Performing Publics

A plenary session on the intersection of performance and the public sphere. The session introduced several areas where performance meets public: via public sphere theory (Habermas, Warner, Fraser); via public feelings/affect theory; and via public/urban space theory. Panelists: Shannon Jackson, Jose Muñoz, Janine Marchessault, and Michael Prokopow. Chair: Kim Solga.

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Exploring the Public Sphere

This panel examines and analyzes the public sphere from different perspectives, drawing on various philosophical approaches. Panelists: Janelle Reinelt, Freddie Rokem, and Annalisa Sacchi.

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Our Research, Our Selves

How do performance historians incorporate private experience, insight, or activism into research that addresses the past? How do the personal and the professional, or the present and the past, inform or impinge on each other? What drives a performance historian to spend ten years investigating a question about performances in the past? What stokes this promethean fire, both as an intellectual and creative endeavor? In this podcasts, a panel of performance historians discuss connections, impetuses, inspirations, and insights that connect their research inquiries to their lifelong passions and personal demons. Panelists: Susan Bennett, Jennifer Brody, Tracy C. Davis, Suk-Young Kim, Kim Marra, and Della Pollock. The panel was preceded by an autobiographical performance by Kim Marra, which connected her embodied experience as a lifelong equestrienne to her historical research into “show women” and show horses on various stages in New York City around 1900.

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The Crisis in Public Education

The global economic crisis has thrown the entire world for a loop. Yet the problems, contradictions, and even possible ways out of this crisis have perhaps been most clearly dramatized in the state of California. Here the missteps of the private sector aided by the decisions of public leaders have yielded disastrous consequences for public institutions. Educators and students at the ten campuses of the University of California, for example, returned to class this fall only to find their operating budgets slashed, their staffs furloughed, and the future of affordable and accessible public education as we know it in serious jeopardy. In this roundtable, members of performance departments from the UC system present on the crisis in California and host a conversation on how this moment might offer possibilities for revivifying and strengthening the role of performance in the university. Rather than privilege the crisis of the UC, the California example can offer a point of entry for a larger conversation on the challenges facing education, particularly as it plays out in performance departments internationally. What might our particular canary in the public education coal mine reveal about the trends forming in the larger world of public and private education? What challenges are universities elsewhere facing and how might we learn from one another’s struggles? Panelists: Patrick Anderson, Michael Shane Boyle, Suk-Young Kim, Charlotte McIvor, and Shannon Steen. Chair: Shannon Jackson.

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Image from previous page: Site from Garden/ /Suburbia: Mapping the Non-Aristocratic in Lawrence Park created by Melanie Bennett, Hartley Jafine, Andy Houston, and Aaron Collier. A site-specific performance staged at the 2010 Performing Publics conference. This underpass in Toronto’s Lawrence Park was one of the locations visited by the show’s mobile audience. Photo by Ren Bucholz