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Books: Certain Fragments: Texts and Writings on Performance

[amazonify]0415173833[/amazonify]Certain Fragments is an extraordinary exploration of what lies at the heart of contemporary theatre. Written by the artistic director of Forced Entertainment, acknowledged to be ‘Britain’s most brilliant experimental theatre company'( Guardian), Certain Fragments investigates the processes of devising performance, the role of writing in an interdisciplinary theatre, and the influence of the city on contemporary art practice. Tim Etchells’ unique and provocative voice shifts from intimate anecdote to critical analysis and back again. As in his theatre-making, Etchells disrupts traditional notions of creative, academic and intellectual work. The book is an exciting and radical fusion of story-telling and criticism. It also makes available for the first time, four seminal Forced Entertainment texts by Etchells.

“The struggle to produce witnesses rather than spectators is present in the contemporary performance scene. You can see it in excess/epic style at least in the public piercings and mutilations by American artist Ron Athey or the ‘suspensions’ on meet-hooks carried out by Stelare, events in which extreme versions of the body in pain, in sexual play and in shock demand repeated of those watching – ‘be here, be here, be here…’.

You can see it in much milder work too, and sometimes more clearly. In the rearrangements of audiences space and contract repeatedly employed by the UK performance companies Station House Opera and Blast Theory, and by the US group Goat Island, whose physical vocabulary) of school gym class, nervous ticks, sports moves and intimate gestures) its itself a kind of witnessing – writing of cultural biography in neglected physicality. You can see the plea for witnesses in the ritualistic slowness and the simple presence of work by performance artist Alistair MacLennan, work that charts the landscape half public and politicized, half private and resolutely interior. You can see in the durational performances of poet and artist Brian Catling, and in the use of personal and unlikely spaces by Bobby Baker – Kitchens, medical centers, schools. In each of these artist’s work one gets, in every different ways, an invitation to be here and be now, to feel exactly what it is to be in this place and time.”

– Tim Etchells, Certain Fragments

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble bigartgroup.com and network, blog, and publisher, contemporaryperformance.com. He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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