Intervals, gaps, breaks, ellipses, caesuras, pauses, syncopes…
Live performance can very literally have an interval. In addition, in our modern world of hyper-acceleration, Jonathan Crary calls for a state of being suspended, or an interval: ‘a looking or listening so rapt that it is an exemption from ordinary conditions … a hovering out of time.’ (Suspensions of Perception, 1999). This year, the Directing and Dramaturgy Working Group will examine the centrality of intervals to theatre.
In some respects theatre, a moment where ‘time is out of joint’ to use Hamlet’s words, constitutes an interval in our lives. Hans-Thies Lehmann’s recent major publication on theatre describes how live performance has the capacity to ‘uncover depth underneath the terror of the surface’ and to provide ‘[a] moment of hesitation, of faltering, reflective pausing’ (Tragedy and Dramatic Theatre, 2016). While for Lehmann, as for Crary, gaps and intervals can enable the suspension of everyday time and offer pause for reflection, for Marie-Jose Mondzain they open a ‘breach’, a dislocation of signs and images from their habitual and consensual uses, and an interrogation of false evidences (The Commerce of the Gaze, 2008). For Jacques Rancière, too, splitting and severing are essential in order to reconfigure realities and to permit new ways of seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling (The Emancipated Spectator, 2008). Catherine Clément talks of the ‘syncope’ rather than the interval or breach, in order to challenge the certainties of Enlightenment reason with gaps and fissures (Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture, 1990). Finally, for Alain Badiou, events only come into being retroactively, when constructed via thoughts, and named via forms. There is always and inherently, therefore, a gap, an interval between any event, including the theatrical event, and how it is represented (The Century, 2005). When Derrida claims that ‘caesura is the law’, does he, too, not seek to shatter self-presence (Sovereignties in Question, 2005)?
The Directing and Dramaturgy Working Group invites papers, provocations or practical workshops on the following interpretations of the ‘interval’, and any others you might like to propose:
- What directorial or dramaturgical practices can afford the audience intervals for reflective pausing, or of faltering, to use Lehmann’s terms?
- How can interruptions, dislocations, separations and caesuras enable audiences to see, hear, feel or think differently?
- How can directing and dramaturgical practices enable audiences to perceive the ruptures between events and their staging?
- What might a politics of waiting or inaction be in theatre? Is there a possible politics of withdrawal, in a world of pseudo-activity, meaningless debate and intervention?
- Samuel Beckett’s waiting, Harold Pinter’ pauses… What does the interval or gap look like on the stage?
- How can we theorize the literal interval during a theatrical production in dramaturgical terms? What does it add to or take away from the show?
We invite members and potential members of the Working Group to submit a 200-word abstract or statement of intent the WG convenors by Thursday 13 April 2016. Papers can take the form of a 10-minute provocation as a basis for group discussion or a 3,000- word pre-circulated essay. We also welcome other formats, for example a practical workshop. Please email all abstracts, an additional few sentences of biographical information and precise details of the audio-visual technology you will need to make your presentation to the working group convenors:
Cara Berger, University of Manchester: cara.berger:manchester.ac.uk
Clare Finburgh, University of Kent: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Haddow, University of St Andrews: email@example.com
Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2017 Conference. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Papers. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the conference; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the conference venue.