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Towards an embodied poetics of failure: some sideway glances on violence and trauma in needcompany's 'Marketplace 76'

(2015) PERFORMANCE RESEARCH. 20(1). p.56-71
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G000214N bilateral research project FWO-NRF Masks, Puppets and Performative Objects in performing the cultural trauma of Apartheid.
Abstract
The particular ways in which theatre functions as a medium of cultural memory and trauma relief, have been widely debated over the years. This article outlines how theatrical master-narratives ‘working through’ cultural traumas are ‘productions’ of a dominant representational memory regime. The representational logic and the preconceived cathartic effect of Aristotle’s Poetics is foundational for this form of theatre memory. Its classical dramatic aesthetic founds tradition and safeguards continuity and identity at the cost of a-presentational modes of coping with traumas and at the cost of differential perspectives. These theatrical master-narratives ‘working through’ cultural traumas function in an inclusive as well as an exclusive way. With Marketplace 76 Needcompany ‘narrates’ how a community deals with violence, catastrophe, loss, sadness and traumatic experiences in a very particular way. Instead of providing a unilateral master-narrative, the performance offers a kaleidoscope of sideway glances (Žižek) on violence and trauma. Jan Lauwers in that way moves beyond the strictures of a poetics of representation and inaugurates what I call an embodied poetics of failure. The postdramatic aesthetic of Marketplace 76 presents corporeal intensities that testify of the failure to fully comprehend or narrate a traumatic experience. In spite of their efforts, the characters do not ‘work through’ their traumatic past heroically. The performance does not entail a cathartic effect (Aristotle), but contains the potential to produce a shock to thought (Deleuze) that is expressive of so-called ‘inspeakable’ violent or traumatic events. Stuttering, stumbling, falling and vanishing bodies are in that sense the ‘bodies that matter’. This embodied poetics of failure also entails an ethical perspective; it dismantles the differential distribution of precarity at work in a unilateral master-narrative ‘working through’ cultural traumas.
Keywords
postdramatic aesthetic, Needcompany, trauma studies, memory studies, theatre studies, performance studies, Jan Lauwers, Marketplace 76

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Chicago
Stalpaert, Christel. 2015. “Towards an Embodied Poetics of Failure: Some Sideway Glances on Violence and Trauma in Needcompany’s ‘Marketplace 76’.” Ed. Ric Allsopp. Performance Research 20 (1): 56–71.
APA
Stalpaert, C. (2015). Towards an embodied poetics of failure: some sideway glances on violence and trauma in needcompany’s “Marketplace 76.” (R. Allsopp, Ed.)PERFORMANCE RESEARCH, 20(1), 56–71.
Vancouver
1.
Stalpaert C. Towards an embodied poetics of failure: some sideway glances on violence and trauma in needcompany’s “Marketplace 76.”Allsopp R, editor. PERFORMANCE RESEARCH. Taylor & Francis; 2015;20(1):56–71.
MLA
Stalpaert, Christel. “Towards an Embodied Poetics of Failure: Some Sideway Glances on Violence and Trauma in Needcompany’s ‘Marketplace 76’.” Ed. Ric Allsopp. PERFORMANCE RESEARCH 20.1 (2015): 56–71. Print.
@article{5869676,
  abstract     = {The particular ways in which theatre functions as a medium of cultural memory and trauma relief, have been widely debated over the years. This article outlines how theatrical master-narratives {\textquoteleft}working through{\textquoteright} cultural traumas are {\textquoteleft}productions{\textquoteright} of a dominant representational memory regime. The representational logic and the preconceived cathartic effect of Aristotle{\textquoteright}s Poetics is foundational for this form of theatre memory. Its classical dramatic aesthetic founds tradition and safeguards continuity and identity at the cost of a-presentational modes of coping with traumas and at the cost of differential perspectives. These theatrical master-narratives {\textquoteleft}working through{\textquoteright} cultural traumas function in an inclusive as well as an exclusive way. 
With Marketplace 76 Needcompany {\textquoteleft}narrates{\textquoteright} how a community deals with violence, catastrophe, loss, sadness and traumatic experiences in a very particular way. Instead of providing a unilateral master-narrative, the performance offers a kaleidoscope of sideway glances (\v{Z}i\v{z}ek) on violence and trauma. Jan Lauwers in that way moves beyond the strictures of a poetics of representation and inaugurates what I call an embodied poetics of failure. The postdramatic aesthetic of Marketplace 76 presents corporeal intensities that testify of the failure to fully comprehend or narrate a traumatic experience. In spite of their efforts, the characters do not {\textquoteleft}work through{\textquoteright} their traumatic past heroically. The performance does not entail a cathartic effect (Aristotle), but contains the potential to produce a shock to thought (Deleuze) that is expressive of so-called {\textquoteleft}inspeakable{\textquoteright} violent or traumatic events. Stuttering, stumbling, falling and vanishing bodies are in that sense the {\textquoteleft}bodies that matter{\textquoteright}. This embodied poetics of failure also entails an ethical perspective; it dismantles the differential distribution of precarity at work in a unilateral master-narrative {\textquoteleft}working through{\textquoteright} cultural traumas.},
  author       = {Stalpaert, Christel},
  editor       = {Allsopp, Ric},
  issn         = {1352-8165},
  journal      = {PERFORMANCE RESEARCH},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {56--71},
  publisher    = {Taylor \& Francis},
  title        = {Towards an embodied poetics of failure: some sideway glances on violence and trauma in needcompany's 'Marketplace 76'},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2015.991600},
  volume       = {20},
  year         = {2015},
}

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