Reperformance – April 15, 2013
The journal Agôn dedicates its 6th issue to the question of reperformance, to be released in January 2014.
The words “reperformance,” “rerun,” and “revival” gradually appeared in recent theater programming, competing with those of “original creation.” In a context of crisis, as cultural policies and theater initiatives turn more and more to the known, a phenomenon of cultural heritage building seems to directly affect the performing arts. Moving towards performances that come from the past, thereby becoming references and events, programmers as well as artists seem to make reperformance a new practice. This exercise changes according to each live art’s specificities, and it has triggered reflection across artistic fields.
We are thus interested in asking the question in a global, cross-disciplinary and contemporary way: of what is reperformance a sign? Is reperformance a way to fill the theaters in times of crisis; a new mode of access to knowledge (of a work, of an artist…); a need for the arts to celebrate – from anniversary to commemoration – its great men, its highlights, and its great
works; a means for the artist to legitimize his/her artistic approach by relying on major references; a relation to creation oriented towards the past; or a new lever of creativity for artists, stretched between memory and the present?
In front of the stereotypes regarding live arts – ‘live’ implying ephemeral, volatile, and thus evasive, the question of reperformance allows us to consider differently the threadbare questions of reproduction, repetition, copy, and variation. Live arts as ephemeral? Yes, if you remember, reperformance seems to say. Thinking about the reperformance is also thinking about the constitution of what makes it possible, in its writing, conservation, accessibility and possible replay. The exercise of reperformance explores memory in all its forms, written memory, bodily memory, oral memory, and juggles from one to another to invent its own process and its dramaturgy. Reperformance cannot be dissociated from that on which it is based: the trace, the archive, the document, the score, the recording – at a time of multiplication of these different media and of development of memory initiatives associated with them – but also the personal memory, the testimony, the experience of a body. It stages a memory that plays out through and in the representation and the shared experience that live arts offer and renew every evening.
Beyond that, the injunction of the trace, the testimony, and the document seems to reveal our contemporary taste for the real and invites us to consider reperformance not only as a phenomenon of memory but as a trademark of the performing arts – every performance being inspired and studded by performances that preceded it, consciously or not. One can then look at the practices of borrowing, copying, pasting, editing, and ask the question of what constitutes reperformance: the full reproduction of a mise-en-scene, the transmission of a role, borrowing one or more elements, texts, choreographies…? If there appears to be no expiration date for a show, when does a performance become reperformance?
We invite articles that think and explore reperformance around four main
– Reperformance as a marking of time: anniversaries, best of, tributes, commemorations… the creation of these new “lieux de mémoire” – in the words of Pierre Nora – questions both the political and economic logics and the legitimization process that underlies them.
– The reception of reperformance: to whom is the reperformance addressed? Is the memory of the show strong enough that the viewer who comes back and sees again can measure the reperformance? What is at stake in this strange event that makes one say “I was there”?
– The mechanisms of reperformance: reconstitution, recreation, reconstruction, reactivation, reenactment, restored behavior, second-hand … There can only be reperformance if there is first a take on the past: what are the processes used to resume, recover, quote, compile? What name to give the original being copied?
– Issues of memory, issues of creation: what is left of the original work? Who is the author of the reperformance? What does it mean to re-perform a work in a new historical, political and social context, with different performers, with the same but older? All these questions take place in the exploration of the differences between a version and its reperformance, where truth and fiction and existing and new cohabit.
Contributions may address all art forms – theater, dance, opera, circus, street theater, puppet, performance… – and all geographical areas. Though we want to ask the question of reperformance on contemporary stages, historical and aesthetic perspectives are not excluded.
Send your anonymous proposal (3000 characters maximum, including spaces) in English or in French before April 15, 2013 in .doc format, with a brief CV in a separate document to the following address: email@example.com
The journal welcomes images, graphics, sound files (.mp3 format – 44.1GHz encoded) and videos (.flv format) provided they are in good standing with the legislation on copyright, image rights and broadcasting rights.
We advise contributors to see the latest issues of the journal Agôn (http://agon.ens-lyon.fr/index.php?id=142) to know the spirit in which they are directed – note: former issues are in French.
We also invite them to look at the investigation on the memory of spectators of Bob Wilson’s *Einstein on the Beach*, conducted on the occasion of its reperformance at the Opéra de Montpellier last March (http://agon.ens-lyon.fr/index.php?id=2166) – an investigation that fed the premise of this issue.
 We will mention here as examples the work on notation and score in dance, the Knust Quartet, les Carnets Bagouet, the reconstitution of the *Rite of Spring*, the work of Marina Nordera and Béatrice Massin, the collection of articles under the direction of Isabelle Launay and Sylviane Pages: *Memory and History in Dance*, another collection under the direction of Gérard-Denis Farcy and Vincent Amiel, *Alert Memory: Archives in Creation*, the work on
the stage as a place of memory at the University Rennes 2, Brigitte Prost’s work on the notion of repertoire, *Performance Studies: An Introduction* by Richard Schechner, etc.
 Robert Cantarella gives a recent example of this when he re-performs Gilles Deleuze’s classes in his show *Faire le Gilles.*
 Stan’s anniversaries, *Panorama* by Decouflé, *Dance *by Lucinda Childs, the
revival of *Einstein on the Beach* in 2012…
 « Performances are made of bits of restored behavior. » Schechner, Richard, *Performance studies: an introduction*. London, New York: Routledge, 2002, p. 30.