Identifying (with) performance : representations and constructions of cultural identity in contemporary theatre practice : three case studies
Identifying (with) performance: Representations and Constructions of Cultural Identity in Contemporary Theatre Practice - Three Case Studies discusses ways in which contemporary live performance affirms, challenges or constructs collective models of cultural identity by addressing the performative relationship through which identity is joined to the process of identification. The thesis argues that cultural identity is constructed within the process of identification, and that this process is articulated through performance. It examines strategies of intervening in this process by theatricalizing those cultural practices that establish and confirm our collective attachments. The thesis explores these strategies through an -in-depth case study of three exemplary artistic practices: Welsh theatre company Brith Gof; Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Coco Fusco, a Mexican and a Cuban-American performance artist based in the U. S.; and the Israeli Acco Theater Center. Using techniques of reiteration, reframing, decontextualization, emphasis, or exaggeration, these artists defamiliarize established patterns of cultural performance in order both to affirm and question the way in which these performances attach us to a collective identity. They utilize forms of interacting and counter-acting the processes of 'seeing' and 'feeling in the identification of and with others in performance. The thesis is composed of six chapters. Chapter One outlines recent theoretical debates on cultural identity and its relationship with identification, focusing in particular on anthropological and ethnographical approaches to performative cultural practices and on sociological and philosophical approaches to performative practices in the constitution of identity. Chapter Two scrutinizes three theatre historical models for a study of identity, and complement these with an account of the current debate on performance theatre, performativity and theatricality. Chapter Three analyses Brith Gof’s theatrical oeuvre in reference to its articulation of spatial concerns. Chapter Four discusses Gómez-Peña’s and Fusco’s performance work in relation to its corporeal strategies. Chapter Five focuses on a discussion of the Acco Theater Center’s seminal performance Arbeit macht frei vom Toitland Europa, in an investigation of its address to the temporal orders of biography, memory and history. Chapter Six concludes the thesis with a general look at the constitution of identification in theatre and performance.