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Notes towards a theatre of assemblages

Notes towards a theatre of assemblages

Bowes, Neil Simon ORCID: 0000-0002-9189-0322 (2019) Notes towards a theatre of assemblages. Performance Research, 24 (4). pp. 28-34. ISSN 1352-8165 (Print), 1469-9990 (Online) (doi:

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The proposed article responds to the possibility of a theatre that aspires to ‘the condition of art’. Here, the ‘condition(s) of art’ reflect Elizabeth Grosz’s interrelation of percept, sensation, affect, developed in her ‘nonaesthetic philosophy of art’ (2008: 1). Seeking to elucidate an ‘art of affect more than representation’ (2005: 3); and a ‘system of dynamized and impacting forces rather than a system of unique images that function under the regime of signs’ (ibid: 3) Grosz redescribes art in terms of cosmological forces an extraction of substance and a giving of form from within the chaos of the universe.

The article follows an affective and ‘materialist’ turn in performance studies, drawing upon a conceptual link from Spinoza and Bergson via Deleuze (1985, 1991) to Butler (2015) Ahmed (2014). The article focuses upon a single performance-installation, ‘we are all made of stars’ (2016—) by johnsmith. Framing the human body as an ‘actant’ (Latour) or ‘agent’ (Bennett) amongst many nonhuman forces, ‘we are all made of stars’ constructs a field of ‘assemblages’ (DeLanda 2016), a point of intersection between Bio and Zoe (Agamben 1998), Geo and Techno (Braidotti and Hlavajova 2018). In Deleuzean terms, the performance-installation is composed of speed and stillness, rest and motion, small and large refrains, enacting vibrations, oscillations, ‘orders, forms, wills—forces’ (Grosz 2008: 5), which ‘directly impact the nervous system and intensifies sensation’ (ibid: 3). The article reconsiders this ‘field of assemblages’ as a theatre — a reflexive and discursive environment where the material conditions of art — percept, sensation and affect — are given form as concept. In its articulation of concept, the performance becomes at once philosophical and theatrical in its dimensions. Through the recovery of sensation, johnsmith’s theatre of assemblages becomes artlike in its speeds and stillnesses, its resonances, refrains, artlike in the revelation of this sentient world.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Performance, Research, Andy Smith johnsmith, Elizabeth Grosz, Manuel DeLanda, Judith Butler, Hannah Arendt
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 01:38

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