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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: May 2006

5 - Postmodernism and performance


At first glance, the phrase “postmodernism and performance” seems straightforward: a critical rubric that designates the postmodernist practices within a specific cluster of cultural categories. Yet even when touched upon lightly, this rubric shatters into a multitude of related yet distinct shards, each a different facet of the relationship it describes. I shall attempt in this chapter to outline some of those facets. I shall not survey the field; rather, I shall discuss selected works and figures that exemplify particular issues and practices. I shall also focus on the performance scene in the United States, simply because it is the one I know best. Although I shall discuss several types of performance, I shall focus largely on questions concerning postmodernism and theatre because the particularly problematic relationship between those terms raises provocative questions. The complexities and difficulties of thinking through the conjuncture of theatre and postmodernism are worth discussing for the ways they point to issues involved in locating postmodernism within the history and practices of particular art forms.