Simpozij → Seminar sodobnih scenskih umetnosti

Alan Read: Performance / Patience

Monday, 9 March 2009 at 19.00
Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, M3-M4 hall


“…something happens to us […] in the reconstituted fabric of our patience”.
Alain Badiou.

Alain Badiou here puts his finger on something that we know well already from Samuel Beckett’s best known work, a capacity for patience that constitutes the possibility of democracy. If the fabric of our patience can be paraphrased as our ability to wait, (both the ability to wait and crucially to let others wait) then Peter Sloterdijk might be right when he came up with a curiously banal architectural rendition of the democratic principle: “…democracy is based on the proto-architectonic ability to build waiting rooms…”.i If for Badiou it is Art’s mission to shelter points of exception from which truth proceeds, what does this shelter look like? Might a capacity for patience itself be a shelter for the waiting required of democratic deliberation. If it were could we enhance our repertoire of patient performance (without simply figuring that in titles that start Waiting For…)?

From this starting point I will draw upon my recently published arguments concerning ‘radical inclusion’ in my book Theatre, Intimacy & Engagement: The Last Human Venue shifting attention from the privileged senses of the eye and ear (humanist sensorium) to some more recalcitrant, or at least intangible but perhaps relevant accommodations of the peculiarity of our performance trade – beyond humans. It seems as well as talking of the cultures of spectation of the eye (gaze, scopophilia etc) and audition of the ear (interpolation, acoustic envelope etc) we might begin to talk of the typifying regimes in which performance now takes its place, in terms of how they, we, deal with the time of judgement and consequently distinguish between patient and impatient systems. This is where Alain Badiou’s ‘reconstituted fabric of our patience’ seems so fertile.

About the lecturer

Alan Read is currently Professor of Theatre at King's College London where he is developing the old Anatomy Theatre and Museum on the Strand as the new London home for the Performance Foundation. ‘Abandoned Practices’ will provide the first research focus for this centre between 2009 and 2011. Alan Read is the author of Theatre & Everyday Life: An Ethics of Performance (Routledge: 1995) and Theatre, Intimacy & Engagement: The Last Human Venue (Palgrave: 2008). He is the editor of The Fact of Blackness: Frantz Fanon and Visual Representation (Bay Press: 1996) and Architecturally Speaking: Practices of Art, Architecture and the Everyday (Routledge: 2000). As a founding Consultant Editor of Performance Research Alan Read has edited two issues of the journal “On Animals” (2000) and “On Civility” (2004). Alan Read directs the MA Text and Performance Studies collaborative programme between King's College London and RADA and invites applications for PhD research in the field of Abandoned Practices from 2009-11. 

The Performance Foundation web site www.performancefoundation.org.uk will be live from June 1st 2009.