Transmission in Motion


22 January 2020
15:00 - 17:00
Grote Zaal, Muntstraat 2A

“Ecologising Theatricality: Theatre and the Earth” – Prof. dr. Carl Lavery (University of Glasgow)

Where much ecological criticism in the Arts and Humanities extolls the virtues of ‘storied matter’, ‘entangled narratives’ and ‘earthly stories’, this talk looks instead to the ecocritical potential inherent in a different mode of biosemiosis: namely, theatricality. By teasing out and ecologising the meaning of that strange, restless term, Carl aims to outline an alternative pedagogy for contemporary theatre practices – one that replaces an ‘indexicality of absence’ with a different kind of earthly presence. In this pedagogy, there is no need to point beyond the theatre to the earth, as much extant work in eco-performance tends to do. Rather, as Carl sees it, ecological transmission is inherent to the very act of theatre’s ambiguous and ambidextrous insistence on ‘taking place’. The point, in other words, is to de-form, not to prescribe.

Carl Lavery is a Professor of Theatre at the University of Glasgow. He has written numerous books and articles on theatre and ecology, including: a special edition of Performance Research ‘On Animism’ (2019) (with Mischa Twitchen); Performance and Ecology: What Can Theatre Do (2018); and Rethinking the Theatre of the Absurd: Ecology, Environment and the Greening of the Modern Stage (2015). He has also made the following films and performance about bodies, performance and landscape: Drifting with Debord (2019; with David Archibald) and Return to Battleship Island (2013; with Lee Hassall). He is currently working on a 2 volume book project: Theatre and the Earth: Interrogating the Human; and Constellations of the Anthropocene. Both look to advance a new theory of theatricality and ecology.