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Quartet Symposium Keynote lecture: ‘Staging the People: Performance, presence and representation’ (Adrian Kear, TFTS)
This lecture will seek to set-up and investigate a key question at the heart of the inter-relation between politics and aesthetics: the inevitable gap and potential conflict between presence and representation made manifest in the internal contradictions and recurrent tensions of the ‘distribution of the sensible’ (Rancire 2004: 12). It will examine how the practice of ‘staging the people’ might be considered central to imaging and constituting ‘the people’ in an increasingly theatricalised social formation and to managing their ‘political claim’ (Rancière 1999: 87—88)
The argument will build on comparative analysis of two contemporary theatre works explicitly concerned with ‘staging the people’, performed in Manchester and Salford in the Spring of 2016: Quarantine’s Quartet and Rimini Protokoll’s 100% Salford. Both works examine how the lived experience of everyday lives might be brought to the stage through an apparent logic of presentation rather than representation: by ordinary people occupying the space of theatrical performance rather than seeing themselves and their lives represented by others (i.e. ‘actors’ – whether theatrical or political). Following the reading of these (pre-Brexit) works, the lecture seeks to question whether the aesthetic shift towards self-presentation might correlate with a broader critique of the structures of political representation, or whether the frame of representation anticipates, accommodates and appropriates the materiality of presence in advance.