Theatre at the Impasse: Political Theology and Blitz Theatre Group's Late Night
Keywords:Jean-Luc Nancy, Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, decision, love, impasse, politics, allegory, state of exception
This essay describes a performance by the Greek theatre collective, Blitz Theatre – Late Night – as constituting a theatrical response to current political crises in Europe. What I call a ‘theatre of the impasse’ seeks to bear witness to the experience of impasse, where impasse and crisis must be fundamentally distinguished. Impasse is revealed where crisis admits of no decision adequate to the situation; and, correspondingly, where theatre loses faith in the power of decision to resolve its conflicts. I situate these claims with reference to Carl Schmitt’s and Walter Benjamin’s dispute over political theology, arguing that a theatre of the impasse might be thought as an ‘allegorical’ theatre in Benjamin’s terms. Blitz Theatre’s Late Night reveals, thereby, the concealed truth of the impasse: a founding human sociality experienced as world immanence. In doing so doing, I argue, this theatre frustrates every hope for the kind of political theology of the stage envisaged by Schmitt. I read the performance, instead, as an elegy to Nancy’s inoperative community, at the centre of which are the figure of lovers, bound to, yet unable to take possession of, one another. Staging impasse, Late Night allegorises the fragile human community, exposed in its fundamental precarity.
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