IFTR Warwick World Congress

Very excited to be speaking in  IFTR 2014 World Congress on Performance and Architecture, Projects, Practices, PedagogiesWarwick University with the topic: Occupying Momentum, Design Through Performance, on the 1st of August 2014.

For more information on what is going to be discussed please visit: http://iftr2014warwick.org/theme/


To speak of stratification is not merely to speak of layers and layering. In the earth sciences, stratification refers to the formation of identifiable layers of rock, each of which marks – and hence is embedded within – distinct periods of history. In archaeology and excavation, the fragments of culture are understood according to stratigraphic principles as well. Here too it is the actual layering of history that provides context and significance to cultural artefacts, not only with regard to the specific stratum in which the artefacts are lodged but also in the relation that strata have to each other. In the social sciences, stratification takes on an identifiably political but no less historical verve. It refers to the ordering of individuals, groups and institutions within socio-political hierarchies and global economies. Social stratification operates with historically constructed categories like nationality, citizenship, class, caste, race, ethnicity, religion, education, language, age, gender, and sexuality. Such categories regulate authority and power, access and mobility, privilege and entitlement, as well as labour, production and performance broadly defined. The arts are by no means exempt from these processes of historical, social, political and cultural stratification. Indeed, at the most basic level, one of the more provocative lines of inquiry that theatre historians might pursue can be distilled into the simple question: how is theatre stratified?

Simple though this question might appear to be, it invites inquiry not only into the multiple ways that theatre is layered outwardly but also into the multiple layers of theatre itself. It asks how theatre marks and is embedded within history, and how the theatre of one historical moment is positioned in relation to other moments or events of history. It asks how theatrical events are positioned in relation to each other, and how any given theatrical event is layered not only in terms of its aesthetic and ideological structures but also in terms of its spatial and temporal dynamics. It queries notions of high, low and middlebrow theatre. Moreover, to ask how theatre is stratified is to ask how theatre as an institution as well as theatre as a practice is positioned within functioning hierarchies of social, political, cultural and economic power. It is, in short, to ask about the kinds of layering not only in which theatre participates but which it produces as well. Stratification affects performance, and to ask how theatre is stratified is to query how stratification affects theatre’s performance. Asking how theatre is stratified is an invitation to consider how theatre might serve as a catalyst for rethinking the very hierarchies that regulate the present and foreseeable future of the institutions of theatre and scholarship:….




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