Diana Damian Martin*

Diana Damian

The whiteboard was filling up and the discussion picking up pace; some were lying on pillows on the floor, others were sat on chairs with their notebooks open. We were talking about the performances we had seen that day in Spill Festival of Performance, and threads were starting to form, arguments heating up. We were discussing claims made by the works, and their political implications; drawing formal and thematic threads across them; questions of responsibility and authorship were cropping up regularly, coffee was being spilled everywhere in theatrical gesturing. What were we performing, as a temporary collective engaged critically with the work? And, how about our deliberations: What critical models were we following? In what ways were we intervening into the public discourses facilitated by the festival, both those taking place on corridors and in bars, and in the held spaces of public Salons?

If we consider deliberation to be a fundamental, democratic operation through which public opinion and cultural discourse are constituted in the public sphere, then to what extent might we find a productive relationship between criticism and oral deliberation? If deliberation is characterised by assembly and, therefore, collectivity, in what ways might oral criticism benefit from these shared characteristics?

I trace a relationship between oral criticism and deliberation, and base my discussion on my collaboration with Spill Festival, one of the UK’s largest festivals of experimental performance, which aims to provide fertile ground for the development of political, experimental performance practice. For the past four years I have been taking part in the festival as a resident writer;[1] this has involved taking part in Salons, thematic conversations open to artists and audiences, as well as leading a development programme for writers, who were invited to write texts, hold open sessions and have a physical and material presence in the festival. I have been increasingly interested in the ways in which Spill Festival constitutes productive, deliberative spaces that introduce several aspects of criticism that are usually under-explored: embodiment, collectivity and disagreement.

This paper travels across contexts in order to examine orality and criticism. It marks the beginning of a direction of thought, and sets the parameters for a longer-term engagement with criticism, and the questions posed by orality as a form and filter. Firstly, I reflect through a process of mapping, and secondly, I draw methodologically from two distinct fields of knowledge: performance studies and critical theory.

I begin by making an argument for this collective engagement as a form of oral critical practice. To do so, I look at conceptualisations of criticism since postmodernism, examining how these have invited a reorientation of the ways in which we understand criticism’s operations in neoliberal society. I propose that oral criticism is a particular type of event characterised by plurality and embodiment. This physical presence of the critic and the relinquishing of a traditional kind of authorship and authority within a collective space offer possibilities for a different kind of engagement of criticism in cultural, political and social life under neoliberalism; one that is perhaps more urgent, and more orientated towards an openly political relationship to performance culture, its audiences and producers.

Secondly, I turn to theorisations of the public sphere that concentrate on the formation of public opinion. Here, I look at how orality presents a productive context in which the embodied, present critic can engage with public discourse and collectivity. Orality invites the critic to operate within a paradigm of participation, raising questions about the activation of contemporary discursive spaces.

Inextinguishable Fire. Photo: Heather Cassils with Robin
Inextinguishable Fire. Photo: Heather Cassils with Robin
Criticism since postmodernism plurality and equivalence

Modernism has had a significant impact on the ways in which performance and criticism are conceptualised in relation to each other, particularly in regard to subjectivisation, representational politics and modes of engagement. In Performing the Body, Performing the Text (1999), Amelia Jones and Andrew Stephenson examine how performance art practices that seek to perform the subject also offer up new ways through which to model interpretation through performativity. The editors argue against a fixing of the work undertaken in the projects of modernist art criticism, valuing a more fluid circulation of meaning in the encounter with performance that constitutes a dynamic form of interpretation. By foregrounding the performative nature of meaning-making (3) and the invested nature of interpretation, Jones and Stephenson make an important case for the ways in which embodiment and performativity act as crucial vehicles for understanding new operations of criticism.

Performing the Body, Performing the Text offers an invaluable insight into the ways in which performativity and embodiment can be considered as strategies for critical engagement that elucidate the very possibility of a critic’s repositioning in direct relationship to the work of art. In the practices that Jones and Stephenson speak of, we note a moving away from equating critical distance with objectivity, a relationship that analytical writing on criticism has historically favoured (Meister 1917; Wardle 1992).

The effects of this re-consideration of criticism’s relationship to meaning-making provides two useful points of consideration: the first, that criticism is constituted by a process that begins with the encounter a critic has to performance, and extends through the activities of interpretation, thought and judgment. Secondly, that inherent in this process is a particular, and political, relationship that criticism has to performance, and that is, one of equivalence and interdependence.  Criticism, in this instance, creates a discourse about performance that is referential to it, but also operates independently of it. The event of criticism is made up of a different architecture than that of performance.

Further context for this discussion can also be found in sociologist Zygmut Bauman’s Legislators and Interpreters: On Modernity, Post-modernity and Intellectuals (1987), which charts the move away from criticism as a practice of cultural legislation to one of cultural interpretation with the advent of postmodernism. Whilst acknowledging that pluralism is not a new experience, Bauman declares that postmodernism brought about an intellectual climate in which “pluralism of experience, values and criteria of truth” refuse to be considered as ‘transitory features of the yet incomplete reality’ (127). Bauman’s contribution points towards the ways in which postmodernism accommodated the growing unease surrounding the universality of aesthetic judgment, and, at the same time, the limits of pure reason. Interpretation comes about as constitutive of communities of interest that cannot hold claim to absolutism, but seek to constitute their critical veracity on positioning, however unacknowledged. Bauman’s study marks an important shift from singular attitudes towards criticism, its scope and ambitions, towards acknowledging the increasing plurality by which it is served more widely.

Yet how might the culture of interpretation manifest itself in relation to performance and criticism? In The Object of Performance: American Avant-Garde Since 1970 (1992), critic Henry Sayre pays attention to the ways in which particular forms of criticism in the late sixties and seventies foregrounded a different relationship to the work of art, one which acknowledged the shift from presence to experience. Taking the examples of Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Sayre proposes that this form of criticism prompted “the audience to confront the artwork in a more conscious, conceptual way” (249). In order to account for this method of engagement, critics acknowledged “their own implication in the work they discuss” (250), defining their activity as one that is inherently performative. Sayre pays particular attention to the ways in which Barthes shifted his mode of critical engagement; in attempting to describe objectively the photograph, he was challenged by his own subjectivity (251). Recent studies of the positioning of criticism into the cultural fabric in both art and performance share this interest in understanding the implications of an embedded cultural operator, dismissing the claims that distance and objectivity are fundamentally constitutive of criticality.

Finally, Gavin Butt’s After Criticism: New Responses to Art and Performance (2005) develops this discourse between the fields of visual art and performance practice. After Criticism seeks to deconstruct and explore the performative turn in critical writing outside of the academy, relying on an articulation of the presence of theatricality in such responses to a vast field of contemporary practice. Butt also outlines the main paradoxes that have historically guided critical practice as those of distance and objectivity. These are reconsidered and superseded by an engagement with notions of embodiment and cultural participation. Butt identifies these as paradoxical for the ways in which they invite a critic’s positioning within the cultural fabric itself, and against the common doxa; he speaks of a criticism “written from the perspective of a spectator immersed in the constructed environments of artistic spectacle” (9). This implication challenges the idea that criticality might only come with distance, citing Derrida’s “paradoxical structure of criticism’s condition of possibility” for the ways in which it is constituted “by the critic’s desire to communicate and be understood within a consensus alongside a coterminous desire to frustrate conventional understandings” (6).

Butt foregrounds several important characteristics of criticism since postmodernism: its need to consider the eventness of performance, its capacity to foreground its own participation in cultural practice without fearing the expense of criticality, and its potential to acknowledge the embodied experience. He develops an understanding of criticism as an activity already engaged in a multiplicity of cultural networks, rather than existing outside it.

This process of mapping has enabled me to evidence how, since postmodernism, there has been a diversification of criticism’s conceptualisation, and relationship to performance practice. This has been made evident in the increasing plurality of practices and approaches that critics take to performance, foregrounding a relationship of equivalence between the two practices, rather than the more traditional processes of mediation and valuation.

In the UK, increasingly, critics are collaborating with artists on projects that tread the line between dramaturgy and criticism, participation and journalism; digital publications, such as Exeunt Magazine,[2] increasingly commission collaborative reviews, long-form, process based features, durational writing projects and curated public events. These different forms of public presence of criticism serve to widen the conversation about the boundaries, strategies and methodologies of the practice, increasingly moving away from binaries that might suggest battles of legitimacy or authority: objective/subjective, media/digital, critic/blogger. Collaborations such as the one I have been undertaking with Spill Festival are contextualised by this dynamic practice, in which the developments articulated by scholarship of criticism in the academy are slowly affecting criticism’s public engagement and formal development.

If we accept that neoliberalism is a “particular organisation of capitalism” characterised by the “systematic use of state power to impose financial market imperatives, in a domestic process that is replicated internationally by globalisation” (Saad-Filho and Johnston 3), then a further context makes itself visible, one that is dangerously legislative and homogenising. Neoliberalism affects the ways in which culture is produced and encountered. Favouring entrepreneurialism, individualisation and instrumentalisation of the arts through participation (Harvie 2013; Bishop 2013), neoliberalism displaces the boundaries between cultural production and consumption and, as a result, invites an urgent reconsideration of the role both performance and criticism can play in activating critical engagement and political emancipation. In the same manner in which theorists like Judith Butler and Isabell Lorey remind us of the precarious communicative processes of contemporary society, in which certain discourses are rendered implausible or even invisible, it is important to consider how criticism might be able to participate in the development of cultures of public deliberation, and, as a result, the new processes of public opinion formation.

Under these conditions oral criticism, as a particular manifestation of the critic in the public sphere, raises questions about performance and theatre as spaces of intellectual and artistic provocation, the role of public debate and the importance of embodiment and critical responsibility. At the same time, performance theory has increasingly been concerned with how, under these political and cultural circumstances in which our consumption and engagement with art changes, meaning-making is produced, favouring a conceptualisation of the performance event that is characterised by instability and fragmentation. It is at the intersection of these two fields that I want to consider orality’s capacity for creating deliberative spaces.

Poppy Jackson. Photo by Manuel VasonDARC
Poppy Jackson. Photo by Manuel VasonDARC
Criticism as event: meaning-making, embodiment and the discursive site

In The Transformative Power of Performance (2008), performance theorist Erika Fischer-Lichte analyses a new aestheticity of performance, occurring in performance practices in which the relationship between “subject and object, observer and observed, spectator and actor is redefined” (17). Fischer-Lichte places emphasis on the evenness of performance, foregrounded against its delineation as an object of art.

When signs and actions can no longer be identified with their referential meanings, a representational shift occurs. “In effect,” she adds ‘objects and actions are no longer dependent on the meanings attributed to them’ (Fischer-Lichte 23). Fischer-Lichte deploys the term autopoietic feedback loop, that is, the meaning-making process by which the performance event is both producer and product, suggesting a recasting of process as pertaining to this fabric of materiality. She designates the form of associative perception in performance as a counterpoint to discourses on spectatorship that assume a logic of equal distribution. She states that “spectators do not distribute their attention equally over all that appears in the space.” Principles of selection that structure both performance and the everyday must “reorganise [themselves] according to different criteria” (165).

Fischer-Lichte proposes that the spectator perceives and generates “corresponding meanings,” as well as is determined by “the processes whenever yielding to the associations, sensations, ideas and thoughts which suddenly appear in their consciousness and which they cannot prevent from appearing” (155). She characterises this experience of the encounter with the event of performance as characterised by “destabilisation,” suspended between the order of representation and that of presence (157). So, spectatorship is increasingly defined by an experience that is liminal, elusive, unstable and embodied.

This account invites a reconsideration of the ways in which we conceptualise criticism and its own processes, as well as its relationship to spectatorship. If during the process of signification, a materiality arises in the encounter between performers and audience, constituted within the event of performance, then this marks our encounter with work. Criticism is not limited to an activity of valuation; it becomes a series of intellectual acts that concern themselves with performance and its discourse—criticism becomes an event with its own poetics and architecture.

If we consider that critical process emerges from our encounter with performance, we find scope to further elaborate on the ways in which it might be possessive of a materiality. This makes itself particularly evident if we think of the critic as a material being in that process, as well as its agent. The critical process is always embodied but, furthermore, it is always constituted through thinking, as an act of temporary removal and interpretation. This results in a material output that does not necessarily close the process, but allows it to unfold in the public realm. I refer to this as the critical output—the material trace of the critical process. Oral forms of criticism are examples of how the critical output emerges in collective processes; instead of a text in which we can examine the ways in which description and analysis interact, oral criticism is verbal and embodied. We become documents of an experience, extending its processes beyond the performance space.

Fischer-Lichte adds that “every attempt to understand a performance retrospectively contributes to the creation of a text which follows its own rules” (160). In this manner, the critical output gains independence in the process of its coming into being. I argue, however, that contrary to this identity, the critical output—which refers to wider forms of articulation of criticism, inclusive of the textual—holds an intrinsic and plural relationship to performance. Fischer-Lichte’s argument signals the importance of understanding the independence of this process of recounting that occurs in any form of criticism, and most evidently through description. I differentiate between the formal and, in this instance, linguistic operations of the critical output. As critics, we have a spectatorial intent that differentiates our experience, but also a subjectivity that belongs to a collective experience. It is these aspects that are negotiated in the critical output, and that become highly visible in oral criticism.

This is an intimate relationship with the performance; it’s an intimacy that traditional forms of criticism tend to critique, for it foregrounds subjectivisation. In oral criticism, this subjectivisation becomes the starting point for a discussion that, in its potential for discursivity, allows and invites the articulation of discourse, making visible the different ideologies of spectatorship and analysis that a critic engages with.

So, could we think of orality in criticism as an extension of the performance event, as a place in which the experience of performance is woven in with criticality? Might this also mean an extension of the event and process of criticism itself, inviting others into the activities of thinking and interpretation? I propose that these aspects might also provide orality with an additionally powerful dimension—that of discursivity and the constitution of public opinion.

Over its two editions taking place in Ipswich (2012, 2014) and London (2011, 2013), part of my role in Spill Festival was to steer a group of young writers in their engagement with the festival’s work, as well as participate in the regular Salons, open get-togethers for artists, participants and passers-by. In 2012, the hub of the festival was located in the Ipswich Town Hall, which acted as the main space for the Salon discussions. These were only lightly moderated, and sought to bring into play some of the writing that I, with the writers, had been producing over the course of the festival, tying these into wider concerns affecting the practice and labour of experimental performance, particularly in a regional context. The still active Town Hall became, for the duration of the festival, a space for a temporary public to gather.

What is particular about Spill and its satellite activities relocated outside of London, is that they encourage the public, participating artists, curators and writers to stay for the duration of the three days and attend the Salon discussions.[3] Given that Ipswich is a small town, this activates a temporary event–it’s not just that we move from one performance to another; we also engage in conversations, staged or spontaneous, and we do so recognisably from our respective positions. Within the context of a neoliberal society in which forms of participation easily become enmeshed in governmental agendas (Bishop 2012) and, as a result, are often ineffective, this temporariness and situatedness became a productive way through which to cultivate critically-oriented discussion, and an informed public opinion on the scope, register, language and intentions of experimental performance work.

As a critic, this context provides you with a particular presence, particularly in the context of the Salon, where the invitation is extended to members of the public as well as artists to work from the writing to ignite conversations. Given that part of the work is from younger artists, who undertake a development process following the festival that results in a shortlist of several works that premiere in London, this poses an additional challenge. The critic has to respond more quickly to context, but also note thematic threads, invite discussion and relevant contextualisation.

It’s clear to me that the intention of Robert Pacitti, the festival’s Artistic Director, is to create a cultural ecology constituted through modes of deliberation; performance is one of his strategies, but he places significant importance on criticism too, very much with the intent of orality as much as textuality—the writers undergo editorial process and their texts go up on a website during the festival, which I manage and curate. The social, performative and deliberative very much become one realm for the duration. And importantly, the festival is curated with a different theme every year, which guides the conversation; in 2012, it was “On Proximity” and in 2014, “On Spirit.”

For Spill, the active displacement of these sites of discourse away from London, where the festival had been operating successfully for several years, show an investment in a belief of the radicality of site. Within the context of a neoliberal society whose political policies have enmeshed such forms of participation in governmental agendas (Bishop 2012), prioritising individual autonomy over collective action, this relocation marks an investment of agency in discourse as a formation of public opinion.

Given its duration and intensity, the festival acted as a space in which the critic become a kind of curator of discourse, working from the encounter with performance and its experiences to try to identify different modes of navigating the content, whilst also inviting wider questions to disturb the unfolding process. Becoming part of this temporary community means that we engage in a different choreography of attention; the line between critical output and process becomes blurred, for nothing is complete or finished. Orality becomes a mode through which criticism performs a closer dialogue with criticality, and it is explicitly collective. Can this be a way to engage with the formation of public opinion, and what role might disagreement play in this?

Zierle Carter, The Swan Song. Photo Guido Mencari
Zierle Carter, The Swan Song. Photo Guido Mencari
Orality: conflict and public opinion

I want to briefly turn to the work of Jürgen Habermas, whose theorisation of the public sphere and public opinion has been fundamental to understanding the development of the press and of public critical practice. Habermas provides a historical narrative to the configuration of issues of authority in political participation in tandem with the development and appropriation of a sphere of political communication. This paved the way for the development of the press, as a mode of communication and decisive marker of the public sphere. Habermas argues that the end of the nineteenth century in Europe marked a depoliticisation and instrumentalisation of the public press. So, already, political practice attacks the very idea of a public sphere independent of it, but engaged with it.

Habermas’s delineation of public opinion connects it to the institution of the state. In the context of modern liberal democracies, he argues, public opinion becomes an instrument of the state. Yet what role does critical engagement play in this scenario? For Habermas, this pertains to instrumentalisation. Public opinion “refers to the tasks of criticism and control which a public body of citizens . . . practices vis-à-vis the ruling structure organised in the form of a state” (Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere 49). In this sense, we can understand public opinion as responding to structural formations.

Habermas scholars Georgia Wanke and Stephen K White provide a helpful argument that traces the roots of this assertion, underpinning this positioning of public opinion as emphasising communicative. They propose that the emphasis remains on “the discursive level of public debates” (12). Habermas’s articulation of public opinion is situated in the context of an administrative culture where interests and competition govern its visibility. This contribution, oriented in democratic theory, provides an appropriate context for my discussion of criticism.

We speak of criticism as a field of practice whose agents engage in transactions; these transactions occur in the public sphere; contemporary culture and its communicative processes have been affected by the rise of the internet, as well as the diversification of critical practice. So, what role might temporary spaces constructed through oral criticism have of creating spaces that are deliberative, and less easily instrumentalised in processes of marketisation? Habermas’s study on the public sphere provides a way to understand the origins of such a proposition. We have already noted that deliberation is not apolitical in criticism; it is in equal manner affected by neoliberalism and its operations. Habermas introduces the idea of critical publicity, located in public spaces where deliberation occurs. Although Habermas places emphasis on consensus as a mode through which critical publicity is formed, I find limited value in consensus for the ways in which it presupposes a homogenisation.[4] So, the same doxa that critics attempt to distance themselves from can be understood as a culture of consensus; this results in normativised discourse, something I wish to problematise here.

Habermas suggests that public opinion, formed through consensus within a public sphere, must remain outside of the mechanics of the state and corporate capital in order to maintain critical efficacy. My argument departs from this assertion, building on the core idea of disagreement as fundamental to deliberation. Neoliberalism has resulted in a co-option of criticism into mechanisms of legitimation and marketing. If there is, however, no outside of the state, then what happens to the building of public opinion?

Theorist Davide Panagia provides a vehicle to further access the ways in which criticism features explicitly in Habermas’s work. He introduces the performative contradiction, and I note in this term a way of understanding how normative ethics contradicts an ideal speech situation in its entailment of acceptance. For Panagia, a performative contradiction “is a moral norm built into the structure of communication and, as such, asserts its normative status when thinking goes awry” (Panagia 104). Through the performative contradiction, Habermas ascribes power to validity claims and, as Panagia also shows, the assertiveness of truth and sincerity as operatives of the mechanisms of communication. I propose that the performative contradiction offers the possibility of disagreement

In returning to Habermas’s historical examination, Panagia locates the formation of publicity in the commitment to argument as constitutive of communities. I have already discussed this when analysing the origins of the public sphere in Habermas. Yet, Panagia accounts for Habermas’s identification of aesthetic criticism as the domain from which the principle of publicity first arises. He also points towards the ways in which “the eighteenth century art critic’s attempt to explain their judgment of taste by the force of the better argument counts, for Habermas, as a form of protest against authoritarian rule” (107). On the one hand, then, we have a problematic normative ethics whose danger is to legislate public opinion, but, on the other, Habermas also offers a mode of expression through this engagement that is aesthetically and representationally constructed through and in the social body.

The answer lies with a different reading of the performative contradiction that enables the political and aesthetic dimension of collective deliberation. If we resituate the notion of publicity into a contemporary context in which market-driven and influenced mechanisms of knowledge and communication occur in their plurality,[5] the possibility of disagreement opens up.

In other words, oral criticism cannot function within a context in which it enacts operations that are normative and monological; so, the critic cannot perform acts that are authoritative or legislative; her role unfolds on the basis of subjectivity, and through the differentiations she can provide which then act as territories of discussion.

I turn to Nancy Fraser and her critique of Habermas to further explain this. Fraser points not only to a fundamental gender bias inherent in Habermas’s work, but also to the displacement of conditions that characterise modern democracies. Fraser’s aim is to critique existing theories of the public sphere in order to restore its critical edge (Couldry, qtd. in Fraser, “Institutionalising” 56). She theorises multiplicity in relation to the formation of public opinion, underlining the potential for restoring disagreement within this landscape through an emphasis on appearance and connection.

Fraser provides a significant point of departure for a reassessment of Habermas’s construct of public opinion, drawing on the role multiplicity plays in democracies, particularly in the latter half of the twentieth century. In her view, Habermas’s account provides a singular view of the “institutional confinement of public life” (“Politics, Culture and the Public Sphere” 66). Fraser proceeds to examine publics as multiples in the context of both stratified and multicultural egalitarian societies. To her, public opinion emerges within the public sphere and “transcends the mere sum of individual preferences” (“Politics, Culture and the Public Sphere” 72).

Habermas’s proposes that, through deliberation, the public articulates matters of concern and questions its own constitution. Yet, if its existence cannot be presumed, deliberation becomes a more complex territory and mode. Fraser’s critique hinges on the proposition that this view distinguishes the civil society from the state, and as a result “it creates weak publics, publics whose deliberative practice consists exclusively in opinion-formation and does not encompass decision-making” (Rethinking the Public Sphere 75). Importantly to my discussion here, Fraser rehabilitates a potential for publics to hold agency and mobility in the public sphere. Fraser allows an incorporation of accountability and decision-making into the formation of public opinion and its concurrent resistance to doxa.  I propose here that Fraser’s work further supports the role of disagreement as a mode of positioning and constructing publics within the public sphere, as a non-territorial yet deliberative formation in criticism, grounded in the performative contradiction.

What does this mean for criticism? If we are speaking of a series of publics situated within a public sphere whose identity is shifting, threatened by the different mechanisms that constitute and seek to legislate it, then we can regard criticism as occupying different positions. Criticism enables certain publics to convene around questions of common good, whilst fragmenting others. In the context of Spill Festival, the Salons are an example of such a temporary space; and of course, the Salon has a long history in criticism, as it has always provided a potential deliberative space that does not have a sole function. So, we can speak of the embodied critic as an active participant in a cultural ecology, and this is particularly evidenced in orality because of the ways in which it opens up spaces of debate. Could we go as far as claiming that the critic can become, in this instance, a productive agitator?

In Spill Festival, this oral dimension of criticism became most valuable when disagreement took place not over the quality of the work, but over the different frameworks which might be at play in our thinking about it. In this manner, oral criticism became situated, marked by a series of events, engaging with temporary communities. This form of debate takes shape through recollection, and necessarily returns to the experience of performance, connecting it with wider problematics. Oral criticism does not simply cultivate public opinion, it challenges the formation of doxa. For this reason, it cannot be marked by consensus; it is fundamental that the critical strategies deployed in this context constitute modes of productive disagreement.

Certainly in the case of Spill, we had much to learn on how to engage with such processes, whilst navigating subjectivity and critical intent. The curatorial dimension of the festival already fostered a discursive culture, and the intimacy of that can also be problematic, particularly as the public always enter these spaces in a different way to those cultural operators that are already a part of it. But the fact that within its duration, and through the performance encounters, the conversation treaded the experience of the event as much as its meaning, is significant: it restores a way through which to consider criticism’s function without demanding singularity. Expertise can remain important, but a reassessment of practice and its strategies become fundamental in thinking through the ways in which critical output engages in the public sphere.

The first version of this paper was presented at the
15th International Symposium of Theatre Critics and Theatre Scholars, Serbia

Works Cited

Bauman, Zygmut. Legislators and Interpreters: On Modernity, Post-Modernity and Intellectuals. London: Polity, 1987, Print.

Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso, 2012. Print.

Butt, Gavin. After Criticism: New Responses to Art and Performance (New Interventions in Art History). London: Blackwell, 2005. Print.

Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso, 2004. Print.

Calhoun, Craig, ed. Habermas and the Public Sphere. Massachusetts: MIT Press,1992. Print.

Fischer-Lichte, Erika. The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics. London: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Fraser, Nancy. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy.” Social Text 25.25 (1990): 56-80. Print.

—. “Politics, Culture and the Public Sphere: Towards a Postmodern Conception.” Social Postmodernism: Beyond Identity Politics. Ed. Linda Nicholson and Steven Seidamn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.

—. “Institutionalising Democratic Justice: Redistribution, Recognition and Participation.” Pragmatism, Critique, Judgment: Essays for Richard J Bernstein. Ed. Seyla Benhabib and Nancy Fraser. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2004. 125-48. Print.

Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge: Polity, 1989. Print.

—. Communication and the Evolution of Society. Cambridge: Polity, 1991a. Print.

—. The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and Rationalization of Society. Cambridge: Polity, 1991b. Print.

Harvie, Jen. Fair Play: Art, Performance and Neoliberalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.

Jones, Amelia, and Andrew Stephenson, eds. Performing the Body, Performing the Text. London: Routledge, 1999. Print.

Lorey, Isabell. State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious. London: Verso, 2015. Print.

Meister, Charles. Dramatic Criticism: A History. London: McFarland & Company, 1917. Print.

Mouffe, Chantal. “Deliberative Democracy or Agnostic Pluralism.” Political Science Series 12 (2002). Institut für Höhere Studien (IHS), Wien Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna. Web. 10 June 2015.  <https://www.ihs.ac.at/publications/pol/pw_72.pdf>

—. Hegemony, Radical Democracy and the Political.  London: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Panagia, Davide.  The Poetics of Political Thinking. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006. Print.

Rancière, Jacques. Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy. Trans. Julie Rose. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Print.

—. Chronicles of Consensual Times. Trans. Steven Corcoran. London: Continuum, 2010a. Print.

Saad-Filho, Alfredo, and Deborah Johnston. Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader. London: Pluto Press, 2005. Print.

Sayre, Henry. The Object of Performance: American Avant-Garde Since 1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Print.

Wanke, Georgia. “Communicative Rationality and Cultural Values.” The Cambridge Companion to Habermas. Ed. Stephen K White. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Print.

Wardle, Irving. Theatre Criticism. London: Routledge, 1992. Print.


Diana Damian

*Diana Damian Martin is a London-based performance critic and writer. She is Performance Editor of Exeunt Magazine, co-founder of Writingshop, a collaborative, pan-European project examining the processes and politics of contemporary critical practice, and works as a Lecturer in Performance Arts at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

[1] You can see some of the writing that myself and others developed during the course of Spill Festival 2014 here: http://spillfestival.com/spill-writing/

[2] Exeunt Magazine was founded in 2010 as a space for high quality, formally-daring criticism on theatre and performance. As a member of the editorial board, we sought to cultivate a plurality of approaches to criticism, whilst maintain rigor and criticality. www.exeuntmagazine.com

[3] This is most evident in their ticketing system, which encourages 1,2 and 3 day passes rather than individual bookings; in Ipswich, the Tow Hall also becomes an important place in which the public are invited to debate and discuss, whilst having the opportunity to browse through an archive of experimental performance work and scholarship.

[4] Political philosophers Jacques Rancière and Chantal Mouffe have discussed the limits of consensus under neoliberalism at great length. See the Works Cited for a list of relevant works.

[5] For example, the emergence of the digital as a legitimate space for criticism, tied to questions around its efficacy as a site of debate and participation.

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Deliberation, Embodiment and Oral Criticism: A Case Study on Spill Festival of Performance