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Discussion Forum

Zizek at the Theatre: a Bibliography

Started by Broderick D.V. Chow. Last reply by Graham Wolfe Sep 25, 2012. 1 Reply

Hi all, thanks for joining the group. I thought to kick things off we might use this forum to create a bibliography for work on Zizek in relation to theatre and performance.As we know, theatre and…Continue

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"Further Evidence on the Meaning of Musical Performance" Working Paper

Posted by Phillip Cartwright on January 15, 2020 at 21:28 0 Comments

Karolina Nevoina and I are pleased to announce availability of our working paper, "Further Evidence on the Meaning of Musical Performance". Special thanks to Professor Aaron Williamon and the Royal College of Music, Centre for Performance Science.…


Division of Labor - Denis Beaubois

Posted by Gabrielle Senza on February 23, 2018 at 0:36 0 Comments

I just came across Denis Beaubois, an Australian multidisciplinary artist whose work, Currency - Division of Labor might be of interest to researchers here.

It is a series of video/performance works that use the division of labor model in capitalism as a structural tool for performance.

From his website:

The Division of labour work explores…




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Hi all, thanks for joining the group. I thought to kick things off we might use this forum to create a bibliography for work on Zizek in relation to theatre and performance.

As we know, theatre and performance is a pretty big lacuna in Zizek's oeuvre - other than his discussions of opera, live performance doesn't really come into his work. So what texts of Zizek do you find yourself returning to in your work (and why)? Are there any useful essays on Zizek that make connections to live performance?

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I thought I'd start things off with one of Žižek's more explicit references to theatrical dynamics:

"When Lacan defines the Freudian drive as reflexive, as the stance of ‘se faire …’ (visual drive is not the drive to see, but, in contrast to the desire to see, the drive to make oneself seen, etc.) does he not thereby point toward the most elementary theatricality of the human condition? Our fundamental striving is not to observe, but to be part of a staged scene, to expose oneself to a gaze—not a determinate gaze of a person in reality, but of the nonexistent pure Gaze of the big Other" ("Neighbors" 177-8).

He then emphasizes: "The two correlative positions, that of the actor on the stage and that of the spectator, are not ontologically equivalent or contemporary: we are originally not observers of the play-stage of reality, but part of the tableau staged for the void of a nonexisting gaze, and it is only in a secondary time that we can assume the position of those who look at the stage. The unbearable 'impossible' position is not that of the actor, but that of the observer, of the public" (178),

I take this from “Neighbors and Other Monsters: A Plea for Ethical Violence" in The Neighbor (with Santner and Reinhard), but it's also repeated recently in Less Than Nothing (694-5).

Alenka Zupančič's The Odd One In: On Comedy (Cambridge MA: MIT, 2008) works closely with a number of Lacanian-Žižekian concepts/concerns while addressing works of theatre more directly than Žižek tends to. Her previous book, The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two (Cambridge MA: MIT, 2003), which Žižek draws on heavily in chapter 2 of The Parallax View (specifically in the sub-section "The Comedy of Incarnation"), contains an analysis of the "mousetrap" scene in Olivier's Hamlet (116-122).

I'll also add a notable antagonist: Bruce McConachie takes on Žižek in "Cognitive Studies and Epistemic Competence in Cultural History: Moving Beyond Freud and Lacan." Performance and Cognition: Theatre Studies and the Cognitive Turn. Eds. Bruce McConachie and F. Elizabeth Hart. New York: Routledge, 2006. 52-75.


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