To the Ends of the World

Emma Willis, Nien Yuan Cheng, Chris Hay


The impulse for this issue came from the experiences wrought by Covid, in particular the rapid migration to online platforms. 2020 in particular was a time of immense challenge for both students and teachers as we grappled with how to profoundly transform our teaching and learning practices, which had hitherto been largely grounded in face-to-face exchange, in collective embodied practices. At the same time, however, there were glimpses of possibility, of solidarity, of ways in which the world might become different, better, because of all this. Precisely because of this unsettling of our default performance modes–a “what if” mode of thinking and doing–we began to reflect on Jon McKenzie’s Perform or Else and how revisiting this text might help us negotiate the challenges we currently face: How might experiences of Covid might be read in relation to the techno-performance paradigm? How was the language of performance management deployed within the pandemic and what does this tells us about the values underpinning our institutions and our place within them? How might the field of performance studies step forward to both offer insights and demonstrate new possibilities?

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Daddario, Will. 2017. Baroque, Venice, Theatre, Philosophy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Eckersall, Peter, and Ed Scheer. 2005. “Live Ends: Performance in the Information Age” Performance Paradigm 1: i-v.

McKenzie, Jon. 2001. Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

McKenzie, Jon. 2015. “Stratification and Diagrammatic Storytelling: An Encounter with ‘Under the Dome.’“ Lo Squaderno: Explorations in Space and Society 37: 13-18.

McKenzie, Jon. 2019. Transmedia Knowledge for Liberal Arts and Community Engagement: A StudioLab Manifesto. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


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