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Performing the City

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2005


Lewis Mumford, writing in the 1930s, understood the city as a ‘theater of social action’. Mumford's ideas remain important in the context of the contemporary post-industrial city, in which theatricality and performativity are key drivers of so-called ‘experience economies’. Increasingly, urban planners are attuned to such theatrical notions as the ‘urban scene’ and ‘urban drama’ in framing policy. Adopting interpretive strategies enabled by Performance Studies, this paper gives an account of some of the ways in which theatre and performance are made manifest in cities. It considers some of the implications of urban performativity, arguing that good city planning demands an ethics of performance, whereby citizens become spectators and co-performers in the urban drama.

International Federation for Theatre Research 2005

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