Drama and Desire: Theorising entangled performance practice
Keywords:Sign, stage and psyche, borromean knots in performance, bedside theatre, ecologies of entanglement
From Plato’s erotic symposium, through sex and death on Early Modern British stages, to Freud’s venture beyond pleasure, the ludic practice of plays and playing has long been associated with desire. This paper theorises that association for the first time, to propose an affiliation between stage and psyche. If we think of Freud’s obsession with Oedipus it is obvious that psychoanalysis has always leaned on drama; but when we read drama through the lens of desire, the relationship between drama and psychoanalysis becomes more structurally precise. It is as if Freud had modelled his topology of the psyche, directly upon the three carefully curated spaces at the Theatre of Dionysus. Reading stage-as-psyche allows us to explore the complex psycho-social connexions that take place in dramatized space in new ways. The paper maps Lacan’s reading of Borromean knots onto the stage to explore how the auditorial gaze, staged voice, and obscene backstage soundscape interconnect; and how they can be activated and suppressed in various dramatic and applied performance practices to generate startlingly different states of subjectivity. The paper offers fresh insight into how performance can position us to be creative, or receptive, in relation to culture, with important implications for artists who want to challenge anthropocentric practices.
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