What is performance? We do not need to be in a theatre to think about the theatricality of how we behave in culture, but can a performance exist if there are no spectators? How do we know when performances are taking place if there is no curtain rising and falling? What does the act of performance achieve? How does performance studies attempt to answer those questions?
This collection of lively and stimulating articles on performance studies provides an understandable introduction to the field, and to the way in which performance touches all of our lives – from the rituals and ceremonies in which we partake, to the way we present ourselves depending on the company we keep. Together these articles help clarify what constitutes performance studies and introduce the reader to the many theoretical perspectives – including feminist, queer, post-structuralist and post-colonial – which are used to study performance in culture. Acts considered range from those that can be easily identified as performance, such as the strip-show, to the more theoretically complex, such as performative speech.
One of the first of its kind on performance studies, this reader is an essential text for all those with an interest in the subject, or who are approaching it for the first time.