Quorum: QMUL Theatre and Performance Research Series 2018-2019

We would like to thank our speakers, the Queen Mary staff, and everyone who supported our sessions this year!

Quorum will return in September 2019 with a new committee and an exciting new programme of academic seminars.

Best wishes from the committee:
Vanessa MacAulay, Genna Gardini, Sarah Harper, and Tatjana Kijaniza

Wednesday 27th March 2019 


Nicholas Ridout

 Complex Smoking: Brecht, Tobacco and Bourgeois Philosophy



This paper explores a contradiction in Bertolt Brecht’s image of the ideal spectator as someone who watches while smoking. The contradiction lies in the fact that Brecht’s conception of such a spectator appears to depend upon an entirely bourgeois conception of knowledge, but is deployed as part of an attempt to produce a new and anti-bourgeois theatre. The exploration of this apparent contradiction moves by way of a consideration of the history of tobacco’s transatlantic transculturation. This exploration offers an opportunity to retrieve a history of the refunctioning of a social practice which Brecht’s smoker simultaneously promises and conceals. It suggests that attending to this forgetting might be one way of producing an alternative epistemology for the theatrical spectator.


Nicholas Ridout studied at Cambridge University and has a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London. He is currently Professor of Theatre at Queen Mary University of London, where he has taught since 2002. He is the author of Stage Fright, Animals and Other Theatrical Problems(Cambridge University Press, 2006), Theatre & Ethics (Palgrave, 2009) and Passionate Amateurs: Theatre, Communism and Love (Michigan, 2013). He is the co-author, with Claudia Castellucci, Romeo Castellucci, Chiara Guidi and Joe Kelleher, of The Theatre of Societas Raffaello Sanzio(Routledge 2007) and co-editor, with Joe Kelleher, of Contemporary Theatres in Europe(Routledge, 2006). His new book, Scenes from Bourgeois Life, is currently in preparation.

Wednesday 27 March 2019, 18.00

RR2 Arts One Building (Mile End Campus)

Everyone welcome

Refreshments will be served

Free admission

Facebook event




With best wishes,

QUORUM Committee 2018-19

Vanessa MacAulay, Genna Gardini, Sarah Harper, Tatjana Kijaniza


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