Cover

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Title page, Series page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

From California to Massachusetts to Florida and back again, I have been fortunate to call a number of extraordinary places home while writing this book. I am indebted to my current and former colleagues at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Florida State University, Amherst College...

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1. Introduction: The Futures of Performance

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pp. 1-24

During his tenure as secretary of defense in the administration of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld’s mastery of circumlocution achieved the highest states of obfuscation. Like carefully constructed koans, his statements gave the impression of an answer while holding any assignable meaning in...

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2. Dramatic Possibility

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pp. 25-53

If, as the poet Paul Valéry said, “one of the deepest, one of the most general functions of living organisms is to look ahead, to produce future,” then the theater is arguably the most established aesthetic site for the human organism to play out such production.³ The entire theatrical apparatus, from its...

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3. Withholding Potentiality

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pp. 54-93

To “ensure that everything in life has a consequence,” that all labor bears some fruit of knowledge, is to make everything an action progressing toward a certain end outside of itself. This prefigures the future, denies life to motions and means that do not live up to our expectations. Echoing Benjamin...

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4. Beholding Potentiality

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pp. 94-132

Who am I to witness or write of potentiality and its many futures? Who can look long into the abyss without becoming a monster, a fool, or a caricature?
Consider once more how the stilled stance and formulaic statements of the eponymous copyist from Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” produced...

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5. Actualizing Potentiality

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pp. 133-185

I have looked extensively at work that suspends potentiality as a deferred promise for future becomings, and I have caught myself in the act of looking. As an absolute calm that any difference would disturb, these conceptions of potentiality veer precariously close to passivity or, as that which can only be...

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6. Preferring Not to End

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pp. 186-200

We are going to find out where the theater ends.
So say the two men to the one woman in the final moments of Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never. by Matthew Goulish and Lin Hixson’s performance company Every house has a door.
“Selma,” says Stephen...

Notes

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pp. 201-240

Bibliography

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pp. 241-252

Index

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pp. 253-260