THE SCENE OF PERFORMANCE?
A Lecture-Workshop by Esa Kirkkopelto, University of the Arts Helsinki
This lecture workshop studies what a ‘performative element’ is like and how each one of us can become such an element.
The event consists of three parts: an argument, a practical workshop and a discussion.
In my argument (10 min), I will return to the debate between Performance Studies and Theatre Studies and ask its philosophical bearing. In which sense can ‘performance’ be conceived as a philosophical concept today? I will first suggest a short deconstructive reading of Patrice Pavis´s recent book Mise en scène contemporaine (2012) and indicate in which way a performance may still constitute a blind spot in the semiology-based Theatre Studies. In order to shed more light on that spot, I will shortly refer to the debate William B. Worthen launched in 1995 with Performance Studies (epitomized here by Richard Schechner, Joseph Roach, Jill Dolan and Phillip Zarrilli). It concerns the disciplinary affinity and rivalry between PS and TS. At closer look, that debate can be read as strictly philosophical one, regarding the meaning, function and scope of textuality (Barthes, Derrida), that both disciplinary fields lean on in different ways. If this reading is just, i.e. if we can presume that all performativity carries an unavoidable textual and thereby theatricalreminder (Weber), then it makes sense to ask the point of intersection of the two disciplinary fields by removing it on the field of textuality. This is a tempting possibility, but it presumes that 1) that our whole understanding of textuality is not restricted to merely theoretical / discursive / literary /academic practices, but that it also reaches the level of material conditions and constituents parts of performing; 2) that our experience, both as performers and spectators / participants, is able to reach that level as well!
In the mini-workshop which follows (20 min), we try to reach that level together, or raise ourselves onto it, through series of simple collective exercises, a set of practical suggestions, which focus on corporality and language. What happens when our bodies turn into performative elements? What can these elements do? What can we do with them? How does the observation of these elements change our given understanding of language and corporality? Some of the exercises are accomplished together, some of them I will demonstrate on my own. All participation is voluntary. No previous skills are required.
The event ends up with a discussion (10 min).
Esa Kirkkopelto (born in 1965) is philosopher, artist-researcher, performer, former theatre director and playwright, convener of Other Spaces live art collective. Since 2007, he has been working at the Theatre Academy (University of Arts Helsinki) as Professor of artistic research. His research focuses on the deconstruction of the performing body both in theory and in practice. Since 2008, he has conducted a collective research project “Actor´s Art in Modern Times” on the psychophysical actor training. He is the responsible leader of the “Doctoral Programme of Artistic Research” (Theatre Academy, Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy & Aalto University), as well as “Asian Art and Performance Consortium” (Theatre Academy Helsinki & Academy of Fine Arts). He has made his PhD on philosophy in 2002 at the University of Strasbourg. Author of Le théâtre de l´expérience. Contributions à la théorie de la scène (Presses de l´Université Paris-Sorbonne 2008). He is a core-convener of Performance Philosophy Association, a member of the editorial board of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and the convener of the “International Platform for Performer Training” which gathered for the first time in Helsinki in January 2014. During the spring 2014, he worked as a Fulbright senior scholar at the Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins University.
Duration: 40 min