Theatre in the Forest of Things and Signs

White, Gareth (2016) Theatre in the Forest of Things and Signs. Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, 4 (1). pp. 21-33. ISSN 2195-0156


This article uses the experience of a piece of immersive theatre (Coney’s Early Days of a Better Nation) to inform a discussion of spectatorship in works that demand performances from audience members. It asks how we value spectatorship where the spectator-participant and their actions are placed at the centre of the performance. Initially proposing that a model of body-based intersubjectivity is appropriate to understand how meaning arises in these performances, it goes on to examine how the challenge to participatory performance that is given in Jacques Rancière’s ‘The Emancipated Spectator’ can be used to discuss the value of participation. Rancière’s contention that reforms of audience-performer relationship are ‘stultifying’ rather than emancipatory is read as a kind of negative intersubjectivity. The importance of the independent will to the process of subjectivation is seen as key to an emancipatory participatory spectatorship.


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