In her eloquent review of Stephen Johnson's edited collection Tyranny of Documents: The Performing Arts Historian as Film Noir Detective, featured in these pages, Roberta Barker begins by stressing the aptness of the simile Johnson employs to describe the work of the performing arts historian. The historian as film noir detective, pursued by "nagging questions," "stumbling in the shadowlands of recalcitrantly unclear, incomplete, or even absent documents," she writes, captures the work of the researcher who struggles to "reconstruct vanished moments of performance from incomplete and often inconsistent traces" (98).
The simile also captures the drives that propel the detective-historian's work—drives that reveal why the detective genre has served psychoanalytic inquiry, as Jacques Lacan's reflections on Edgar Allan Poe or Slavoj Žižek's on Hitchcock attest. The researcher's process of retrospective reconstruction, it could be argued, points to a fundamentally psychoanalytic dynamic. The elusive document or persistent question, like the purloined letter, becomes the petit objet 'a', which must perforce remain unfulfillable—or unanswerable—since both the detective and the search would cease to exist without it. But like the vertiginous narrative of a Paul Auster novel, there is also something in the sleuthing and the search that turns back in on the detective herself, that becomes a mirror of the investigator's own desires or, as Alenka Zupancic puts it, that reminds her of "some uncanny dimension of [her] own desire, of the mortal feature of the Thing around which [her] desire circulates" (97). Each of the review and view pieces featured in these pages benefits from the self-reflexive reconstructions of their authors and reveals investigations generated by the unremitting persistence of "the Thing" that drives their inquiries.
As a researcher and creator of community-based theatre and performance for social change, Sonja Kuftinec takes an incisive look at Alan Filewod's Committing Theatre, winner of the 2012 Ann Saddlemyer Award by the Canadian Association of Theatre Research. Filewod's work is the product of his own indefatigable pursuit of elusive—and tyrannical—archives. As Kuftinec reminds us, Filewod's "richly resourced" investigation is driven by "his own [End Page 94] passionate activism," and it's an investigation that begins with a reflexive account of an inherited artifact in his own home, that, according to Kuftinec, introduces "the tensions that undergird Filewod's historiographic reclamation of what variously terms theatre of political intervention, refusal, and (95).
Lisa O'Connell of Pat the Dog Playwright Centre an insider's view of the development of First Dance, workshop performance that effectively queers ballroom and interrogates constructions of masculinity in the The impetus for First Dance, O'Connell tells us, came desire to investigate the powerful affective response generated by two men dancing the repertoire of ballroom and scrutinize the assumptions behind the questions that arose she first witnessed the two men move seamlessly in and lead, each taking and relinquishing control in turn— questions that drove the devising process.
From her position as a translator and director, Birgit Schreyer-Duarte examines how Volcano Theatre's production German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig's The Golden at Theatre Passe Muraille incited a self-reflective on the pleasures of cultural transfer and "the double cultural imports afford when they exist in "(productive unproductive) tension" with the target culture (102). Theatre's production denied her the " 'detective' pleasure" (102) such imports often offer to the translator, since postdramatic placelessness and the shifting positionalities ensemble captured a transnational, global reality that obscured the translation's movement between a source and culture.
And finally, in her reflections on Theatre Calgary's production of Lucy Prebble's Enron, Nicole Edge finds the theatricality of the mockumentary musical well-suited to of capturing the fantastical world of business, "where and perception create inflated stock value" (105), yet paradoxically realist in its depiction of the corrupt world of business—a world with which she is intimately familiar chartered accountant. "It was like the playwright, Lucy Prebble, took a recorder and played back a memory," Edge The production compelled Edge to consider its particular resonances in Calgary, known in financial circles as Houston of the North," and...