Working memories

Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space explores how street theatre transforms industrial space into postindustrial space. Deindustrializing communities have increasingly turned to cultural projects to commemorate industrial heritage while simultaneously generating surplus value and jobs in a changing economy. Through analysis of French street theatre companies working out of converted industrial sites, this book reveals how theatre and performance more generally participate in and make historical sense of ongoing urban and economic change. The book argues, firstly, that deindustrialization and redevelopment rely on the spatial and temporal logics of theatre and performance. Redevelopment requires theatrical events and performative acts that revise, resituate, and re-embody particular pasts. The book proposes working memory as a central metaphor for these processes. The book argues, secondly, that in contemporary France street theatre has emerged as working memory's privileged artistic form. If the transition from industrial to postindustrial space relies on theatrical logics, those logics will manifest differently depending on geographic context. The book links the proliferation of street theatre in France since the 1970s to the crisis in Fordist-Taylorist modernity. How have street theatre companies converted spaces of manufacturing into spaces of theatrical production? How do these companies (with municipal governments and developers) connect their work to the work that occurred in these spaces in the past? How do those connections manifest in theatrical events, and how do such events give shape and meaning to redevelopment? Street theatre’s function is both economic and historiographic. It makes the past intelligible as past and useful to the present.

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Street and theatre at the end of Fordism

1 Theatre in ruins: street and theatre at the end of Fordism 1973 was an inauspicious year for France’s economy and a surprisingly sunny one for its street performers. After the spring crash in the global property market but before the autumn oil embargo, Jean Digne, director of the Théâtre du Centre in Aix-en-Provence, and Charles Nugue, director of the city’s cultural centre, organized a festival: Aix, ville ouverte aux saltimbanques (Aix, city open to street performers). The event brought tumblers, jugglers, fire-spinners, magicians, and busking musicians

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Working memory

wrecking ball had already reduced to rubble before a successful lobbying effort by locals and preservationists to designate the building a heritage site. Stéphane Bonnard is not (primarily) a heritage preservationist. He is, with Pierre Duforeau, co-artistic director of street theatre company KompleXKapharnaüM. Since its founding in 1995, KompleXKapharnaüM has worked out of a former metal parts factory in what is now the Carré de Soie. KompleXKapharnaüM creates sitespecific, multimedia performances that engage local memory, industrial and working-class heritage, and

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Alternative pasts, sustainable futures

theatre festival at Chalon-sur-Saône. As part of that festival, multimedia artist Fabrice Giraud and arts collective Zo Prod have installed this interactive sculpture, Le murmure des plantes 2.0 (The whisper of plants 2.0, first created in 2013), in the Jardin de l’Arquebuse. Giraud’s installation is not the first industrial vegetation to spring up at a French street theatre festival. Whereas Le murmure des plantes 2.0 consists of a single, physically immobile sculpture, Compagnie Fer Recuperation 175 Figure 5.1  Fabrice Giraud, Le murmure des plantes 2.0, 2015. à

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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The imaginary archaeology of redevelopment

de Soie encompasses the Villeurbanne neighbourhoods east of Boulevard Laurent Bonnevay and the Vaulxen-Velin neighbourhoods south of the Canal de Jonage. Initiated in 2004, the project reimagines this disparate collection of brownfields and social housing as the eastern centre of leisure and business for a growing European agglomeration. KompleXKapharnaüM, the street theatre company discussed in Excavation 99 this chapter, is based in a former metal parts factory on rue Francia, a short walk past the city limits in Vaulx-en-Velin’s western neighbour

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Putting the countryside back to work

2 Reincorporation: putting the countryside back to work A man in worker’s blues speaks into a megaphone as his comrades distribute tracts to the assembled crowd. This task completed, the men climb atop a truck laden with empty oil drums. They rhythmically strike the drums with mallets and sticks and touch their edges with power saws and belt sanders, creating fountains of sparks that burn starkly against the deepening indigo of the evening sky. These men are members of street theatre company Metalovoice, performing as hosts of the Ouverture festival. It is 2011

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Continuous theatre for a creative city

, 2010. blink, its tail swishes, and its ears flap. Constructed by street theatre company La Machine from wood and steel, with leather for the flapping ears, the hydraulically powered behemoth carries forty-five passengers along the banks of the Loire (see figure 4.1). The Great Elephant is the first completed project of Les Machines de l’île (The Machines of the Island, 2007–), a tourist and cultural destination based in the Naves, three former metal fabrication shops. Members of La Machine use two of the three Naves as metal and woodworking shops; here they

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Winifred Dolan beyond the West End

this was the type of work still undertaken almost exclusively by men within the West End realm, with few exceptions.18 When covering for Legge, the kind of support offered by Dolan to the ostensibly autonomous actor-manager was integral to management: I’ll describe a typical timetable as experience evolved it: First I had to be at the two theatres for the morning’s letters & take them to Pont Street by nine o’clock – this meant my day started about 8am! I only quitted my post for a quick lunch at some restaurant (tea at the office) and left it around 6 or 6.30 p

in Stage women, 1900–50
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Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession

4 Offstage labour Actresses, charity work and the early twentieth-century theatre profession Catherine Hindson Though their stage performances often feature as the subjects of focused attention, early twentieth-century actresses functioned as part of a wider theatre industry that was sustained by the non-theatrical social, material, consumer and economic cultures that surrounded it. In this context, the onstage performances offered by actresses of this period were just one element of more expansive, diverse professional repertoires that also included offstage

in Stage women, 1900–50
The Actresses’ Franchise League from 1914 to 1928

many other projects such as the Era War Distress Fund and the Three Arts Employment Fund that gave work to unemployed theatre professionals. Two of the League’s wartime satellite projects are explored in this chapter – the Women’s Emergency Corps and the British Women’s Hospital Fund. Both ventures moved the League into new areas of campaigning, and utilised the skills, generosity and resourcefulness of its members. Aug 4 – All so strange, unreal – wild rumours of naval engagements, ships sunk – the streets as we walked home were full of excited people waving flags

in Stage women, 1900–50