philosophy Working Group, which now has over one hundred members, is only one demonstration of the increasing importance of Philosophy for Performance Studies and the growth of ŒPerformance and Philosophy‚ as a distinct sub-field within Theatre and Performance Studies. This symposium seeks to outline the parameters of this sub-field by bringing together some of the key thinkers who have already done significant work to analyse the relation between performance and philosophy. The symposium also wishes to celebrate and respond to the publication of two new works of central importance to this area: Martin Puchner‚s The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy and Freddie Rokem‚s Philosophers and Thespians: Thinking Performance.
Laura Cull (Northumbria University, UK); Erika Fischer-Lichte (Freie Universität Berlin); Eva-Maria Gauss (Halle); Paul A. Kottman (New School, New York); Sybille Krämer (Freie Universität Berlin); Alice Lagaay (Freie Universität Berlin); Martin Puchner (New York); Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University)
Concept & organisation:
Alice Lagaay, SFB „Performing Cultures‰, Freie Universität Berlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Cull, Chair of the PSi Performance and Philosophy working group, Lecturer in
Performing Arts (Northumbria University, UK) email@example.com
Freddie Rokem, Professor of Theatre Arts, Tel Aviv University