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This Is Not a Performance: Critique of a ?Genre? (final performance)

One Student's picture
Stage directions: I drag my chair to the front of the room, out of the horse-shoe of chairs in which the rest of the class is seated. A few minutes are spent in deciding whether to turn the projector off or if I should drag my chair to the side. Shortly, the projector is turned off. I stand on the chair.


This is not a pipe

(This is not a pipe)

This is not a performance.

It's the end of my third class with Anne Dalke, and I still don’t know what is meant by ‘final performance’. I don’t know what’s expected of me, I don’t know the rules of the genre. The demands of structure shape my thoughts … but not here and now.

I hate performances, in the Dalke-ian sense. I hate performance generally, I was a techie in high school. I don’t mind being up on a soapbox speaking my piece, as I am now, but I hate performance. And I hate Dalke-ian performance because I don’t know what’s expected. The only thing I hate more than being told what to do is not knowing what to do at all. If I’m told what to do, at least I can argue and pervert, bend the rules until they scream. But I can’t break rules if I don’t know them. I have to have something to work with, or against.

This is not an apple

(This is not an apple)


The best example of any genre knows the rules so well that it can break them and yet still provide the structural cues which signal the genre it is, the genre it is pretending to be, the genre it is performing, the performance it is exposing. I’m a techie, and I’m in charge of the spotlight, and I throw that spotlight into the wings, into the green room, I reveal the actors with half their costumes on and putting on their make-up, I show the actors naked. I try, anyway. I turn the spotlight on myself, nervously opening and closing the curtains I set up. I want to throw open the theatre door, and I want to burn the theatre to the ground just to see what the actors do next.

Final performance’. Last chance on this particular soapbox, I guess.

That was not a performance.

This is not a drill

(This is not a drill)
I step off the chair.


Anne Dalke's picture

anti-performance of the emerging self

Touche. I earned this, deserved this critique, and am laughing aloud in delight to see both the performance of this non-performance, and its textual and visual representation here. See also further rich conversation about anti-performance and the need to have rules to break.