The Ethics of Participation and Participation Gone Wrong
This article examines the way that ethics underpin and affect audience participation in contemporary theatre, illustrated in the performance practice of British-German ensemble Gob Squad. It looks at how a proliferation of participatory practices has opened up a space for ethics to be reconfigured, and establishes that the ethics of participation may intimate that a ‘good’ performance is interchangeable with the idea of an ‘authentic’ performance. It emphasises a double dimension to the ethics of participation: the first is concerned with the self and the second is about everyone else, drawing on the corresponding theories of Nicholas Ridout (2009) and Erving Goffman (1959). Importantly, the article disentangles participation gone wrong and brings into view a new categorisation of spectator which I am calling the ‘dis-spectator,’ who deliberately challenges the structures and processes of the performance. At the centre of the discussion are a group of hecklers in the audience of Gob Squad’s War and Peace (2016), and their targeted jeering at a participant-spectator. My analysis develops a taxonomy of dis-spectatorship that outlines varying levels of transgressive behaviour from testing out the boundaries of participation to sabotaging the performance. Lastly, I call attention to a lack of consideration given to care and responsibility in participatory practices, which can leave participants in a precarious position.
Citation : Jordan, K. (2019) The Ethics of Participation and Participation Gone Wrong. Journal of Contemporary Drama in English 7 (2), pp. 187-209
Research Institute : Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Arts