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Community

Mackey, Sally Community. Performance Research, 11 (3). pp. 1-60. ISSN 1352-8165

Abstract

"Where once the polis inaugurated a political theatre, with its agora and its forum, now there is only a cathode-ray screen, where the shadows and spectres of a community dance amid their processes of disappearance..." (Virilio, 1991: 19)

Paul Virilio engages consistently with the military-industrial complex of the modern technologic city and the dangers of the resulting ‘abandoned real’. In Lost Dimension (1991), he points to the growing lack of ‘plenum’, space that should be filled with (human) matter and substance. Plenum, he suggests, has been abandoned for ‘an electronic topology’, erasing face to face encounter. Virilio’s prediction of the demise of communities posited on live presence is not unique. Indeed, Williams’ community, a ‘warmly persuasive word to describe an existing set of relationships’ (1976: 76), with its implication of physical locus, has been challenged, jostled and nearly thrown out with the bath water in the thirty years since Keywords.

As a performance and applied theatre academic, community is a provocative and testing centrepiece of life. In this brief opportunity to let it tug and chafe some more, I will suggest, in Part 1, some shifts that have contrived to destabilise prior readings of ‘community’ turning it into an insecure and unreliable concept in our area and, in Part 2, ask how such destabilisation might have ramifications for a performance praxis.

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