QUORUM Drama Research Seminar 20 Oct: There Are Plenty of Businesses like Show Business: Launch Event for ‘Marxist Keywords for Performance’

There Are Plenty of Businesses like Show Business: Launch Event for ‘Marxist Keywords for Performance’

by Performance and Political Economy research group (Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal, Shane Boyle, Ash Dilks, Caoimhe Mader McGuinness, Olive Mckeon, Lisa Moravec, Alessandro Simari, Clio Unger, Martin Young).

20 Oct, 7PM (BST) on Zoom or in person at ArtsOne

How to book: Free tickets but RSVP, please. In person booking: bit.ly/qm2010ip Online booking: bit.ly/qm2010o

Theatre and performance studies is awash with scholarship that examines performance in relation to its labour processes, modes of management, financial infrastructures, and so forth. But there lacks shared critical understanding of what terms such as “value” or “capital” mean and how they can be applied when studying performance forms like theatre, dance, or live art. The range of meanings that performance scholars attach to the word “commodity” or even the seemingly obvious entities of “class” and “the state,” for example, reveals more than a slight degree of imprecision or disagreement. It indicates a lack of systematic thought and, consequently, a need to interrogate the categories used for discussing performance’s political economy. 

Collectively written by nine people, “Marxist Keywords for Performance” (2021) contributes to growing critical attention within theatre and performance studies towards political economy by defining key Marxist concepts and exploring how they can be applied to study performance. Ahead of our project’s publication in a joint issue of The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism and Global Performance Studies: GPS, this presentation introduces our aims in writing the keywords and reflects on the collective research, carried out in the midst of the pandemic, that went into them. As Tithi Bhattacharya (2017) reminds us, the aim of any critique of political economy should be to “restore to the ‘economic’ process its messy, sensuous, gendered, raced, and unruly component: living human beings capable of following orders—as well as of flouting them.” A critique of the political economy of performance, as we understand it, should have this same goal.

Thank you for your help!


Hanife Schulte, Carolyn Naish, Gill Lamden, Tobi Poster-Su, Souradeep Roy, and Sam Čermák

QUORUM Committee
Drama Department; Queen Mary, University of London


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