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

Audronė Žukauskaitė

Romeo Castellucci refers to the ambivalent role of the theme of tragedy in our society: on the one hand, tragedy is considered the fundamental mode of human expression, on the other hand, in the society of the spectacle our lives are completely detached from any concept of the tragic. As Castellucci points out, “Disasters and the slaughters of innocents are everywhere referred to as ‘tragedies’, but this is an idea of tragedy that does not know how to distinguish these things from spectacle; nor how to think of them in terms of political crisis; nor how to gather them up on behalf of a metropolitan community, amongst people who are at the same time amassed and dispersed, who lack any common ground or mother language, who lack even ‘a people’: who lack those foundations that are the basis for the invention of tragedy” (Castellucci 2007: 30). In order to invent a ‘people to come’, contemporary theatre has to question the conventional forms of the Attic tragedy and introduce a model of biological evolution, a mechanism of reproduction and growth. Castellucci’s performance “Tragedia Endogonidia” is structured around this caesura between the concepts of violence and death, which are at the core of tragedy, and the ethics of life, which follows the lines of becoming and evolution. In my paper I will analyze how this biological model of evolution, already developed in the philosophies of Nietzsche, Bergson, and Deleuze, engenders new forms of performance and creates new ethical and political conditions for a ‘people to come’.

Audronė Žukauskaitė is senior researcher at the Lithuanian Culture Research Institute and Vilnius University, and is the President of Lithuanian Philosophical Association. Her main research areas include contemporary philosophy, psychoanalysis, visual and cultural studies. Her recent publications include a monograph Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Philosophy: The Logic of Multiplicity, Vilnius: Baltos lankos, 2011, and an edited volume Intensities and Flows: Gilles Deleuze’s Philosophy in the Context of Contemporary Art and Politics, Vilnius: LKTI, 2011. She also co-edited (with Steve Wilmer) Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.