LICA Research Seminar: James Frieze on Diagnostic Performance

Date:2 February 2010
Time:4.00 pm

James Frieze (Liverpool John Moores University), Diagnostic Performance: Beyond the Fetish for Evidence


European and American drama has almost always been built around those crucial moments of discovery in which protagonists and spectators realise the magnitude and true nature of a problem that the drama reveals. But in the nineties and noughties we became less interested in people discovering things, and more interested in how things are discovered. Truth-revealing procedures have increasingly become, not just a means to solving the problem, but the problem itself. This seminar provocation will argue that performance has become increasingly 'diagnostic', contextualising that idea in relation to news media and television, as well as documentary and other kinds of theatre, in the last two decades. Drawing on Marx, de Certeau, and Butler to reading a feminist, theatrical history of medicine created by New York-based animateur Theodora Skipitares, and a genetic detective story created by London-based company Lightwork, Frieze will suggest that performances such as these are struggling with the need to pretend that 'nature' is a material entity before one can provide the pleasure of reading the human. What challenges and opportunities does the need to construct 'human nature' offer the contemporary theatre-maker?

Who can attend:Anyone
  • Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts (LICA)
  • The LICA Building, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YW, UK