There Are Plenty of Businesses like Show Business: Launch Event for ‘Marxist Keywords for Performance’ — 20 October 2021, 7:30 PM (BST) with a soft start at 7 PM

This year we return to QUORUM with a research group Performance and Political Economy.

This year, we will be hosting events both online and in person whenever possible. Tickets are free but please RSVP.

For in person ticket, click here.

For online ticket, click here.

Theatre and performance studies is awash with scholarship that examines performance in relation to its labour processes, modes of management, financial infrastructures, and so forth. But there lacks shared critical understanding of what terms such as “value” or “capital” mean and how they can be applied when studying performance forms like theatre, dance, or live art. The range of meanings that performance scholars attach to the word “commodity” or even the seemingly obvious entities of “class” and “the state,” for example, reveals more than a slight degree of imprecision or disagreement. It indicates a lack of systematic thought and, consequently, a need to interrogate the categories used for discussing performance’s political economy. 

Collectively written by nine people, “Marxist Keywords for Performance” (2021) contributes to growing critical attention within theatre and performance studies towards political economy by defining key Marxist concepts and exploring how they can be applied to study performance. Ahead of our project’s publication in a joint issue of The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism and Global Performance Studies: GPS, this presentation introduces our aims in writing the keywords and reflects on the collective research, carried out in the midst of the pandemic, that went into them. As Tithi Bhattacharya (2017) reminds us, the aim of any critique of political economy should be to “restore to the ‘economic’ process its messy, sensuous, gendered, raced, and unruly component: living human beings capable of following orders—as well as of flouting them.” A critique of the political economy of performance, as we understand it, should have this same goal.

About Performance and Political Economy

Performance and Political Economy (PPE) began meeting as a monthly seminar in London in May 2018. This iteration of our keywords project has nine contributors, but our collaborative research process involves input from the wider collective. The contributors to “Marxist Keywords for Performance” are: Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal, Shane Boyle, Ash Dilks, Caoimhe Mader McGuinness, Olive Mckeon, Lisa Moravec, Alessandro Simari, Clio Unger, Martin Young.

The presentation will be delivered in person and online by Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal (Birkbeck), Shane Boyle (Queen Mary), Caoimhe Mader McGuinness (Kingston), and Martin Young (Anglia Ruskin).

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Echoes of Elsewhere? From archaeoacoustics to sonic cyberfeminisms

Dr. Annie Goh

Lecturer in XD Pathway in BA Fine Art at CSM, Associate Lecturer in Sound Arts at LCC

Thursday 24th of June 2021
7:30pm soft start, 8pm presentation

Zoom event – Free admission – We welcome interest from the public, link on request via our Twitter account on @QuorumQMUL or our email address queenmaryquorum@hotmail.co.uk.

Echoes of Elsewhere? From archaeoacoustics to sonic cyberfeminisms

In this talk I trace the figure of echo as a material-semiotic figuration from archaeoacoustics and sonic knowledge production and explore it within the ongoing Sonic Cyberfeminisms project (with Dr Marie Thompson, since 2015). Using examples from archaeoacoustics, I reconceptualise echo as a feminist and decolonial sonic figuration and theorise an aural gnosis to address alternative modalities of knowing through sound and listening. What examples of such a re-conceived echo can one locate in the interrelations of sound, gender, technology of sonic cyberfeminisms?

Biography:

Dr Annie Goh is an artist and researcher working primarily with sound, space, electronic media and generative processes within their social and cultural contexts. She completed her PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2019 on archaeoacoustics and sonic knowledge production, where she was also a Stuart Hall Foundation PhD Fellow. She co-curated the discourse program of CTM Festival Berlin 2013-2016 and is co-founder of the Sonic Cyberfeminisms project since 2015 with Dr Marie Thompson. She is a Lecturer in XD Pathway in BA Fine Art at CSM and an Associate Lecturer in Sound Arts at LCC.

Virtual Spring QUORUM events will be generally held on the third Thursday of every month, via Zoom. Invites will be emailed to members of the School of English and Drama. We welcome interest from the public, link on request via our Twitter account on @QuorumQMUL or our email address queenmaryquorum@hotmail.co.uk.

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Hear for You: Digital Assistants, Smart Speakers and Listening work

Dr. Marie Thompson

PhD Researcher The Open University

Thursday 27th of May 2021
7:30pm soft start, 8pm presentation

Zoom event – Free admission – We welcome interest from the public, link on request via our Twitter account on Twitter account on @QuorumQMUL or our email address queenmaryquorum@hotmail.co.uk.

Hear for You: Digital Assistants, Smart Speakers and Listening work

Beginning with an advert for Amazon’s Alexa called ‘sharing is caring’, this talk addresses the ‘listening work’ of digital assistants and smart speakers. Where previous scholarship has typically focused on the feminized voice of Alexa, Siri and similar technologies, I suggest that smart speakers and digital assistants amplify the centrality of listening to feminized, reproductive, and affective labour.

At the same time, I caution against overstating the similarities between, on the
one hand, digital assistants and smart speakers, and on the other, secretaries, housewives, carers and domestic servants. An exclusive focus on the digital assistant’s representational logics and participation in household activities risks concealing the ways that these technologies rely on multiple kinds of labour: including Foxconn factory workers that manufacture the devices, Amazon’s global review team who ‘listen in’ on recorded audio clips, and the user themselves. An attention to listening, I argue, helps connect the gendered imaginaries of smart speakers and digital assistants to their political economic logics.

Biography:

Dr. Marie Thompson is a musicologist, sound thinker and maker currently teaching at The Open University.

Virtual Spring QUORUM events will be generally held on the third Thursday of every month, via Zoom. Invites will be emailed to members of the School of English and Drama. We welcome interest from the public, link on request via our Twitter account on @QuorumQMUL or our email address queenmaryquorum@hotmail.co.uk.

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Abstraction and repetition: Procedures to observe reality

David Atencio

PhD Researcher University of São Paulo

Thursday 6th of May 2021
7:30pm soft start, 8pm presentation

Zoom event – Free admission – We welcome interest from the public, link on request via our Twitter account on Twitter account on @QuorumQMUL or our email address queenmaryquorum@hotmail.co.uk.

Abstraction and repetition: Procedures to observe reality

Following the trajectory of Tercer Abstracto (Third Abstract), Chilean/Brazilian research project on the artistic avant-gardes, David Atencio will explain his methodology and ethics of creation as a theatre director. Focusing on the application of scientific thought on theatre, which crosses through mathematics and physics, he will articulate the possibilities of abstraction and repetition as procedures to observe reality.

Biography:

David Atencio has a BA in Acting and an MA in Theatrical Studies and Practices from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He specialised in the field of Philosophy of Science, studying in the Institute of Philosophy and Sciences of Complexity in Chile, where he obtained diplomas in Complex Thought and Cognitive Sciences. His research centres on ‘abstract theatre’, which develops in the dialogue between Visual Arts, Theatre and Science.

Atencio has a vast practice as a theatre director. He founded the company Tercer Abstracto in 2012, which has exhibited pieces at renowned national and international festivals as well as participated in artistic residences, such as The Watermill Center in the USA, and university research-creation circuits in Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

He is a teacher of Theatre History at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile since 2015 and is currently a doctoral researcher in Performing Arts at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where he investigates the influence of the Bauhaus and the Oskar Schlemmer Theatre on modernist thinking, studying their practices and theorising on their methods.

Find Tercer Abstracto on their website and Instagram account.

Virtual Spring QUORUM events will be generally held on the third Thursday of every month, via Zoom. Invites will be emailed to members of the School of English and Drama. We welcome interest from the public, link on request via our Twitter account on @QuorumQMUL or our email address queenmaryquorum@hotmail.co.uk.

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