A conversation between an emerging theatre artist (Mariah Horner) and a Queen’s University professor (Grahame Renyk), this article analyzes Stones in the Woods, a production mounted in 2014 by Mariah’s historical and site-specific company, the Cellar Door Project. The production was performed around a stone in a park that was originally a part of Kingston’s nineteenth-century observatory. Drawing inspiration from thing theory (as discussed in Performing Objects and Theatrical Things, edited by Marlis Schweitzer and Joanne Zerdy) and Pierre Nora’s work on lieux de mémoire, Mariah and Grahame discuss how the performance treats the stone as an actant, equal in status to the human actors. By foregrounding the stone in its “thingness,” the performance highlights its material longevity and reveals its presence in actor networks past, present, and since. Clear threads are tied from the past, through the stories in between, and into the present, reconnecting audiences with a sense of historical continuum at the site. Distinguishing the Cellar Door Project’s work as a rematerialization rather than a reanimation of history, Mariah and Grahame discover that this kind of work may be a more effective approach than re-enactment for connecting ourselves with those who came before.


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pp. 59-63
Launched on MUSE
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