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Thinking Through Tragedy and Comedy A Symposium on Performance Philosophy and the Future of Genre

Alice Koubová

To be ludic or sacrificed in performance? On the ludic mode of thinking

The paper aims at presenting ludic theater and ludic principle in arts (I. Vyskočil, F. Kafka, J. Hašek, B. Brecht,) as a sort of counterpoint to the principle of sacrifice in theater and arts (e.g. J. Grotowski). This distinction may be seen as a variation of the genre duality of comedy and tragedy arising after the performance turn in theater practice. Performance emphasizes processuality, singularity of events, emergence, and principle of authorship in theater expression. Both sacrificed and ludic theater take these aspects as their point of departure but they format them differently. They difference is visible on how they handle the highly ambivalent, tragic situations, how they face the “tremendous moment, opening gulf present even in comic genre” (Dürrenmatt). Ludic theater does not take the attitude of sacrifice-savior, committed victim, but an extravagant, non-compromised experimenting player. This stance builds a modus of thought characterized by: 1. Philosophical stance based on excited wonder 2. Specific distance to the real based on multiplicity of performative exposures, laughter and experimental modulation of reality 3. Understanding human being as non-tragic hero, who does not matter that much indeed. 4. Singular moment of piece within the permanent performative dynamics. This attitude has its political and ethical consequences as well. I will demonstrate strongly subversive Central European ludic patterns in social and political behavior which are localized beyond the duality of power and powerlessness, the dialectics of master and slave.

Alice Koubová works as a senior researcher at the Philosophical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic and as a lecturer at Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Her professional focus is oriented on performance philosophy, expressivity, post-phenomenology, ethics of play. She is director of an international project Philosophy in Experiment and member of Expedition Philosophie Verein, Germany. She is the author of Self-Identity and Powerlessness (Brill). In 2014 she organizes Gnothi seauton- No paper conference supported by Performance Philosophy International Network.