Terror and Performance – A Workshop

a short report by Rashna Nicholson
DFG Research Training Group: „Globalization and Literature. Representations, Transformations, Interventions“, LMU Munich, and associate of the GTH project

On 12 May 2015, Rustom Bharucha, Professor at the School of Arts & bharucha_webAesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and acclaimed writer of Theatre and the World: Performance and the Politics of Culture,[1] conducted a workshop in Munich based on his most recent work, Terror and Performance.[2] Beginning with his impetus for the writing of his book (one of these being a production of Jean Genet’s The Maids in Manila in 2001), he went on to delineate the starting point of the work: the desire to free ‘terror’ from the language of ‘terrorism’. In this extrapolation of ‘terror’ from ‘terrorism’ he stated the methodological limits of such a view, the chief one being that of literary ‘sprawling’. Nevertheless such a point of view bolstered the ethical rationale in the process of the writing of the text. The second term that need tackling then was that of ‘Performance’ one that he stated was ‘less conditioned by the ‘artistic’ orchestration of a corporeal, ‘live’, rehearsed, time-and-space bound event, framed within the cultural norms of civic institutions like state theatres, than by a much wider understanding (..) inextricably linked to social interactions, behaviours, strategies, deceptions, manipulations, and negotiations of terror in the public sphere.’[3] Through the reclaiming of Judith Butler’s ‘performativity’ within the realm of theatrical praxis, Prof. Bharucha asked for a rethinking of performance as a set of tools to analyze terror. He explained his use of the latter through his clarifications on the ‘queering’ of Muslims as ‘terrorist’ through personal example and through the concept of performativity animating political discourse in the Truth and Reconciliation process in Rwanda and South Africa. Finally as a conclusion he turned to Gandhi’s activist performances in order to question the potency of non-violence in an age of terror. The discussion that took place after the presentation revolved primarily around methodological questions pertaining to the extrapolation of ‘terror’ from ‘terrorism’ and on the constitutive elements of performance. Visual aspects and the assumption of an audience common to both terrorism and performance were highlighted as also the ethics that need be deployed in the writing of terror or terrorism as performance.

[1] Rustom Bharucha, Theatre and the World: Performance and the Politics of Culture, London: Routledge, 1993.

[2] Rustom Bharucha, Terror and Performance, London: Routledge, 2014.

[3] Ibid., pp. 19-20.

Negotiating the Entertainment Business: Theatrical Brokers around 1900

Brokers Detail

Special focus issue of the Popular Entertainment Studies Journal, Vol 6, No 2 (2015)

Guest Editor: Nic Leonhardt (Munich)

“Between the artist who seeks for an engagement and the manager always on the look out for an extraordinary ‛novelty,’”, write Hughes Le Roux and Jules Garnier in Acrobats and Mountebanks (1890), “a third person necessarily intervenes, the middle-man, who arises everywhere between buyer and seller. And, in fact, at the present time all the principal cities of the world have their agents for performing artists of every kind. These personages are very important, and make large profits.”

Profits, Copyright, Royalties, Networking… From a transnational historical perspective, neither theatre as an art form nor theatre as a business can work without the patronage of professional mediators. When French actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) toured Europe, South and North America in the late-19th and early 20th centuries, she could not do so without professional agents and managers. They were responsible for arranging her contracts, negotiating her royalties, taking care of the travel logistics, (ship, train, accommodation, customs), arranging her itinerary, the transport of her costumes, and the press work. Despite their enormous influence , the practices, connections and circuits of artistic brokers in the period under consideration have been, in the main, under-researched.

The current issue of the Popular Entertainment Studies journal gathers a selection of papers from the international symposium “Cultural Brokers. Nomenclature, Knowledge and Negotiations of (Performance) Agents, Managers and Impresarios (1850-1930)”, which took place in October 2014. This conference, organized by Nic Leonhardt, and generously funded by the Center for Advanced Studies of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the German Research Foundation, brought together scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds such as English and American Studies, History, Theatre Studies, and History of Law, in order to exclusively and intensively discuss the profession of brokerage in the larger theatrical world in the period under discussion. The focus was therefore on the profession of theatrical brokers, agents, and impresarios who functioned as crucial cultural mediators in the fields of the performing arts and media in Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia, and Africa between 1880 and 1930.

Table of Contents

Nic Leonhardt: Editorial

Christopher Balme: Managing Theatre and Cinema in Colonial India: Maurice E. Bandmann, J.F. Madan and the War Films’ Controversy

meLê yamomo: Brokering Sonic Modernities: migrant Manila musicians in the Asia Pacific, 1881-1948

Tracy C. Davis: International Advocacy for Fire Prevention: Calculating Risk and Brokering Best Practices in Theatres

Louis Pahlow: Industrialised Music Brokers as Competing Market Players: The Administration of Music Rights in Germany (ca. 1870-1930)

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