Fabric Philosophy: The “Texture” of Theatricality and Performativity


  • Teemu Paavolainen University of Tampere




theatricality and performativity, Tim Ingold, Stephen C. Pepper, meshwork and network, metaphor, texture, weaving


As metaphors of human existence, the idioms of theatricality and performativity both fluctuate between values of novelty and normativity: theatricality, between the essence of an art form and a cultural value variously opposed or embraced, performativity, between doing and dissimulation. To revert from drawing too sharp boundaries, either between the two phenomena or between their cognate art forms and everyday life, the article pursues to analyse them in “textural” terms specifically inspired by Tim Ingold’s ecological anthropology and Stephen C. Pepper’s philosophical pragmatism from the 1940s. Where Ingold’s ecology of lines admits to “no insides or outsides,” “trailing loose ends in every direction,” Pepper’s “contextualistic world” of events admits “no top nor bottom” to its strands and textures. After introducing Ingold’s networks of connected objects and meshworks of interwoven lines as shorthand terms for specifically theatrical and performative textures, their various dynamics are considered in terms of absorption and abstraction: on a global scale – I briefly consider the Anthropos(c)ene as theatrum mundi – seeing all the world as a stage indeed depends on something of a theatrical inversion of its lines of becoming. From the tensions of novelty and normativity, noted above, what emerges is a fabric philosophy of weaving and zooming between overlapping textures: if the performative names a dramaturgy of becoming, then the theatrical provides an optic for its analysis.

Author Biography

Teemu Paavolainen, University of Tampere

Teemu Paavolainen is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Practice as Research in Theatre, University of Tampere. His Theatre/Ecology/Cognition: Theorizing Performer-Object Interaction in Grotowski, Kantor, and Meyerhold was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012. He has just finished the draft manuscript for another research monograph, tentatively titled Texture: Theatricality and Performativity from a Dramaturgical Perspective. Work on this project, including this article, has been generously funded by the Academy of Finland and the Finnish Cultural Foundation.


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How to Cite

Paavolainen, T. (2017). Fabric Philosophy: The “Texture” of Theatricality and Performativity. Performance Philosophy, 2(2), 172–188. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.2264