Performing critique: towards a non-representational theatre in Britain

Papaioannou, Spyros. 2012. Performing critique: towards a non-representational theatre in Britain. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis traces the conditions of possibility for what we came to understand as ‘non-representational’ approaches to performing critique. In assessing different theatrical practitioners in Britain (in the form of case studies) that have challenged a politically prescriptive theatre, the thesis elaborates upon ideologically ‘incomplete’ ways of performing, in order to rethink the staging of critical practice beyond its subjection to mimesis, abstract significations and transcendental politics. Ways of rethinking theatre as a space in which politics is not transcendentally transmitted, but rather emerges within the performance-event, as well as questions of spectators’ emancipation from systems of power that have rendered them passive and immobile watchers of a spectacle are examined and challenged. In doing so, the research resonates with many ongoing discussions about the function and performance of critique, placing questions of spectatorship, de-objectification and representation at the heart of its analysis.
Considering political theatre as a plateau on which critique can be actualised as a ‘becoming’ in the ‘here and now’ of the event, the thesis explores the question of non-representational performance along three broad theoretical axes. First, it unfolds and critically exposes the limits of interactivity within performance practices, by considering dialogical processes of performing not as ends-in- themselves, but as starting points of challenging the problem of representation in political theatre. Secondly, the thesis examines ‘incomplete’ and fragmentary performances, suggesting that non-representational approaches to theatre are, in effect, a critique of teleological outcomes and determinate meanings; therefore, theatrical incompleteness is theorised as a tool of critical practices that become non-representational. Thirdly, in destabilising the problematic opposition between conditioning the spectator as object or subject, the thesis argues that the power relations in performance need to be destratified and transformed into productive variations, as a way to endorse a politics of presence in political theatre.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Non-representational theatre, interactive performance, postdramatic, spectatorship, political theatre, incompleteness, critique

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



July 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 May 2013 07:38

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:20


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