The essay interrogates how the theatre is used to affirm and to problematize the construction of historical narrative and political discourse, specifically the creation of public assembly, counter- narrative and artistic activism. Through the performance of the Filipino play Nana Rosa, it is argued that the theatre has a potential to transform personal testimonies into a radical assembly by invoking a community, whose members possess a social responsibility to recognize the precarity of each other. It also inquires the necessity of inserting scenarios in the play even if these are not officially recognized as official historical encounters. The insertion is proposed to be an artistic mode of countering the dominant narrative (i.e. Japan’s denial of the sexual abuses during the Pacific War). Finally, it investigates the relationship of the play and the local theatre genre drama simbolico, a subversive and highly political Philippine melodrama during the early 20th century. Looking at the costumes, the play is a political demonstration, protesting colonial experience and oppressive narrative. In the end, through the transformation of the assembly, the creation of the counter-narrative and the subtle revival of the drama simbolico, Nana Rosa is asserted as an example of artistic activism, featuring resistances and subversions.
Born in Belarus, grown up in Israeli, based in France, Arkadi Zaides is an independent performer and choreographer. Together with artists, thinkers, and human-rights activists and combining theoretical research, creativity and activism on field, Zaides has been working for a long time on the role of political and social contexts in affecting bodies, gesture and movements and in producing, maintaining, legitimizing, representing, and aestheticizing structural violence. As of late, Zaides is specifically interested in the notion of the border, which he explores both literally (focusing on specific geographical border areas, and identifying a particular choreography that emerges in these spaces) and artistically (exposing different types of discourse and apparatus at work in relation to the figure of the migrant). Starting from the introduction of the Arkadi Zaides chorographical and political idea, that are densely intertwined, the paper will take into account the passage from Archive (2014) to Talos (2017) to Necropolis (2021), from the “re-enacting” performative action to the “pre-enacting” political fabulation: the viewpoint enlightens specifically the relation between the idea of the situated subject, the bodies, the borders and the implications of the technological infrastructure.
This essay takes racism and race relations as a central theme, with a focus on Amiri Baraka’s “Dutchman.” In recognizing Amiri Baraka’s celebrated One-Act Play, “Dutchman” as, not a tragedy as normally conceived, but as a sacrifice ritual, this essay breaks dividing lines in dramatic genres by recognizing Artaudian Cruelty in the incitement of emotions associated with the Protest Play against the traditional model of the “purging” of emotions of pity and fear associated with Tragedy. This essay employs Deconstruction via Jacques Derrida and his interpretation of the pharmakon, as well as the analysis of René Girard, to find the double meaning of catharsis: that the ancient Greek pharmakos (sacrificial victim) is intimately related to the term for the ritual of extracting emotions via a ritual, katharma, or catharsis. Finally, against the backdrop of these arguments, including those of Maurice O. Wallace, this essay re-examines W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk and its concept of “double consciousness” using a psychoanalytical lens via Eugene Victor Wolfenstein and Jacques Lacan, mapped onto theories of Performance via Herbert Blau to analyze the spectragraphic and solipsistic blindness of racism that DuBois and Baraka’s work describes and confronts.
The aim of this paper is to show the merits and limits of the model of political theatre that the ntS’ (Nuovo Teatro Sanità) has produced. In particular, since its foundation, the ntS’ has produced a series of political actions, inside and outside the institutions, with the aim of building a community around the theatre as a physical, social and symbolic place. This is the direction taken by the workshops with the young people of the neighbourhood that gave rise to the theatre’s permanent company, the results of which have produced important shows such as La paranza dei bambini written by Roberto Saviano and Mario Gelardi. The principle of the workshops is to produce political action through contact and contagion. Where the neighbourhood has always represented a sort of closed, self-sufficient space, the workshops tend to expand the community produced within the theatre to infect other parts of the city. In fact, young people are called to gain experience in other city theatres to continue their training in institutions such as the Bellini Theatre Academy or the Marcadante Theatre. The ntS’ builds its political action in schools by setting up workshops to focus on the particular characteristics of the area (the neighbourhood is characterised on the one hand by a strong socio-economic hardship linked to high school drop-out rates and unemployment, and on the other by strong ferment of social and cultural rebirth and redemption. The political action of the ntS’ starts from the focus of the theatre as a physical place of political resistance (emblematic from this point of view is the project La peste al rione Sanità, performance based on The Plague by Camus, developed before the pandemic and staged after the first lockdown in March 2020 of the church of S. Maria della Sanità for all the inhabitants of the district) to open up to the places of the district and build a political action for contagion and expansion.
In recent years, cultural festivals have been enjoying great success: hundreds of cultural festivals are held every year all over Italy and Europe, some of them with an attendance of 100.000 or more. Moreover, there is a widespread consensus on the importance of cultural events for place marketing and economic development purposes, but also to encourage cultural engagement and social cohesion, often borrowing approaches and techniques from performing arts and performing arts festivals. BookCity Milano is a literary festival that in its 2021 edition scheduled more than 1400 events in more than 260 venues in 4 days. It is a participatory project, involving publishers, bookstores, libraries, museums, theatres, cultural associations, and cultural foundations, schools and universities, hospitals, prisons, but also private venues (shops, restaurants, hotels...). But what is the impact of an event like BookCity Milano? Any project must have a process of evaluation, and self evaluation. But what methods or indexes can be used to evaluate a participatory project like BookCity? Apart from econometric indexes, we need an approach focused on the features and the goals of the project.
The tubong is a complex form of creative expression in Marinduque, Philippines. The practice of the ritual is almost quotidian as the locals have made it the main act of their significant social gatherings. The essay interrogates the development of the tubong as a cultural performance based on various shifts and turns. The essay is historical, but the focus and aim is to point out the politics of intervention in the practices and its continuous reinventions. As the tubong developed from a ritual of healing, to its welcoming and entertainment function, including the formation of Junior Putong and the creation of millennial putong, the essay focuses on traditionalization or the creative strategies of individuals, small groups, and institutions in Marinduque. In the final analysis, I argue that millennialization of tubong is a progressive turn, and should be enacted with criticality. This means that the putong repertoire’s meaning, cultural values, and societal functions should remain or persist, even though the embodiment differs or changes across time and generations. Networks of power and political interveners as cultural agents will always be present because of the primary reason to keep and continue the practice of tubong tradition, at different times and in varying contexts.
In March 2020, people were confined inside their homes, and wild animals regained urban spaces. But the insufficient problematization of the paradox, made these images “unthinkable”. In this delicate historical moment the human/non-human relationship seems to need a supplement of reflection. The author deals with the fruitful intertwining between Performance Studies and Animal Studies, defining it ‒ in accordance with Laura Cull – “Animal Performance Studies”. In this context, the performative dimension can be particularly fruitful for Animal Studies, defined as It is by some characteristics: embodiment, presence, process, event ‒ shared with non-humans; it can be a terrain for exploring new relational modes between different species capable of going beyond the reductive, logocentric definition of language that would exclude other species from the start. The choices of reference for theories and practices ‒ Haraway, Chaudhuri and Cuscunà ‒ combine transfeminist and antispecist theoretical reflection, performance and political activism. The performative project of Marta Cuscunà ‒ Earthbound ‒ is analyzed in the last part of this writing and becomes a concrete example of the ‘theater of species’ suggested by Una Chaudhuri.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, theatre collectives have been making a massive comeback on European stages. By taking up certain central concepts and rejecting others, today’s collectives are inscribing themselves in the historical legacy of the political theatre of the 1960s/70s. For their part, the collectives of the 1960/70s were linked to the conceptions of the proletarian theatre of the early 20th century in a nostalgic relationship. Contemporary theatre collectives show a distancing from a revolutionary theatre as imagined by Brecht or Piscator – without abandoning the utopia of a theatre with an impact on the social order. Their aesthetic practices manifest a half-ironic, half-nostalgic view of political theatre. This nostalg-ironic approach is above all a new way of looking at politics and, consequently, political theatre. Two paradigmatic productions will be used to show in which way the theatre collectives of the 1960s/70s and those of the early 21st century situate themselves in relation to the legacy of the political theatre of the Weimar era. They contour the understanding of politics that underlies the collective theatre work in the respective epochs.
A stagnation in the relationship between theatre and politics, now partly attributed to the pandemic rupture, was already diagnosed a few decades ago. What was wrong with theatre and politics before the pandemic and what has gone wrong during the pandemic? In the article, it is argued that the departure of postdramatic theatre from drama and its appropriation of some of the characteristics of the 60s/70s political performance bears important responsibility. The key notion of ‘virtuality’, not as a property of the iconic digital but of the ‘virtual’ as ‘potential’ is introduced. Fictional possible worlds of drama are contemplated as offering multiple layers of virtuality by addressing and cultivating unique cognitive mechanisms which tend to be neglected or completely absent in postdramatic theatre. This tendency is said to endanger the political dimension of theatre performance. Furthermore, the massive online production of performances during the pandemic is discussed, in tune with some of the challenges emerging, such as political correctness.
At the heart of Sisto Dalla Palma’s work and reflections lay the identification of the virtuous, participatory, liberating and transformative circle between performing arts, power and people. According to Dalla Palma, the Renaissance invention of modern theatre as a theatre belonging to the prince resulted in the enslavement of the people, who was cut off from political life, no more a protagonist but a mere spectator to be entertained. The alliance between artist and prince was based on a form of theatre that was closed, text-centric, perspective, frontal, ideal, removed from the people and real life. It was a top-down model of theatre, conceived as instrumentum regni, which could be well summed up in the motto “Everything for the people, nothing by the people”. As such, it was handed down, with the added Enlightened flavour of being a form of education for the people, from ancien régimes to modern democracies, becoming a system for the organisation of consensus. There are three main areas Dalla Palma addressed to relaunch the virtuous circle of participatory theatre and to challenge the vicious circles of the entertainment society. First of all, an opening to all the dramaturgies and innovative and experimental artistic languages, where action prevailed over vision. Secondly, following in the footsteps of Richard Schechner and Victor Turner, great attention to rituals, festivals and dramatic liturgies of various times and cultures, considered as models of popular Dionysian. The third area addressed by Dalla Palma was that of the social and community theatre, a performative workshop for the self-creation of individuals, groups and cities. According to him, it is only by releasing the creative energies of the performing arts into the worlds of real relationships that the horizons, powers and democratic potential of the theatre can be opened up.
Since the 1980s, a growing interest has been observed around the notion of trauma as a theme of study, which begun to have a considerable impact even within the humanities, giving rise to an intense theoretical debate including multiple disciplines. The historical development of trauma theory, however, is not linear or chronological but complex and multidimensional. Even if many significant texts have focused on events that took place in Europe or the United States – basically the Holocaust and 9/11 – concerning testimony, literature, and history, gradually scholars started addressing sufferings of those belonging to non-Western or minority. The aim of this essay is to retrace the rise of trauma theory within its academic contexts, highlighting some initial limitations and problematic implications to a current redirection, which consists in a significant step ahead towards rethinking trauma as collective, spatial and material through a more global and inclusive.
During the 2018 Italian election campaign one of the main political battlefields was the issue of immigration. Within this issue a relevant part of the public and political debate focused on the so-called ‘Macerata’s events’: the killing of a minor by an immigrant of Nigerian origin and the subsequent vindictive shooting carried out by a far-right political militant. In the following days, an anti-racist demonstration in solidarity with the victims of the shooting was organized by a vast network of NGO and social movements. Although more than 20,000 people took part at this manifestation, the chronicle of the counter-event was characterized by a dubious rumour regarding a slogan singed against the foibe’s victims. Through a research design that uses as data the digital traces of information sites and Twitter posts we studied the generative and dissemination processes of this ‘junk news’, showing how fake accounts and coordinated behaviour strategies helped the rumour go viral. In the highly polarized context that characterizes democratic societies, the case of the junk news about the foibe slogan shows how media manipulation techniques can use to their advantage the ‘hit economy’ system that forces journalism to constantly chase the latest scoop.
In American silent cinema there are often sociologists (or individuals who, as amateurs, are interested in sociology). The article is an analysis of a corpus of 26 silent films featuring sociologists. The source on which the research is based are the synopses published in the film magazines of the time (in particular Moving Picture World). The presence of sociologists is concentrated in a particular way in the years between 1913 and 1919 (while in the following years there is a sudden decline). In line with the prevailing image of American sociology of the period, in the films considered, sociologists are identified above all with social reformers and philanthropists, moved primarily by the goal of improving the lives of workers and the poor and the redemption of prisoners. However, there are also some simplistic representations of sociologists driven by mainly theoretical interests and intent on conducting ‘social experiments’. In addition to providing useful elements to understand the perception that surrounded American sociology in the early decades of the twentieth century, the article sheds light on a group of little-known but symptomatic films.