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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing from the Archive

The Performance of Power: Theatrical Discourse and Politics

Book: The Performance of Power: Theatrical Discourse and Politics
Edited by:Sue-Ellen Case and Janelle Reinelt
Published by:University ofIowa Press, 1991

This book is an outcome of two conferences — the Association for Theatre in Higher Education in New York (August 1989) and “The Classics in the Contemporary Theatre,” in 1990 sponsored by the Theater Department, University of California. The published essays in the book express the diversity of critical approaches in the field of theatre studies concerning the “performance of power” and the struggle over power relations embedded in texts, methodologies and academy itself (p.i). The book is devised into five sections — Materialist Semiotics,Deconstruction, Revealing Surveillance Strategies, Constructing Utopia and the Academic Institution and the Production of Knowledge.

Drawing from The Masque of Blackness, an early Jacobean era masque, Kim Hall discusses  the ways, “Blackness”, a renewed fascination with racial and cultural differences in the court of King James I. Bredbeck presents a fascinating understanding of Renaissance through the notions of order and disorder, while Savran notes that the Wooster Group’s new performance piece may make “revolution” a “sign without a referent.” Drawing the postcolonial critique of history, and the subaltern studies, Case explores the text, Mahabharata. Further, Carlisle surveys the working class audience. Analysing Chaplin as a symbol of the working class and a Soviet symbol of concomitant glory and humiliation, Golub’s essay provides a historical reading on the formation of subjectivity and identity in Soviet culture. Reinelt does a textbased reading of the plays holding views that socialism and feminism both entail a notion of utopia of possibility and future. Carlson reviews some of the key developments in the history of theatre reminding the study of culture is always ideological.  

“The performance of power is to be discovered and charted not only in what is being studied- plays, performers, productions, audiences…and culture forces but also, more immediately, in the act of scholarship itself, the procedures of writing, delivering and publishing essays.”(p.235)

The Performance of Power- Theatrical Discourse and Politics