Unpeeling Action: Critical Writing, Training and Process

Damian Martin, Diana (2016) Unpeeling Action: Critical Writing, Training and Process. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 7 (2). pp. 195-211. ISSN 1944-3927


For political philosopher Hannah Arendt, action is also that which inserts us into the world, makes possible our public appearance and our political participation. In performance, action is that which invites us in, marks or blurs the boundaries between public and private, theatrical gesture and its spectating. In writing about performance, I am confronted with action two-fold. In the instance in which I encounter it in the live moment, raw and incomplete; and in the textual gesture I extend in return. This paper considers the relationship between critical writing about performance and training practice, through an exploration of action. It draws on Arendt’s philosophy to examine the ways in which action operates in pedagogical approaches to critical writing. It does so by considering the plural modes of action and representation as found in a Jackson Pollock painting inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In this manner a gentle confrontation is staged between the process of critical writing, marked by encounter, resistance, articulation, interpretation and dialogue, my own experience of training critical writers, and the politics of description that shape the critical text. The article considers how this confrontation might offer configurations of encounters with performance, allowing for change and specificity in the training process.


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