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Poor Traces of the Room: The Live Archive at the Library

Makrzanowska, A. & Dunne, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-9831-4195 (2017). Poor Traces of the Room: The Live Archive at the Library. Performance Research, 22(1), pp. 106-114. doi: 10.1080/13528165.2017.1285574


In his 1992 essay Eftermaele: ‘That which will be said afterwards’ Eugenio Barba states that ‘[i]n the age of electronic memory, of films, and of reproducibility … performance … defines itself through the work that living memory, which is not museum but metamorphosis, is obliged to do’ (78). His mention of memory is an acknowledgement of a spectator’s implicit function as a legacy-maker in theatre. Memory, here, is valorized by its transformative and non-reproducible form, which to Barba’s mind better reflects the experience of attending a performance. The notion of a spectator as a living archive is undoubtedly alluring, but Barba inadvertently reveals the limitations of this schema in his later essay ‘The essence of theatre’ (2002) by describing this legacy as ‘action that cannot be communicated’ (p.18). Describing the afterlife of a performance as little more than an invisible trace is to denude a document’s capacity to produce new meanings of past performances. The meaning of a text is not static: the moment a document is accessed the knowledge it has contributed in the construction of becomes live. The Live Archive was programmed as part of Kantor Is Here, a series of events celebrating Taduesz Kantor’s centenary and the teaching of Kantor at Rose Bruford. The Live Archive was a piece designed to theatricalize the processes by which knowledge is constructed through the social interactions that libraries engender. The ‘live’ of the title denotes a medium that transmits information between different groups and peoples. This article argues that the library, as a concept encapsulating the sharing, exchange and interpretation of information, enables live performances to stretch beyond the event sphere into a distributed process of knowledge construction. Kantor’s legacy manifests in texts, artefacts, pedagogy and performance

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in 'Performance Research' on 16 Mar 2017, available online:
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
SWORD Depositor:
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