In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews RICHARD SCHECHNER. Performance Studies: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2002. Pp. x + 288, illustrated. $41.95 (Pb). Reviewed by Jill Dolan, University o/Texas at Austin Schechner's textbook Performance Studies: An Introduction provides a welcome addition to a field that has intentionally defined itself loosely for the last twenty-odd years. For those teaching performance studies, Schechner tells a lively history, engages the multiple discourses that have produced the field (and vice versa), and lays out precise, useful methods for thinking about or applying performance studies' various theories and practices. Schechner identifies himself as the field's progenitor, and this rather patriarchal authority is only sometimes chafing. For the most part, Schechner's erudite, encyclopedic knowledge of world performance forms and their study gives the reader a wide range of examples, a deep level of detail, and a refreshingly invested, often polemical argument about what it might mean to be a theorist or practitioner of the field he introduces. The range of Schechner's examples and his often first-hand reporting on performance practices from around the world make the textbook exciting and sometimes even urgent. The examples paint a sharply outlined picture of the world and performance circa 200 I, when the book was completed, and Schechner refers conscientiously and ethically to topical events. In his final chapter on "Global and Intercultural Performance," he includes, in a section entitled "Terrorism and Performance," a full-page photograph of the World Trade Center's twin towers billowing with smoke, and he reiterates the events of the day, concluding that "September IJth was almost immediately translated into a global spectacle of awesomely televisable clips" (265). Schechner's critical, clearly progressive attention to political issues lends the textbook vigor and verve, while at the same time making for some curious Modern Drama, 46:2 (Summer 2003) 305 306 REVIEWS juxtapositions and odd textual insertions. For example, in the globalization chapter, Osama Bin Laden's biography appears above President Bush's, in a shaded gray box (267), and Schechner uses another box to define "anthrax" (265). Likewise, in his chapter "Performing," Schechner includes a briefbiography of Timothy McVeigh, whom he describes as an "American terrorist" (179). This collision of performance, the performative, and politics is sometimes bracing and sometimes jarring. I admire Schechner's desire to gather everything in the world under the umbrella of performance studies, but I also often frown at the strange companions who wind up sheltered there. Unlike most textbook authors, who remain obscured by the information their work makes available, Schechner introduces his perspective and his "self' in the very first chapter. He insists immediately, "[TJhe field is wide open. There is no finality to performance studies, either theoretically or operationally " (I). He then goes on to announce his own identity, sharing the "values , theories, and practices of a certain field of scholarship as understood by one particular person in the seventh decade of his life. This person is a Jewish Hindu Buddhist atheist living in New York City, married, and the father of two children" (I). He includes a brief curriculum vitae to establish his professional credentials (he "has traveled and worked in many parts of the world" [I]) and admits readily that the narrative he spins will be shaped by his own experiences and commitments. While I admire Schechner's effort to destabilize himself as the sole authority over the field, the textbook genre itself thwarts his plan and ultimately reinscribes him as the "author-god," not just of the text, but in many ways of performance studies. He finds examples of the field and its methods embodied almost everyWhere, charting an intellectual trend that is quickly revising the language of theatre studies to incorporate the connotatively sexier, fresher. apparently more capacious "performance studies." He presents a selective, necessarily unscientific sampling of "full-fledged performance studies departments or programs" (5) that canonizes some institutions over others. As a result, the genesis narrative Schechner tells, cemented by its authorization as "textbook," too quickly forgets its own partiality and too easily elides theorists . practitioners, and institutions that don't make his eclectic list of references (which includes, of course, his department and his colleagues at New York University...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5286
Print ISSN
0026-7694
Pages
pp. 305-308
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.