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Unstable Ground

Performance and the Politics of Place


Gay McAuley

Theorists in the humanities and social sciences are increasingly aware of the need to account for the dynamic role played by spatial factors in nearly every domain of human experience. Theatre, as an art form that is utterly dependent on its own spatiality, has a major contribution to make to contemporary debates about space and place. In this book, academics from Australian departments of theatre and performance studies are joined by others from anthropology, cultural and environmental studies as well as site-based performance makers, in order to explore the nexus between place and performance in practices ranging from mainstream theatre and site-specific performance to political demonstrations, rituals of commemoration and social display.
While the places and performances they describe are necessarily local, the issues raised are not peculiar to Australia and will resonate with people in many countries where incoming settlers have displaced indigenous populations, where large-scale migration has unsettled resident populations, where atrocities have been committed (in peacetime as well as war) and people have somehow to find ways to live in places marked by the memory of trauma. The book ends with a theoretical afterword by anthropologist Lowell Lewis, proposing some important refinements to ongoing critical discourse about space and place.
Contents: Gay McAuley: Introduction – Tom Burvill: «On The Waterfront». Three Live Events on the Sydney Harbourside – Ian Maxwell: «Runnin’ Amok». An Acoustemology of Place Resounding in Penrith, Western Sydney – Michael Cohen: Place and Dream-state. Spectacular Representations of Nationhood at Stadium Australia – Joanne Tompkins: Counter-monumentalising and Janis Balodis’s The Ghosts Trilogy – Julie Holledge/Mary Moore: The Memory Museum. A 2001 ‘Sacred Site’ for a Secular Society – Jane Goodall: Haunted Places – Kerrie Schaefer/David Watt: Nobbys, Newcastle. Place, History, Heritage, Identity and Performance – Gay McAuley: Remembering and Forgetting. Place and Performance in the Memory Process – Katrina Schlunke: More than Memory. Performing Place and Postcoloniality at the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial – Paul Dwyer: Re-embodying the Public Sphere. The Arts of Protest – Paul Brown: Maralinga: Theatre from a Place of War – Peter Snow: Performing All Over the Place – Stuart Grant/Tess de Quincey: How to Stand in Australia? – J. Lowell Lewis: Afterword: Theoretical Reflections.