Short description

The common denominator of the essays published in this book is, according to its author, in the methodological choices appropriate to new theatrology, a field of research defined by Marco De Marinis as a postsemiological, multidisciplinary, and experimental approach to theatre related subjects involving a close relationship with artistic practice. These subjects are “well-deserved” in the opus of Sibila Petlevski, because, as an author, she has consecrated several decades of her scholarly and artistic life investigating the relationship between art and science. Methodologically challenging and stylistically refined, Petlevski’s essays exhibit genre-appropriate mastery. The wording of the title Theatre of Shame primarily refers to the possibility of creating a cultural critique on the basis of the insight into the concept of the social performance where - in the words of cultural anthropologist Victor Turner – social conflicts follow a structure similar to tragic plots; “social dramas” having a structure whose first phase is marked by the breach of the norm, the breach is then followed by a crisis, the crisis leads to a ritual sacrifice that is finally, in the fourth phase of the “social drama”, resolved in the act of reintegration.
One of the principal goals of this book is to lay open to view the dynamics of the influence that social norms exert on the measure of spectacle, and to point to the consequences that this socially determined measure leaves on the theatrical fact. The phrase «theater of shame» has very little to do with «production dramaturgy» as a practical theater discipline which carries the hermeneutics of a particular play directly to the stage. On the contrary, the title phrase (for which the author received a boost in Agamben’s Remnants of Auschwitz. The Witness and the Archive) refers to the dramaturgy of «the event of the impossible»; to the dramatization of the powerlessness of testimony, and to the performance of the silence of those who, having felt the silent shame of being human, have also severed within themselves any link with the political power in which they live and let that shame feed their thoughts and constitute the beginning of a revolution and of an exodus of which - as Agamben lucidly remarks in Means Without End – we are now barely able to discern the end.
The book carrying a suggestive title Theatre of Shame has a special place in the literary and scientific opus of Sibila Petlevski, a versatile author, who exhibited her prowess in all genres of literature – from fictional and historical narrative, across poetry and drama, to critical studies in theatre and performance studies, and who has been awarded for her contribution to each of the aforementioned genres and fields of research. Petlevski based her essays on many years of meticulous research, counterbalancing scientific rigor to the invocation of intellectual and literary freedom. The unique value of this book is in the author’s bold decision to show that the writing itself opens up an unexpectedly wide space for performance. The performative dimension of this book lies in the methodological, stylistic and thematic choices made by this author who refuses and supersedes the deeply entrenched division of labor, that “apartheid of knowledges” for which Dwight Conquergood once said that it “plays out inside the academy as the difference between thinking and doing, interpreting and making, conceptualization and creativity”.

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