Laura Cull and Karoline Gritzner, 7 May 2013

London Theatre Seminar

Tuesday, 7 May 2013 (note change from our normal Thursday slot), 6.30-8.30pm

Room 264, Senate House

Following the launch of the Performance Philosophy network ( and a very successful inaugural conference held at University of Surrey a few weeks ago, we are pleased to host a special panel on Performance Philosophy with Laura Cull (Surrey) and Karoline Gritzner (Aberystwyth).

Laura Cull, “Performance Philosophy: The ‘Mind the Gap’ and/or ‘Performance as Philosophy’ debate”

In this presentation, having narrated something of the emergence and development of the field of Performance Philosophy (and the professional association that seeks to cultivate it), I would like to focus on two related debates at the core of discussions in the area. Amongst the many themes that concerns this new field is what I have described elsewhere as ‘the problem of application’ or illustration – a theme that we share with the sister discipline of Film Philosophy. That is, a fundamental question of the area remains the nature of philosophy’s engagement with its ‘objects’ and to what extent we might challenge the conventional hierarchical relationship between philosophy and performance, broadly construed, in which performance is (ab)used as mere illustration for an existing philosophy rather than as a source of philosophical insight in itself.

Secondly, I will continue to address some of the divergent views concerning the nature of the relationship between performance and philosophy by focusing on what we might call the ‘Mind the Gap’ and/or ‘Performance as Philosophy’ debate. In his provocative keynote at the inaugural Performance Philosophy conference, specifically addressing the context of ‘theatre’, Martin Puchner (2013) argued: “What makes the study of theater and philosophy interesting, even thrilling, is the very fact that they two are so utterly and irreconcilable different, that they are institutions of a very different ilk that cannot be even brought close to each other. It is the and that makes all the difference, it is the gap between theater and philosophy that makes the study of their relation interesting and even possible in the first place. The study of theater and philosophy must take its point of departure from this gap and this gap must remain at the forefront of all successful undertakings in this direction”. Responding to Puchner, and others, I will also explore the alternative view that articulations of ‘philosophy as performance’ and ‘performance as philosophy’ need not be homogenizing or reductive claims that ignore the differences between specific practices; rather, the ‘as’ (in exchange for the ‘and’) signals an opening to reciprocal (in)determination or mutual transformation, as well as questioning the attribution of differences based on conventional disciplinary lines alone.

Laura Cull is Senior Lecturer in Theatre Studies and Director of Postgraduate Research for the School of Arts at the University of Surrey, UK. She is author of the book, Theatres of Immanence: Deleuze and the Ethics of Performance (Palgrave, 2012) and editor of Deleuze and Performance (Edinburgh University Press, 2009). Laura is Secretary of Performance Studies international (PSi) and in 2008 she founded the PSi Performance & Philosophy working group of which she was Chair from 2008-2012. She is now one of the founding conveners of Performance Philosophy – a professional association for researchers interested in the intersection of performance and philosophy.

Karoline Gritzner, “Notes on Movement: what happens between the steps?”

 This paper addresses the concept of movement as a philosophical and aesthetic idea in selected texts by Kierkegaard, Adorno and Irigaray. In The Concept of Dread Kierkegaard proposes that ‘the very concept of movement is a transcendence which can find no place in logic’. Similarly, movement is central to Irigaray’s metaphysics of sexual difference where fluidity poses a challenge to the logic of the (male) symbolic order. Adorno, too, in his revision of Hegelian philosophy, proposes that ‘philosophy is thought in a perpetual state of motion’. Taking as its reference point the performativity of ‘elemental passions’ (Irigaray) in Argentine tango dance, the paper will examine the interrelationship between material motion and critical fluidity.

Karoline Gritzner is a lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies at Aberystwyth University. She has published on modern British and European drama and on the interrelationship between philosophy and theatre. She is the editor of Eroticism and Death in Theatre and Performance (2010) and has co-edited, with Laura Cull, the Performance Research journal issue ‘On Philosophy and Participation’ (2011). She is one of the core convenors of the Performance Philosophy Network.