Happily Ever After ... ? 

A day of performance research, discussion and celebration

Saturday 22 April 2006
London Metropolitan University

Happily Ever After...?

The Facility's second symposium explored the place and role of narrative in performance within modernism, postmodernism and trans-modernism.

It hoped to draw on the constantly emerging interest in performance narratives within both the performance industry and academia. In recent years both scholars and practitioners have frequently addressed issues relating to the function, role, value and place of narratives within performance. This has raised a number of issues and questions for debate. Happily Ever After…? introduced, investigated and explored some of these questions through hosting diverse performance based responses, discussions and talks.

The day opened with a stimulating and provocative key note speech from playwright, novelist and academic Deborah Levy entitled:
Where do we want 21st Century narratives to take us?
How do we want to be transported?
which contextualized the days work in relation to her ideas about narrative. It included a wonderfully imaginative personification of narrative.

During the day delegates watched 5 performance pieces: Hotel Methuselah which successfully experimented with the formal properties of theatre and cinema in order to examine the traumatic effect that violence produces in contemporary culture; orange love which combined text, movement, music and live and recorded projection to tells the story of two male lovers over the entire duration of their relationship, from first meeting to final parting - twenty years of narrative time; Nye Tand, Eh? which attempted to reinvent aspects of opera - (firstly there is no text, and secondly the orchestra is optional); PIET(R)A which drew on the now extant Salentine ritual practices of tarantism and the prefica, collaging fragments of dream, memory & myth and juxtaposing visual & verbal/ written imagery as cryptic counterpoints to, rather than direct illustrations of, a fundamental fable; and Ophelia's Song which aimed to re-discover Ophelia's hidden narrative function by foregrounding her awareness in relation to the tragic fate faced by Hamlet.

The day ended with discussions about all five pieces and the place of narrative within 21century performance in general, and a plenary. Placing the performances in relation to each other allowed delegates to reflect on them as a body of work and allow them to inform each other. We placed the work in the context of a series of research questions which informed the discussions.

  • ''The Body is, in the first place, the medium of all perception.' (Edmund Husserl). To what extent can it be argued that new technologies de-humanise narrative? Has technology prompted a new approach to weaving narratives?
  • What is the role/effect of visual and physical performative means/media in constructing narrative(s)today?
  • What is the relation between intertextual elusiveness and narrative in a multilayered performance?
  • Are the notion of postmodern fragmentation and transmodern intertextuality compatible with narrative? Have new forms of narratives evolved from the postmodern fragmenting of text?
  • How does structure evolve without narrative?

To listen to audio recordings of these discussions please click on the links below:

Discussion 1
Discussion 2
Discussion 3

The Facility also explored an interest in developing original ways of documenting performance work by commissioning Live Artist Ernst Fischer to make a piece of live performance on the day which documented PIET( R )A.

The symposium was attended by over 60 academics and practitioners and involved over 50 contributors who participated in the whole day. The day was a celebration of performance which also asked serious and important research questions about the work.


Key Note Speaker:
Deborah Levy

Hotel Methuselah:
Andrew Quick
Pete Brooks

Helen Spackman
Fabrizio Manco

Jesse Schwenk
Sam Miller
Sean Tuan John

Ophelia''s Song:
Jacek Ludwig Scarso
Daisy Whyte

Nye Tand, Eh?:
Paul Barker
Francis M. Lynch
James Meek.

Remains of the Day:
Ernst Fischer

Claire Hodgson
Gian Carlo Rossi
Gianandrea Poesio
Colin Counsell

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