Problems in Performance: Failure and Classical Reception Studies
This panel aims to move away from what may be seen as a partial and skewed history of the performance and reception of Greek and Roman theatre in modernity, which focuses on positive case studies that celebrate the successful adaptation and application of ancient drama in diverse contexts. This panel instead proposes to explore a fuller and more nuanced history, focusing in particular on “failed” moments of classical theatre. Possible areas of scrutiny include, but are not limited to:
- Invocations of Greek and Roman plays that were received with indifference or with lukewarm interest
- Modern performances of classical plays that “sort of” worked, or received negative receptions
- Moments of bewilderment and puzzlement in modern audiences, stemming from classical references, themes and motifs
In emphasizing scenes of “failed” reception and problems in performance in modernity, we seek to explore a larger question: how does an understanding of such an alternative performance history provide us with a fuller and different history of classical reception in modern theatre and more broadly, in the modern world? Through such an inquiry, this panel aims to unsettle the polarized state of Classical Reception Studies, in which classical texts are viewed on a binary system, as either agents of liberation or oppression. Rather than looking for more examples of how ancient theater has “successfully” administered the power to say the unsayable, we are especially eager for contributions that can help us think about performances which generated problems around conflicted subjectivity – about the awkward and difficult closeness between perpetrators and victims of political and sexual violence; about the complicities between the colonizer and the colonized.
Please send an anonymous abstract for a 20-minute paper as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 8, 2019, listing the title of this panel as the subject line of the email. The text of the abstract should not mention the name of the author. Submissions should follow the SCS guidelines for individual abstracts and will be reviewed by the organizers, who will make final selections by the end of March.