The beach and the sea
Hangö Teaterträff 2022: I’m standing up to my hips in the Baltic Sea. Like most of the other spectators, with whom I sat on the beach before, I have followed the invitation to leave my place in the sand and walk into the water as far as I like, and to stay there as long as I like. That’s why we all wear these green waterproof chest waders. And like putting them on (together with wireless headphones and silvery sun hats) was the beginning, standing in the Baltic Sea is now the end of Asphodel Meadows by Sinna Virtanen – at least when applying Richard Schechner’s definition of performance to it. Because according to this definition, a performance spans “from the time the first spectator enters the field of the performance – the precinct where the theatre takes place – to the time the last spectator leaves.”1
In this case, the precinct where the theatre took place was Hangö’s Casino beach. And in the festival program, Asphodel Meadows was fittingly announced as “site-specific work”2. But – remarkable in the context of a theatre festival – it was not announced as theatre. Maybe this is because Asphodel Meadows is usually marketed as performance, as a visit on the webpage of Pro Artibus foundation shows, by which it was commissioned.3 And this, again, seems to make sense in view of Schechner’s definition, more precisely in view of how he relates the term performance to the term theatre. Because only under the former does he take the audience into account. By the term theatre, in contrast, he just refers to “the event enacted by a specific group of performers”4. Thus, his definition of performance implies that spectating is an activity whose duration can exceed the timespan of the event enacted by performers.5 And since Asphodel Meadows clearly shows this, it seems quite appropriate to market the piece as performance (even though it could in Schechner’s terms also be described as a form of environmental theatre6).
In terms of performance
But surprisingly, the term performance is neither used in the festival program’s announcement.7 And one could almost suspect that the author or authors maybe assumed that it was out of place (or unwise in terms of marketing) to do so in a theatre festival’s program. Yet, another reason could be that Asphodel Meadows in fact also challenges Schechner’s definition of performance in relation to theatre. The way he narrows the term theatre in this context seems anyway a bit odd, when considering that theatre derives from théatron, the Greek word for auditorium (whose more appropriate translation would be ‘visutorium’). Of course, differentiating between the event enacted by the performers and a timespan exceeding that event makes sense, particularly in view of a work like Asphodel Meadows, which gives the audience the possibility to stretch this exceeding timespan and to continue experiencing the situation long after the performers have left. Still, if someone had asked me what I was doing (or what kind of acts I was performing) while standing in the Baltic Sea, I would most probably have given an answer that could have been translated into Ancient Greek by using the verb that gave the théatron (as well as théoria) its name, namely théaomai, meaning I view, watch, observe, gaze, as well as I contemplate and I review.
Sinna Virtanen: Asphodel Meadows (Jo Hislop 2022)8
Definitions run aground
In this sense, Asphodel Meadows shows, in contrast to Schechner’s definition, that theatre is not at all limited to the event enacted by performers and neither ends with their actions nor with their disappearance. Shifting the théatron from the beach into the Baltic Sea in its end, Asphodel Meadows demonstrates, as performance, that theatre can very well continue without performers – and that the spectators can thereby even become particularly aware of the acts the name theatre derives from.
At the same time – and that’s why I just used both the term theatre and the term performance to describe the situation – this also challenges another definition of performance, namely the one of Erika Fischer-Lichte. In case of this definition, which particularly prevails in German theatre studies but also has become quite influential beyond, the basic presumption is that performances could only emerge due to a ‘bodily co-presence’ of performers and spectators, as ‘auto-poietic feedback loop’ of their mutual perceptions and reactions.9
But just like Asphodel Meadows shows that theatre is not dependent on the presence of performers as assumed by Schechner, it also shows that neither performance depends on such a presence as assumed by Fischer-Lichte.10 Both assumptions – and the corresponding definitions – run aground on Hangö’s Casino beach, so to speak. And Asphodel Meadows thus indeed complicates the attempt to apply the terms theatre and performance on it in the sense of their relation’s entrenched understandings. While performance is for both Schechner and Fischer-Lichte an umbrella term that encircles different phenomena of which the term theatre designates a specific one, a work like Asphodel Meadows implies that the relation between performance and theatre may be more complex than this – and that it is just as possible to widen the understanding of the term theatre as it is to understand performance as umbrella term. Maybe it is exactly this complicacy and complexity which explains why both terms were avoided in the festival program’s announcement of Asphodel Meadows.
To be precise though, it must be mentioned that the term performance, when it comes to the cast, managed to rescue itself on the announcement’s beach nevertheless – like a castaway, so to speak. Because in the description of the artistic team, Sinna Virtanen (besides being named as writer and dramaturge) and Malou Zilliacus (besides being named as actor) are credited as performance makers, and Geoffrey Erista (besides being named as actor and dancer) as performance artist.11 Not least because functions like writer, dramaturge and actor are usually rather associated with theatre than with performance, the avoidance of the term theatre seems even more significant in view of that. And even though the term performance neither is used in the announcement’s description of the work, its use in the credits implies that the artists behind Asphodel Meadows, for some reason, still feel a need to distinguish their work to a certain degree from theatre – or from a particular notion of it.
If so, it is not too unlikely that this is an aftereffect of the associations the term theatre was charged with in the US-American discourse on performance, particularly in the contexts of the emergence of performance art in the 1960s and 1970s, and of the institutionalization of performance studies as a new academic discipline in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Because in these contexts – and not least due to Schechner’s and others’ proclamation of a so-called ‘performance paradigm’12 – the term theatre was less detached but rather more closely associated with conventions rooting in bourgeois illusionist theatre. And while particular progressiveness was ascribed to performance, theatre was – as a kind of ‘contrast medium’ – by trend charged with the bad repute of being anachronistic, Eurocentric, inauthentic, politically toothless, or even reactionary – you name it.13
Flotsam and jetsam
Of course, it is difficult to say exactly which elements of this overseas discourse, meanwhile more than half a century old, have drifted ashore on the beach of Asphodel Meadows’ announcement. The castaway is too exhausted to give clear information about it. And what the credits’ waves have otherwise washed ashore on that beach is neither easily identifiable anymore. Rather, it appears like a kind of eroded debris, that has stranded as flotsam and jetsam after a long transatlantic journey.
But when trying to sort the tangle of this flotsam and jetsam out a bit, and by interpreting the castaway’s incoherent stammering, it becomes at least apparent that the artists involved in Asphodel Meadows do not have the same kind of problem with theatre as an authority like Marina Abramović has – the figurehead of performance art, so to speak. In an interview about her MoMA-retrospective The Artist is Present in 2010, for example, Abramović presented her artistic attitude like this: “[T]o be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre. Theatre is fake […]. The knife is not real, the blood is not real, and the emotions are not real. Performance is just the opposite: the knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real.”14
Apart from the fact that there is neither a knife nor blood in Asphodel Meadows, the involved artists obviously don’t share that attitude. Even though the avoidance of both the term theatre and the term performance may also in this respect imply a kind of latent dilemma, they obviously do not hate theatre. If they did so, they would hardly have taken part in a theatre festival. And as regards the festival’s organizers, they apparently neither assume the same contradictoriness of theatre and performance as Abramović does. If they did so, they probably wouldn’t signal a rather open understanding of theatre by describing Hangö Teaterträff as “a festival where performing arts are presented, experienced, discussed and developed.”15 Obviously, they do not have any reservations against programming performances. In fact, their decision to keep the name Hangö Teaterträff, after they had become the festival’s new board in 2016, was exactly due to the approach to widen the notion of theatre instead of sticking to its narrowing demarcation from performance16, as Abramović’s comparison carries it to extremes. And when taking a closer look at a work like Asphodel Meadows, it soon turns out how insufficient a dichotomic understanding like the one of Abramović anyway is. Because Asphodel Meadows, even though usually marketed as performance, does not at all confirm that dichotomy. Instead, it challenges it. And it shows that especially the narrowed understanding of theatre, on which this dichotomy depends, is built on sand.
Sharp(’s) contrast – or: Another beach
Indeed, when asking where this dichotomy originally comes from, the metaphor of building something on sand can be understood quite literally. Because it comes from the early discourse on performance art in the late 1960s and 1970s, motivated by an initial urge to define it as a new art form by distinguishing it from others.17 And in one of the texts that can be regarded as exemplary for its formation, a sandy beach plays a crucial role as well.
This text is the article Body Works by Willoughby Sharp from 1970, published in the first issue of the magazine Avalanche. And the beach is Jones Beach, a part of Long Island, where Dennis Oppenheim recorded his film Backtrack in 1969 – “in which”, as Sharp writes, “the artist’s body was dragged along the sand to make marks”18. He continues:
“In some ways it is reminiscent of Yves Klein’s Imprints (1961), using the bodies of nude models to apply paint on canvas, but Klein was more interested in the theatrics of the works which were generally done as performances. He also kept the physical contact with his materials down to a minimum and wore white gloves so as not to get paint on his hands.”19
As Vivien Aehlig has pointed out, Sharp’s comparison of Oppenheim and Klein presents them as quite contrastive figures: While Oppenheim is, according to Aehlig, depicted as the “figure of the ‘body artist’ […], who willfully searches the contact with the elements and subjects the own body purposefully to painful treatment”20, Klein is depicted as a “dandy-like” figure, reluctant “to dirty his hands”21. In contrast to a notion of performance as based on the use of the body in direct physical contact with its environment, Sharp’s use of the term theatrics thus expressed a notion of theatre, which both implied formal characteristics like “a distanced attitude”22 and “negative connotations like exaggeration and superficiality”23 – showing apparent similarities with Abramović’s differentiation between ‘real’ performance and ‘fake’ theatre.24
Of course, in view of Sharp’s contrast, it would again be very easy to argue that Asphodel Meadows rather qualified as performance than as theatre. After all, it brings both its performers and its audience in direct physical contact with real elements like sand, wind, sunlight, and water. But it does not require all too close examination to realize that it is by far not that simple. Because Asphodel Meadows does not only play with physical proximity. Obviously, it also plays with distance.
Distance and proximity
As regards that play with distance in Asphodel Meadows, it is of course an interesting question to what extent the pandemic and the exigency of social distancing impacted the choice of producing an outdoor piece. But here, more interesting than wondering about its reasons is the question what this play with distance does in aesthetical terms.
So, as regards the spectators, what makes their situation specific is not only that they wear a kind of functional costume and are outside on a beach. It is also the fact that their wireless headphones transmit both the actors’ voices and sounds produced by them. This may of course just appear as a technical solution to make these voices and sounds equably audible for the whole audience by bringing them acoustically close to each of the spectators, who may sit relatively widespread on a potentially windy beach. Indeed, it serves that purpose. But it also makes the spectators aware of their actual distance to the sound sources, exactly by technically bridging this distance. And being that way acoustically isolated and shielded from possible environmental disturbances has a further distancing effect on the spectators’ experiences of the situation.
Additionally, the view over the beach and the sea, relating both actors and spectators to the scenery’s wideness and openness, literally puts the aspects of physical proximity into perspective. Even when standing in the water in the end, one is still distanced from that element by the waders that keep one’s body dry. And all these different aspects of distance make particular sense in relation to the text, which is about loss, longing, and “a hidden sorrow that has not been grieved.”25
That Asphodel Meadows “was born out of a need to create space for sorrow, a need to look at the sea, a need to look in the sea”26 becomes very plausible during the performance. And even though it is a moot question whether the spectators share such a need, Asphodel Meadows certainly creates space for whatever their minds may be occupied with – a space which especially opens up in the end. Because the longer one stays in the Baltic Sea after the focus of attention has changed due to the performers’ disappearance, the more one is confronted with the distance of the open view over the sea and one’s expanding thoughts and associations – apropos théaomai.
Thus, Asphodel Meadows stages an interplay of distance and proximity, instead of just epitomizing one of them. Far from coming close to the dichotomy between performance and theatre as introduced by Sharp, it blurs this dichotomy’s sharpness – as this sharpness should also be blurred in the discourse on performance art, after it first had come up in this discourse’s early phase.27 Because from the attempt to differentiate performance art from other art forms, this discourse would later transition to an emphasis of performance art’s interdisciplinary openness28 (while dichotomic perspectives nevertheless persisted, as Abramović still proved more than thirty years later).
Blurred boundaries – and the predramatic perspective
That the discourse on performance art changed that way was not least due to developments on the side of theatre. As Sandra Umathum has put it, it “mustn’t be overlooked that, like performance art, also the theatre avant-garde of the 1960s and 70s turned against a traditional understanding of the own art form.”29 And according to Hans-Thies Lehmann’s famous description of a postdramatic theatre from 1999, this turn led “to a blurred boundary between theatre and forms of practice such as Performance Art, which strive for an experience of the real.”30 Lehmann thus speaks of a “field in between”, “a common borderland between Performance and Theatre – especially since in the Performance Art of the 1980s a counter trend towards theatricalization could be observed.”31
Moreover, Lehmann conceives postdramatic theatre even in a much wider historical perspective. As he already wrote in his book Theater und Mythos from 1991, it also “alludes in a peculiar way […] to the (European) beginnings of theatre”32 – more precisely: to the theatre of ancient Greece. And this theatre, he describes as predramatic.
By chosing a scenery that features a view over the sea as its site, Asphodel Meadows alludes to this predramatic theatre as well. Because “[a]s with the polis,” Lehmann writes, the theatre of ancient Athens “stands in the closest context with the surrounding natural scenery, imagined as enwrought by divine forces. […] Beyond the Skene, the view reached into the wideness as far as the horizon in the direction of the sea.”33 And as regards the sea in particular, he explicates in relation to the cultural self-perception of Athens:
“For the theatre is the sea, like the scenic conditions in general, an essential element of the ‘opsis’: beyond the theatre facility grove, landscape, and on the horizon the sea, over which, as one assumed, also the god Dionysus once had come. The sea: Real metaphor of the expansive world power, the site of exploration, conquest, of course also of danger.”34
According to Lehmann, this relation to the surrounding natural scenery contributes in a crucial way to the specific ‘constitution of the subject’ in predramatic theatre, more precisely ‘in the discourse of ancient tragedy’, as his book’s subheading puts it. While he describes the dramatic model as closely linked to the Early Modern conception of the subject as self- conscious, autonomous individual35, he regards the spatial conditions of predramatic theatre as one of the components by which ancient tragedy enables a fundamentally different experience of the subject. In addition to the “enormous dimensions” of Athens’ ancient theatre facility itself, he writes, “the into immeasurability widened space [must have made] the contrast between the […] exposed, isolated, and against the background of the nature panorama vanishing small, lost human body [all the more palpable]”36. Or as he put it in a later text – in fact in his last text, published in 2022, his year of death: “While ancient Greek theatre […] had placed the human subject in a cosmic landscape of forces and influences, the purely dramatic model reduces the landscape in order to isolate the agency of the human agent.”37 Thus, in contrast to the notion of the subject fostered by the dramatic model, predramatic theatre – like then postdramatic theatre again – enables, according to Lehmann, an experience of the subject in which it appears as that “divided, self-dubious bundle of social and psychic lines of force”38, which 20th century’s psychoanalytic and poststructuralist theory would conceptualize as ‘decentred subject’.39
The view over the sea in Asphodel Meadows is not that far from such an experience. In fact, it is quite close to it. Because as already mentioned above, the human body is, in relation to the scenery’s wideness and openness, literally put into perspective. And it is also very concretely exposed to outer forces and influences, especially in the end, when the waves arriving from afar move the bodies of the spectators standing in the sea, and the water’s temperature gradually cools these bodies down despite the waders. Additionally, the experience of loss and longing as expressed by the text likewise addresses a notion of subjectivity as characterized by a fundamental lack – as well as going into the water in the end can of course even remind of a suicidal subject like Ophelia. And even though viewing over the Baltic Sea from the coast of Finland in 2022 is of course different from a predramatic view over the Aegean Sea from ancient Athens, it is in its specific way as well charged by connotations regarding expansive world powers and very current issues of conquest and danger.
As regards the relation between the terms performance and theatre, it is of particular interest to now finally compare Lehmann’s thoughts about predramatic, dramatic and postdramatic theatre with the way Josette Féral argues in her text Performance and Theatricality: The Subject Demystified from 1982. Because in this text, Féral ascribes to performance what Lehmann describes as characteristic for pre- and postdramatic theatre, while she uses – at least by trend – the term theatre to describe what Lehmann points out as the specific feature of dramatic theatre.
An important aspect of Féral’s text is that she explicitly argues against the dichotomic understanding of the relation between performance and theatre: “That performance should reject its dependence on theatre”, she writes, “is certainly a sign that it is not only possible, but without a doubt also legitimate, to compare theatre and performance, since no one ever insists upon his distance from something unless he is afraid of resembling it.”40
Nevertheless, her comparison is clearly coined by the demarcation between performance and theatre, as their dichotomic understanding carries it to extremes. And the way she uses the terms shows obvious traits of the connotations with whom this demarcation had charged them – and would continue to do so in the context of performance studies’ institutionalization. This becomes particularly clear when Féral states that “performance escapes all illusion and representation”41, or when she ascribes a certain progressiveness to it by proposing that “theatre can learn from performance.”42
Even though Féral differentiates here and there between “classical theatre” on the one hand and “experimental theatre”, “alternative theatre”43, or “non-narrative and non- representational theatre”44 on the other hand, the term theatre remains generally linked to the former one in her discourse. And as regards representatives of the latter, namely Robert Wilson and Richard Foreman (whom Lehmann names as representatives of postdramatic theatre), she specifies that their works “already belong to performance”45.
That Féral doesn’t manage to overcome the legacy of the theatre-performance dichotomy completely becomes apparent when she relates the terms to the issue of the subject: “It is precisely when it comes to the position of the subject”, she states, “that performance and theatre would seem to be mutually exclusive and that theatre would perhaps have something to learn from performance.”46 And while it is from her point of view the fundamental principle of theatre to maintain the notion of “the unitary subject” (the notion which Lehmann describes as fostered by dramatic theatre), performance brings that subject out of center “in order to dislocate and demystify it.”47 In other words: While exposing the subject as a decentered ‘bundle of social and psychic lines of force’ is what Lehmann describes as characteristic of predramatic and postdramatic theatre, exposing the subject “both as a constituted subject and as a social subject”48 is what Féral sees as characteristic of performance in contrast to theatre.
In fact, Féral eventually connects the terms in her definition of theatricality, describing it as consisting of two parts – the one highlighting performance and the other highlighting ‘the theatrical’.49 But apart from the fact that this definition – by featuring derivations of the term theatre on two levels – appears quite unbalanced in terms of terminology, it also sustains and inherits the divisive connotations of the terms. Performance still appears as linked to subversive progressiveness, liberating the subject’s desire, while ‘the theatrical’ appears as the name for what confines the subject in repressive ways. In Féral’s words: “The former originates within the subject and allows his flows of desire to speak; the latter inscribes the subject in the law and in theatrical codes, which is to say, in the symbolic.”50
Even though Féral emphasizes that “[t]heatricality arises from the play between these two realities”, the term theatre remains eventually narrowed to a synonym for dramatic theatre. The ‘theatrical codes’, in which ‘the theatrical’ inscribes the subject according to Féral, are from her point of view apparently the codes of dramatic theatre. This becomes clear once more, when she eventually states that “[t]he absence of narrativity […] is one of the dominant characteristics of performance”, and that performance “attempts not to tell (like theatre), but rather to provoke synaesthetic relationships between subjects.”51
In fact, if following Féral’s logic (and in view of the general understanding of theatre to which her text referred in its time), her concluding thesis that “performance poses a challenge to the theatre and to any reflection that theatre might make upon itself” would seem plausible. But in view of Lehmann’s description of the relations between predramatic, dramatic and postdramatic theatre, that concluding thesis of Féral shall here be countered. And this shall be performed in form of the concluding thesis of the text at hand, namely the thesis that Lehmann’s discourse offers a reflection upon theatre which demystifies Féral’s understanding of performance – by showing that her (and others’) way of narrowing the term theatre overlooks theatre’s actual diversity, which already contains those aspects which Féral ascribes to performance.
As Asphodel Meadows does not only find traces of performance artists in the sand of Hangö’s Casino beach, but also sights reminiscences of predramatic theatre on this specific site’s horizon, it gives good reason to refuse definitions which narrow the term theatre in relation to the term performance. Expanding the perspective on theatre in that sense, Asphodel Meadows appears as a very appropriate contribution to Hangö Teaterträff’s approach. It furthers the widening of the term theatre. And that way, it performs what is crucial to encompass the open and heterogeneous land- and seascape which theatre in fact is.
Abramović, M. (2010): ‘The knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real.’ – Robert Ayers in conversation with Marina Abramović. March 2010, www.askyfilledwithshootingstars.com/wordpress/?p=1197, retrieved on 11th of March 2018.
Aehlig, V. (2019): Die Theatralität der Performance. Verhandlungen von “Theater” im US- amerikanischen Performancediskurs, Bielefeld: transcript.
Eiermann, A. (2009): Postspektakuläres Theater – Die Alterität der Aufführung und die Entgrenzung der Künste, Bielefeld: transcript.
Eiermann, A. (2013): Other Performances – and the Otherness of Performance, in: V. Wolters & A. Quackels (ed.), MICRO, CONTACT, STRINGS & THINGS (Margarita Production 2003 – 2013) (pp. 32-38), Ghent: MER. Paper Kunsthalle.
Eiermann, A. (2018): ‚I HATE THEATRE – IT’S JUST ILLUSION‘ – Eine Praktik des Scheins als kritische Praxis: Zur Ironisierung anti-illusionistischer Topoi in Iggy und Maike Lond Malmborgs Performance 99 Words for Void, in: O. Ebert, E. Holling, N. Müller-Schöll, P. Schulte, B. Siebert & G. Siegmund (ed.), Theater als Kritik: Theorie, Geschichte und Praktiken der Ent-Unterwerfung (pp. 103-110). Bielefeld: transcript.
Féral, J. (1982): Performance and Theatricality: The Subject Demystified, in: Modern Drama 25, 1, pp. 170-184.
Fischer-Lichte, E. (2008 ): The Transformative Power of Performance. A New Aesthetics, London: Routledge.
Lehmann, H.-T. (1991): Theater und Mythos. Die Konstitution des Subjekts im Diskurs der antiken Tragödie. Stuttgart: Metzler.
Lehmann, H.-T. (2006 ): Postdramatic Theatre, London/New York: Routledge.
Lehmann, H.-T. (2013): Tragödie und dramatisches Theater. Berlin: Alexander Verlag.
Lehmann, H.-T. (2022): The Water, the Stones, in: Carlsen, T. & Arntzen, K. O. (ed.), Landscape Theatre and the North – Lullelic Reflections (pp. 138-152), Stamsund: Orkana.
Pelias, R. J. & VanOosting, J. (1987): A Paradigm for Performance Studies, in: Quarterly Journal of Speech 73, 2, pp. 219-231. chapter 3, pp. 216-225.
Schechner, R. (1973): Drama, Script, Theatre, and Performance, in: The Drama Review 17, 3, pp. 5-36.
Schechner, R. (1973): Environmental Theater, New York: Hawthorn Books.
Schechner, R. (1992): A New Paradigm for Theatre in the Academy, in: The Drama Review
36, 4, pp. 7-10
Sharp, W. (1970): Body Works: A Pre-Critical, Non-Definitive Survey of Very Recent Works Using the Human Body or Parts Thereof, in: Avalanche 1, pp. 14-17.
Umathum, S. (2005): Performance, in: E. Fischer-Lichte, D. Kolesch & M. Warstat (ed.), Metzler Lexikon Theatertheorie (pp. 231-234), Stuttgart: Metzler.
https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/en/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023.
https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/sv/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023.
https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/fi/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows-2/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023.
https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/en/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows-3/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023.
https://proartibus.fi/en/collection/item/3336159-asphodel-meadows/, retrieved on on 28th of February 2023.
https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=7535912929784017&set=pcb.7535913219783988, retrieved on on 28th of February 2023.
https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=7535912926450684&set=pcb.7535913219783988, retrieved on on 28th of February 2023.
1 Schechner, R. (1973): Drama, Script, Theatre, and Performance, in: The Drama Review 17, 3, pp. 5-36, here p. 8 (italicized in the original).
2 https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/en/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows-3/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023.
3 See https://proartibus.fi/en/collection/item/3336159-asphodel-meadows/, retrieved on on 28th of February 2023.
4 Schechner: Drama, Script, Theatre, and Performance, p. 8 (italicized in the original).
5 This is of course anyway a quite well-known theatre convention: The entrance of performers often first takes place after the spectators have arrived. And usually, the performers also go off before the last spectator has left. This also shows how Schechner’s definition is in fact rooted in a conventional understanding of theatre, and how this understanding forms the background and basis of his attempt to challenge and overcome it.
6 See Schechner, R. (1973): Environmental Theater, New York: Hawthorn Books.
7 Only an additional information in the program text’s English version uses the term performance by informing about that “[t]he performance takes place in Swedish and Finnish, but the English translation will be handed out to those who want or need it.” (https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/en/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel- meadows-3/, retrieved on on 28th of February 2023) But in this case, the term is just used as a synonym for presentation or showing, and not to indicate certain aesthetic characteristics or a classification in terms of art form, genre or medium.
8 Sources: https://www.flickr.com/photos/196683399@N02/albums/72177720303959434/with/52521246519/ Both retrieved May 10th 2023.
9 See Fischer-Lichte, E. (2008 ): The Transformative Power of Performance. A New Aesthetics, London: Routledge (particularly chapter 3).
10 For a detailed critique of Fischer-Lichte’s definition of performance (Aufführung), and as regards the proposal of an alternative concept of the term independent from the presumption of a necessary ‘co-presence’ of performers and audience, see Eiermann, A. (2009): Postspektakuläres Theater – Die Alterität der Aufführung und die Entgrenzung der Künste, Bielefeld: transcript. For a compact explication of this approach in English, see Eiermann, A. (2013): Other Performances – and the Otherness of Performance, in: V. Wolters & A. Quackels (ed.), MICRO, CONTACT, STRINGS & THINGS (Margarita Production 2003 – 2013) (pp. 32-38), Ghent: MER. Paper Kunsthalle.
11 See https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/en/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows-3/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023. In the program text’s Swedish version, the terms performanceskapare and performancekonstnär are used (see https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/sv/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023), while the Finnish version features the terms esityksentekijä and esitystaiteilija (see https:// www.hangoteatertraff.org/fi/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows-2/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023).
12 See Schechner, R. (1992): A New Paradigm for Theatre in the Academy, in: The Drama Review 36, 4, pp. 7-10; as well as Pelias, R. J. & VanOosting, J. (1987): A Paradigm for Performance Studies, in: Quarterly Journal of Speech 73, 2, pp. 219-231. chapter 3, pp. 216-225.
13 For a detailed discourse analysis, see Aehlig, V. (2019): Die Theatralität der Performance. Verhandlungen von “Theater” im US-amerikanischen Performancediskurs, Bielefeld: transcript. As regards the discourse on performance art, see particularly ibid., chapter 3, pp. 113-159. As regards the so-called ‘performance paradigm’, see ibid., section 5.1.2, pp. 216-225.
14 Abramović, M. (2010): ‘The knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real.’ – Robert Ayers in conversation with Marina Abramović. March 2010, www.askyfilledwithshootingstars.com/wordpress/?p=1197, retrieved on 11th of March 2018. The text is no longer online, but the quote used here is also documented in various other sources. As regards my former use of it, see Eiermann, A. (2018): ‚I HATE THEATRE – IT’S JUST ILLUSION‘ – Eine Praktik des Scheins als kritische Praxis: Zur Ironisierung anti-illusionistischer Topoi in Iggy und Maike Lond Malmborgs Performance 99 Words for Void, in: O. Ebert, E. Holling, N. Müller-Schöll, P. Schulte, B. Siebert & G. Siegmund (ed.), Theater als Kritik: Theorie, Geschichte und Praktiken der Ent- Unterwerfung (pp. 103-110). Bielefeld: transcript, here pp. 105-106.
15 https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/en/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023.
16 Here I refer to personal communication with Jonas Welander, who did not only commission the text at hand in his function as director of LUST but is also one of the organizers of Hangö Teaterträff – as well as, together with Virtanen, one of the two producers of Asphodel Meadows.
17 See Aehlig: Die Theatralität der Performance, pp. 115-117.
18 Sharp, W. (1970): Body Works: A Pre-Critical, Non-Definitive Survey of Very Recent Works Using the
Human Body or Parts Thereof, in: Avalanche 1, pp. 14-17, here p. 15.
20 Aehlig: Die Theatralität der Performance, p. 119. My translation from German: “Figur des ‘Body Artist’ […], der bewusst den Kontakt mit den Elementen sucht und den eigenen Körper gezielt schmerzhaften Bearbeitungen unterzieht”.
21 Ibid., my translation from German: “die Figur des dandyhaften Yves Klein, der sich nicht die Hände schmutzig machen möchte”.
22 Ibid., my translation from German: “Haltung der Distanz”.
23 Ibid., p. 120, my translation from German: “negative Konnotationen wie Übertreibung und Oberflächlichkeit”.
24 See also Aehlig’s discussion of Abramović’s dichotomization (ibid., pp. 306-310).
25 https://www.hangoteatertraff.org/en/program/sinna-virtanen-asphodel-meadows-3/, retrieved on 28th of February 2023.
27 See Aehlig: Die Theatralität der Performance, pp. 120-121.
28 See ibid., p. 117.
29 Umathum, S. (2005): Performance, in: E. Fischer-Lichte, D. Kolesch & M. Warstat (ed.), Metzler Lexikon Theatertheorie (pp. 231-234), Stuttgart: Metzler, p. 233 (my translation from German).
30 Lehmann, H.-T. (2006 ): Postdramatic Theatre, London/New York: Routledge, p. 134.
31 See ibid.
32 Lehmann, H.-T. (1991): Theater und Mythos. Die Konstitution des Subjekts im Diskurs der antiken Tragödie. Stuttgart: Metzler, p. 2, my translation from German: “berührt es sich […] eigentümlich mit den (europäischen) Anfängen des Theaters”.
33 Ibid., p. 31, my translation from German: “Wie mit der Polis, so steht das Theater im engsten Zusammenhang mit der als von göttlichen Mächten durchwaltet vorgestellten Naturlandschaft ringsumher. […] Über die Skene hinweg ging der Blick in die Weite bis zum Horizont in Richtung Meer”.
34 Ibid., my translation from German: “Für das Theater stellt das Meer, wie überhaupt die landschaftlichen Gegebenheiten, ein wesentliches Element der ‘Opsis’ dar: über die Theateranlage hinaus Hain, Landschaft und am Horizont das Meer, über das, wie man meinte, auch der Gott Dionysos einst gekommen war. Das Meer: Realmetapher der ausgreifenden Weltmacht, der Ort von Erkundung, Eroberung, freilich auch der Gefahr”.
35 See ibid., p. 52.
36 Ibid., p. 31, my translation from German: “gewaltige Dimensionen” & “der ins Unermeßliche geweitete Raum [mußte] den Kontrast um so fühlbarer machen zwischen dem […] exponierten, isolierten und vor dem Hintergrund des Naturpanoramas verschwindend kleinen, verlorenen Menschenkörper”.
37 Lehmann, H.-T. (2022): The Water, the Stones, in: Carlsen, T. & Arntzen, K. O. (ed.), Landscape Theatre and the North – Lullelic Reflections (pp. 138-152), Stamsund: Orkana, p. 143.
38 Lehmann, Theater und Mythos, p. 6.
39 See ibid.; for a further description of the relation between predramatic, dramatic and postdramatic theatre, see also Lehmann, H.-T. (2013): Tragödie und dramatisches Theater. Berlin: Alexander Verlag.
40 Féral, J. (1982): Performance and Theatricality: The Subject Demystified, in: Modern Drama 25, 1, pp. 170-184, here p. 176.
41 Ibid., p. 177. 42 Ibid., p. 176. 43 Ibid.
44 Ibid., p. 171. 45 Ibid., p. 175. 46 Ibid., p. 177. 47 Ibid., p. 173. 48 Ibid.
49 See ibid., p. 178. 50 Ibid.
51 Ibid., p. 179.