Our next London Theatre Seminar (and the final one for 2017) will take place on 7 December 2017 in Senate House (Room TBC). We are pleased to welcome Dr Caoimhe Mader McGuinness of Kingston University.
As usual, start time is 6:30 PM. The seminar will close at 8:30, to reconvene in a local pub. Wine and refreshments will be served.
We hope to see you there!
Broderick, Louise, and Bryce
Intempentestive dissensus: reproducing possible proletarian public spheres in You Should See the Other Guy’s Land of the Three Towers
This paper will analyse You Should See the Other Guys performance Land of the Three Towers, a show devised by and with members of the Focus E15 campaign narrating the campaign’s activists’ successful occupation of the Carpenters estate in Newham, East London. The women-led Focus E15 campaign occupied these empty flats in October 2014, angered by the fact that Newham council was refusing to house residents locally whilst letting the estate’s flats decay while waiting for the highest bidder. This proved a successful strategy, as the women obtained many concessions to their demands, including the rehousing of certain families on the estate. Land of the Three Towers’ restages the occupation and subsequent victory, also occasionally deploying the performance as an organising tool. This choice, as well as the use of song, audience participation and site specificity created a piece of work which expanded beyond agit-prop or community theatre, offering a certain amount of self-reflexivity about its own constitution.
As I will argue, certain staging choices in the performance demonstrated not only how certain aspects of the campaign had manifested a form of Rancièrian dissensus but also how the performance might gesture toward an expansive understanding of collectice experience and its representation. Here, the work of Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge on the possibilities of a proletarian public sphere offers a productive addition to Jacques Rancière’s arguments around dissensus as the essence of politics. Furthermore, the ways in which both the campaign and its representation in Land of the Three Towers centred on questions of social reproduction – motherhood and childrearing but also cleaning cooking and domestic labour – might also further contribute to an understanding of Rancièrian dissensus grounded in explicit material concerns. I will thus consider how theorisations of the relationship between work, social reproduction and primitive accumulation articulated by Silvia Federici, joined with considerations surrounding artistic labour offered by Dave Beech, might also further the dissensual potential of the performance.
Caoimhe Mader McGuinness is a lecturer in Drama at Kingston University of London. Her research and publications look at the politics of reception (spectatorship, criticism and institutional identities) of contemporary theatre and live art through a Marxist, feminist, queer and post-colonial lens. She also more broadly focuses on the specific histories of Western liberalism as these apply to theatrical production and reception.
Further interests are social reproduction in feminist performance, the 1951 Festival of Britain and Marxist approaches to theatre and performance, especially in the work of the Frankfurt School and Jacques Rancière.