Adam Alston and Shaun May, 13 December 2012

Our next London Theatre Seminar is 13 December, 6.30pm, in Room 246 (Senate House, second floor).

We are delighted to be hearing exciting new work from postgraduate researchers in the field:

Adam Alston (Royal Holloway, University of London),  ‘Reflections on Intimacy and Narcissism in Ontroerend Goed’s Personal Trilogy’

This paper will look at the functioning of intimate experience in three one-on-one performances by the Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed, grouped together as the Personal Trilogy: The Smile Off Your Face (2003), Internal (2007) and A Game of You (2010). It will be argued that ‘the experience’ is rendered a site of aesthetic engagement in these performances and that this rendering encourages the participant to reflect on the terms of intimate interaction. Some potentially productive discrepancies in these performances will be discussed in addressing the production of experience, such as belief and belief under false pretences, control and being controlled, and a desire for self-fulfilment in relation to its being undermined. These discrepancies will be theorised with reference to Ovid’s myth of Narcissus and Echo and Richard Sennett’s comments on narcissism in The Fall of Public Man, where a provocative model of ‘narcissistic participation’ will be proposed as being relevant to this kind of work. Perhaps the deliberate undermining of intimate experience may open up space to formulate a politics of participation premised not on a balance of power between performer and participant, but, rather, an affective revealing of its unattainability.

Shaun May (Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London), ‘Physical Impairment and Temporal Phenomenology’

In this paper I will argue that there exists an important connection between physical impairment and one’s temporal phenomenology. My case for this position will be worked out in two stages. First, I will attempt to demonstrate, following Havi Carel (Illness, 2008), that physical impairment has the potential to inaugurate a change in one’s temporal phenomenology. In my view, this potential is most clearly seen in comic performances that involve a certain type of humour, what I call ‘temporal incongruity’. Second, I will argue that the entropic nature of our physical bodies – that is, the inevitability of their breakdown –grounds an important aspect our temporal phenomenology. Specifically, what Heidegger calls Dasein’s being as thrown-projection and being-towards-death.  In concluding I will suggest that this could shed an interesting light on the physical impairment and ‘existential anxiety’ found in Beckett’s Endgame.

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