Two Aberystwyths

Mackey, Sally (2012) Two Aberystwyths. In: PSI Conference, 27th June 2012, University of Leeds. (Unpublished)


Connected communities? relational performances and cultural (in)articulations
Gerry Harris (UK)/Sally Mackey (UK)/Jane Milling (UK)/Roberta Mock (UK)
This discursive panel considers the potentials of conceptualising community as and through performance activity and paradigms. As Shannon Jackson has recently noted “a widened discourse of performance” may help us ‘to understand the stakes and limits’ of socio-political debates and practices, “especially when we foreground performance as a site of group coordination in space and over time” (2011). In this session, we will draw upon diverse examples of such sited debates and practices, including the effect of pre-WWI pierrot troupes on the construction of English coastal communities; Oldham Theatre Workshop’s current project with new refugee families; the 1972 amateur production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Windsor Jewish Community Centre; and the female dominated audiences of commercial touring shows such as Dave Simpsons Naked Truth. By bringing together the research discourses of applied theatre, performance studies, and theatre historiography, thus employing performance as both an object of study and a model of enquiry, we aim to frame and analyse events, actions and behaviours as performative acts of communication and communal meaning-making. In doing so, we remain aware of models that problematize assumptions of community/performance as necessarily “positive” or “resistant”. Jean-Luc Nancy’s “inoperable community” (1982), for instance, rejects notions of being together in common, thus drawing attention to the limits of community. And, as Jon Mckenzie noted in Perform or Else (2001), performances can be equally effective in regulating and expressing social normalisation and reactionary impulses. In examining a range of communities that have expressed and manifested their senses of identity across a variety of performance registers (including aesthetic, popular, cultural and social forms of performance), we will locate the nature and articulation of community (perhaps problematically) in processes of re-enactment, cultural memory, emplacement, transmission and legibility. We will ask all participants to engage in a timed writing exercise and will together reflect upon not just what communities might do but how they might operate.


Presentation at Leeds University - PDF

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