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What is performance? What makes theatre different from the other arts?

Eric Bentley (a theatre scholar perhaps best known for translating Brecht into English) defined drama as “A personifying B watched by C.” Peggy Phelan, a performance studies scholar at Stanford University, says live performance is different than, say, a painting or a novel because it “becomes itself through disappearance” – in other words, it is unique because it exists only in the present, and as soon as it is recorded or written down it becomes something else entirely. Yet neither of these definitions seem to apply to Portraits in Motion. Who, for instance, is being impersonated? And does it matter that the people that the performance seems to be about – the people in the photographs – are known to us only as Gerling has recorded their faces and told their stories? If performance is about presence, in other words – the presence of the performer, the presence of time – who is present and what is the present in this work? Join World Stage Scholar-in-Residence Julia Fawcett for a discussion about what we expect when we go to the theatre and how this differs from what we expect when we go to an art museum or open a book. What do we mean when we talk about theatre? And does Portraits in Motion fit this definition – or is it something new?

Join us for a series of Pre-show Teas with our World Stage Scholars-in-Residence. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the opening performance of Portraits in Motion.

Posted by: Harbourfront Centre
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