Monday, June 18, 2012

Performance Publics, Public Discourse

Three newspaper articles--one international, one national, one local--that I've read over the past two days draw attention, in different ways, to ideas of performance publics and the performance of public discourse, ideas which I also consider a crucial animating aspect of this blog.

First, in yesterday's New York Times, an article on what an exiled Syrian playwright in Lebanon, Mohammad al-Attar, is trying to accomplish through theatre where international diplomacy has so far failed.

Next, in today's Globe and Mail, a piece from J. Kelly Nestruck about tonight's Wrercking Ball performance in Toronto, which is partly pitched as an homage to Edward Bond (a festival celebrating his plays is running concurrently in the city), but which also features a 10-minute piece from Brad Fraser rehashing the brouhaha a few months ago at Tarragon about AD Richard Rose's decision not to stage then playwright-in-residence Michael Healey's new satire about Stephen Harper. Fraser sees the issue as one of troubling self-censorship in the face of a federal government hostile to the arts. But this is based soley on Healey's side of the story. What if Rose, who has so far (and to his inestimable credit) refused to comment on the issue, just thought the play was bad?

Finally, in an op-ed piece in today's Vancouver Sun, my university President, Andrew Petter, and Chancellor, Carole Taylor, officially launch SFU's Public Square, an initiative to engage the community in dialogue about issues of pressing local and global concern. Although the square, per se, is neither materially located nor expressly linked to performance, it is hard not to see SFU Woodward's as playing an instrumental role in any such public platform, not least in terms of its own role within, and responsibilities to, the Downtown Eastside. Hence my inclusion of this story alongside the other two.


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