In setting foot on stage, every performer risks the possiblity of failure. Indeed, the very performance of any human action is inextricable from its potential not to succeed. This inherent potential has become a key critical trope in contemporary theatre, performance studies, and scholarship around visual cultures. Beyond Failure explores what it means for our understanding not just of theatrical practice but of human social and cultural activity more broadly.
The essays in this volume tackle contemporary debates around the theory and poetics of failure, suggesting that in the absence of success can be found a defiance and hopefulness that points to new ways of knowing and being in the world.
Beyond Failure offers a unique and engaging approach for students and practitioners interested not only in the impact of failure on the stage, but what it means for wider social and cultural debates.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Knowing Failure
Tony Fisher and Eve Katsouraki
PART I: THE CULTURAL POLITICS OF FAILURE
2. Carry on Camping?: Spectacle, Concealment, and Failure in the Performance of Politics
3. What Chance Failure?
4. Subverting the System: Kent Monkman and the Cultural Politics of Performing ‘Two-Spiritedness’
Shanna Ketchum-Heap of Birds
5. Come Hear the Music Play: The Politics of Queer Failure and Practices of Survival
6. Asserting Afro-German Subjectivity on the German Stage
PART II: FAILURE AND PERFORMANCE
7. Anaesthesis: Dance Marathons and the Limits of Sense
8. Missing the Target: Emotion, Stoic Psychology, and the Actor
PART III: THEATRE’S PHILOSOPHY OF FAILURE
9. Theatre of the Worldless
10. Theatre’s Broken Middle
11. What a Joke: Ruzzante’s Failed Attempt at the Good Life
Tony Fisher is Reader in Theatre and Philosophy at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London. His monograph, Theatre and Governance in Britain, 1500–1900: Democracy, Disorder and the State, was published in 2017. He is also co-editor (with Eve Katsouraki) of Performing Antagonism: Theatre, Performance and Radical Democracy (2017).
Eve Katsouraki's research concerns the intersections of philosophy and performance, especially in relation to modernism, political performance and animals. She is an editor for the peer-reviewed journal Performance Philosophy and core-convenor for the international Performance Philosophy network. She co-edited (with Tony Fisher) the volume Performing Antagonism: Theatre, Performance and Radical Democracy (2017).