Performance follows the money – it mediates in the spaces between the consumer and the seller – providing a matrix for sales, and preserving market philosophy. When there was slavery, it sold slaves, during the industrial revolution it made a market demographic of the working class (cohering them as a target), during the Great Society, it creditably democratized academic culture. However to remain fluid/transitive, it must also pull away from or resist the norm; it’s an area of discourse, it’s an apophatic or at least metaphorical space. Theater thrives as long as its system of delivery remains unstable.
The Great Society systems (fixed, regional theaters) have become stable (in concept if not in operation), and the ability of performance to move, to disturb, has drained away. What the culture wants now is navigators – we need performance to navigate alterity – especially differences as they now emerge (across a global span, across the divide between rich and poor). Performance wants to move further, faster – as a tool of research and as a force now cohering activism (because to be, now, to identify a social set of meanings, is prime capital, former associations having atomized).
Rigor, citizenship, legitimacy – these are words commonly applied to activist art (activist, art…) – and we need a new vocabulary – the terms come out of the old mouth… Maybe citizenship can be redeemed, though the right has its teeth in it.