Instantaneousness and Performance

  • Nikolas Hunter Wakefield

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Arts


This dissertation aims to investigate how theatre and performance manifest
instantaneousness. Through analysing art criticism, theatre and performance this dissertation reveals the capability of theatre to construct multiple temporalities, whether they be endless or instantaneous. Manifesting these temporalities emerges through the relationship of the artwork and the spectator that may be described as theatrical or absorbing. This framework is inspired by Michael Fried’s 1967 article Art and Objecthood. Thus chapter one first contextualises the article and then performs a close reading in which Fried’s writing and several of his respondents’ work is analysed. Chapter two explores the framework of the theatrical or absorbing beholder relationship as it relates to the medium of theatre through analysing postdramatic practice and theory. Chapter three advances the arguments concerning temporality from Art and Objecthood by using them to analyse works of performance art. It is shown that theatricality, absorption, endlessness and instantaneousness are contested terms that may be used to describe sensibilities, aspects, qualities, situations
and moments of artworks. Rather than being strictly theatrical or absorbing, theatre and performance are often partly one and the other. Similarly, both theatre and performance are capable of emerging temporalities that may be endless in one aspect but instantaneousness in another. This dissertation thus aims to clarify the ways theatre and performance, through theatricality and absorption, manifest endlessness and, most importantly, instantaneousness
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorMichael Pearson (Supervisor)

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