basketball and "performance"

TDR (The Drama Review, formerly Tulane Drama Review, the pre-eminent journal on, not theater, but “performance studies” (and there’s a difference, and I’ll explain it on the unlikely occasion when it doesn’t bore me to tears)) just sent out its Annual Student Essay Contest guidelines.

They state:

Essays may be on any subject related to performancetheatre, dance, music, media, performance in everyday life, ritual, play, sports, politics, etc….free to tamper with our parameters or invent your own subjects. TDR is actively intercultural, interdisciplinary, and progressive.

Woo hoo. Their request reflects a “performance studies” approach to searching out nodes of performance or “performative” activities in everyday, real life. As opposed to the constructed, hoaried apparatus of the theater, say.

I’m not unsympathetic to this.

But we have a contradiction here: performance theorists seeking out some imaginary “essential” or “authentic” kernel of ur-Performance even in our current day, the age of Baudrilliard’s “end of the real,” the post-modern acknowledgement of the constructed, mediated, contextual basis of all communication and performance, gesture and language.

Which leads to further contradictions, especially considering the anti-theater bias arising from the resultant apparatus of performance studies scholars. Why are we so uninterested in theater, in art that has been constructed–why must we keep searching for some “authentic” “essential” in everyday life? As if art isn’t real life! Art is real life! Only slightly less constructed than the daily habits of life! (My brilliant friend Jen Mitas, currently studying in London and more soon on her, introduced this line of thinking to me a few weeks ago and it’s been taking root).

So anyway, watching the playoffs tonight, struck, as I always am, by the performance of sports. Sports are performative in lots of ways. Ok, big deal.

What I’m really trying to say is: Fuck the Lakers. Fuck ’em harrrrrrrd.

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