Performance Research Forum is delighted to launch its Spring 2019 programme of talks and events. All events are followed by drinks and a discussion with the audience.
Dr Bryce Lease, Royal Holloway University of London
Affect, Theatricality and Spectacle: Commemoration in the History Museum
The Muranów district of Warsaw is a complex palimpsest of pasts and genealogies, a place where for hundreds of years Polish Jews lived and thrived, and where they were later corralled, starved, murdered, and transported to death camps. The newest addition to this memorial landscape, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, has revivified symbolic investments in the district's architectural destruction and the absence of its Jewish populations. Topographically, the significance of the museum is signified through the centrality of its location in the district and its proximity to Nathan Rapoport's Monument to the Ghetto Heroes erected in 1948. In this paper, I will analyze POLIN Museum in its relational engagements with the Rapoport Monument to demonstrate how commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto and the victims of the Holocaust penetrates the entirety of the museum's historical narrative. This museum, I argue, encourages the visitor to honor both the dead and the history of the living, thus making affective modes of commemoration and learning mutually generative. Placing historical consciousness in a commemorative frame that extends memory across multiple ethnic groups, I contend that POLIN Museum offers a shared history, which is constructed through its wider relations to the memorial terrain of the former Warsaw Ghetto and its architectural and design forms. Contrasting POLIN with the Warsaw Uprising Museum, I will consider how a commemorative register can engage with a museum's use of theatricality to activate visitors as historical agents and critical interpreters of the past. In doing so, I will analyse the relationship between affect, theatricality and spectacle in museum spaces that respond to difficult pasts and (competing) narratives of victimhood.
Bryce Lease is Senior Lecturer in Drama & Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has published widely on Polish theatre, including his monograph After ’89: Polish Theatre and the Political (2016). He is Co-Editor of Contemporary Theatre Review, and is currently working on two AHRC-funded projects: as Primary Investigator for ‘Staging Difficult Pasts: Of Narrative, Objects and Public Memory’, and as Co-I on the project ‘Embodied Performance Practices in Processes of Reconciliation, Construction of Memory and Peace in Chocó and El Pacífico Medio, Colombia’.
Dates & times
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|12 Feb 2019||6:00pm - 8:00pm|
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