Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-tn8tq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-22T01:41:27.508Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Potential of the End(ing): Anticipated Nostalgia in To the Dogs by Lone Twin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2009


The following article examines the functions and the effects of the process of setting an ending. The performance To the Dogs by the English performance duo Lone Twin stages its end(ing) by interlinking two phenomena which have often been separated in theatre criticism: the theatrical event – seen as something happening in the present – and narrative – considered as something belonging to the past. In To the Dogs the event is narrativized by the performers as it goes along, providing it with endings on the level of rhetoric, content and time structure. In this process the performance is transformed into a myth, in which the event is anticipated as a closed story, even though it is still about to happen. This future-poetics of the end(ing), in which a collective event, paradoxically, is being charged in advance with nostalgia, illustrates the affective force of a (narrative) ending as performance. It does so not only in a negative, restrictive sense of closing the event as story, but also in a positive, enabling sense: To the Dogs raises the question of how far the discourse about an event regarded as unique and inaccessible implies a narrative quality. The process of setting a future ending is revealed as being more than a generator of narrative closure; this essay aims to perform the fact that it is also an enabling moment of opening the seemingly closed event as myth into a time afterwards.

Copyright © International Federation for Theatre Research 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



1 ‘[P]erformance lives in the now, while narrative histories describe it later. Enacted in the present tense, performance lives, rather than tells its meaning’. Phelan, Peggy, ‘Shards of a History of Performance Art: Pollock and Namuth through'; a Glass, Darkly’, in Phelan, James and Rabinowitz, Peter J., eds., A Companion to Narrative Theory (Maldon, Oxford and Carlton: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), 499512 here p. 500CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 All quotes from To The Dogs are taken from the videorecording and the script written by Gary Winters and Gregg Whelan, Brussels, May 2004. The performance was presented in English.

3 Beursschouwburg, Brussels, 2004.

4 The game ‘I packed my suitcase’ is played by children sitting in a circle. One starts with the sentence ‘I went on holiday’, continuing with ‘I packed my suitcase with’, and then adding one imaginary item into the imaginary suitcase. The next person repeats the whole sentence, including the first item, and adds another item to it, and so on.

5 As in the term ‘postdramatic’; cf. Lehmann, Hans-Thies, Postdramatic Theatre, tr. Jürs-Munby, Karen (London and New York: Routledge, 2006)Google Scholar.

6 Other examples include Besuch der alten Dame (Rimini Protokoll, Schauspielhaus Zürich, 2007), Exquisite Pain (Forced Entertainment, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, 2006), The Last Hour (Plan B, Ausland, Berlin, 2005) and Super Night Shot (Gob Squad, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, 2003).

7 On the following see Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, tr. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer, 3 vols. (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), pp. 64–7.

8 Ricoeur, Paul, ‘Narrative Time’, in Bal, Mieke, ed., Narrative Theory: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies, Vol. 3: Political Narratology (London and New York: Routledge 2004), 327–47Google Scholar, here p. 332.

9 Jerome Bruner, ‘Self-Making and World-Making’, in Jens Brockmeier and Donal Carbaugh, eds., Narrative and Identity: Studies in Autobiography, Self and Culture (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamin's Publishing Company, 2001), 25–37 here p. 26.

10 Cf. Brockhaus encyclopedia in twenty-four volumes, nineteenth completely revised edition, Vol. 1: A – APT (Mannheim, 1986), p. 565.

11 Gabriele Brandstetter, ‘Geschichte(n) Erzählen im Performance/Theater der neunziger Jahre’, in Erika Fischer-Lichte, Doris Kolesch and Christel Weiler, Transformationen. Theater der Neunziger Jahre (Berlin Theater der Zeit, 1998), 27–42 here p. 31.

12 Ricoeur, ‘Narrative Time’, p. 332.

13 Aristotle, The Poetics, with an English Translation by W. Hamilton Fyfe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 25.

14 Peter Crawley, ‘To The Dogs’, Irish Times, 27 November 2004. Lone Twin performed a shorter version of To the Dogs in Dublin, Project Cube, 24–7 November 2004.

15 See Durkheim, Emil, Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse (Paris: Les Presses Universitaires de France, 1912)Google Scholar.