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Abstracts (Keynote Speakers)

Barbie in a Meat Dress: Performance and Mediatization in the 21st Century

Twenty years ago, I investigated the ways performers navigated mediatized postmodern culture through the development of highly mobile performance personae that could play multiple roles in a variety of contexts across the cultural flow. I also suggested that this strategy opened a space for cultural resistance, if not critique in the traditional sense.

By definition, mediatization is a historically contingent process since it changes in relation to a mediascape that is perpetually redefined by developments in media technologies and their uses. Two decades ago, I felt comfortable in positing the televisual as defining mediatized culture. This is no longer the case, as the televisual has clearly yielded sway to the digital in all its forms. I seek to understand the implications of this transition for performers navigating this new cultural terrain. I will focus on two currently successful pop music artists, Nikki Minaj and Lady Gaga. Whereas the performers I chose as my original examples, Spalding Gray and Laurie Anderson, each developed a single, largely consistent persona that proved adaptable to different media and cultural contexts, both Minaj and Gaga take the development of multiple personae that morph with astounding velocity.

Philip Auslander is a Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He teaches in the areas of performance studies, media studies, and music. His most recent books are the second edition of Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (Routledge, 2008) and Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music (Michigan, 2006). In addition to his work on performance he writes regularly on the visual arts, including reviews for ArtForum International and other publications and catalog essays for museums and galleries in the US, the UK, and Continental Europe.

“This is the way the world ends, not…” … towards a polis of performing ecology

In the opening decade of the twenty-first century humans faced a rising surplus of historical double binds that threatened no shortage of highly charged political and ethical dilemmas. For example, humanity’s success at performing survival began to outstrip the carrying capacity of Earth. And, of course, such blatant global dramas offer no obvious denouement. When all futures seem to promise only impossible scenarios, such as an end to ‘history’ or even ‘nature’, what kinds of performance paradigm might offer some glimmers of hope? This presentation approaches that prospect paradoxically by attempting to treat it lightly, as if we are always already such stuff as dreams are made on. So it delves into an end to all ethics and the onset of an especially extreme state of political exception for Homo sapiens as the species passes under a rainbow called climate change. For this particular specimen, on the left is a 1970s Hawaiian happening titled H.C.A.W. – Happy Cleaner Air Week – to the right a recent land-based installation known as A Meadow Meander. Between these unlikely materials it aims to conjure up a few random poles of a dynamic dispersal of Earthly doom that goes by the dubious bioethical alias of ‘performing ecology’.

Baz Kershaw is Emeritus Professor at University of Warwick. An engineer before gaining degrees from Manchester, Hawaii and Exeter Universities, he has been keynote at many international conferences and directed PARIP (2000-06), which investigated performance as research. Projects in experimental and radical theatre include shows at the legendary London Drury Lane Arts Lab and with Welfare State International, and since 2000 eco-specific events in southwest UK. His publications include The Politics of Performance (1992), The Radical in Performance (1999) and Theatre Ecology: Environments and Performance Events (2007). In 2010 he set up an Earthrise Repair Shop that offers to mend broken imaginings of Earth.

Political Theatre in Depression Greece

Whether one thinks of crisis in political, financial, environmental, ecological, ethical or other terms, one thing is certain: a crisis is a point when people have to make rapid choices under extreme pressure. And it is historically evident that a nation in crisis most of the times retreats behind national boundaries. Let me remind you of what happened in the three crises of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and then the Wall Street crash. Having Greece’s economic meltdown as my main point of reference, I would like to examine whether this radical experience has, theatrically speaking, triggered equally radical ways to inspire the audiences, engage the communities and also discuss burning national issues which directly affect their life.

Savas Patsalidis is Professor of theatre history and theory in the School of English of Aristotle University (Thessaloniki) and the Drama School of the State Theatre of Northern Greece. He is the author of nine books on drama criticism/theory and co-editor of another ten. He is also the theatre reviewer of the daily newspaper Aggelioforos and a regular theatre commentator for the newspaper Eleftherotypia. He is on the editorial team of Critical Stages (the journal of the International Association of Theatre Critics) and member of the City of Thessaloniki theatre council. His two-volume study Theatre, Society, Nation (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 2010), was awarded first prize by the Hellenic Association of Theatre Critics for best theatre study of the year. His most recent publications include Theatre and Globalization (Athens 2013) and Theatre Essays (University Studio Press, 2013).