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

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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

4 Resurfacing: continuous theatre for a creative city On 3 July 1987, ten thousand spectators looked on as the Bougainville, last ship to be built in Nantes, slipped into the Loire. A spectacular feat: a hull 113 metres in length had to enter a portion of the estuary just 150 metres wide. The crowd gathered on the Loire’s northern bank along the Quai de la Fosse, once home to shipbuilding activity itself but by that time a stretch of cafés and bars frequented by Nantes’ working classes. It was early evening, the hour for an aperitif among friends, but the

in Street theatre and the production of postindustrial space
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Female theatre workers and professional practice

Stage women, 1900–50 explores the many ways in which women conceptualised, constructed and participated in networks of professional practice in the theatre and performance industries between 1900 and 1950. A timely volume full of original research, the book explores women’s complex negotiations of their agency over both their labour and public representation, and their use of personal and professional networks to sustain their careers. Including a series of case studies that explore a range of well-known and lesser-known women working in theatre, film and popular performance of the period. The volume is divided into two connected parts. ‘Female theatre workers in the social and theatrical realm’ looks at the relationship between women’s work – on- and offstage – and autobiography, activism, technique, touring, education and the law. Part II, ‘Women and popular performance’, focuses on the careers of individual artists, once household names, including Lily Brayton, Ellen Terry, radio star Mabel Constanduros, and Oscar-winning film star Margaret Rutherford. Overall, the book provides new and vibrant cultural histories of women’s work in the theatre and performance industries of the period.

The Rising Relevance of James Baldwin
James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin and Ray Charles in “The Hallelujah Chorus”

Based on a recent, archival discovery of the script, “But Amen is the Price” is the first substantive writing about James Baldwin’s collaboration with Ray Charles, Cicely Tyson, and others in a performance of musical and dramatic pieces. Titled by Baldwin, “The Hallelujah Chorus” was performed in two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City on 1 July 1973. The essay explores how the script and presentation of the material, at least in Baldwin’s mind, represented a call for people to more fully involve themselves in their own and in each other’s lives. In lyrical interludes and dramatic excerpts from his classic work, “Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin addressed divisions between neighbors, brothers, and strangers, as well as people’s dissociations from themselves in contemporary American life. In solo and ensemble songs, both instrumental and vocal, Ray Charles’s music evinced an alternative to the tradition of Americans’ evasion of each other. Charles’s sound meant to signify the history and possibility of people’s attainment of presence in intimate, social, and political venues of experience. After situating the performance in Baldwin’s personal life and public worldview at the time and detailing the structure and content of the performance itself, “But Amen is the Price” discusses the largely negative critical response as a symptom faced by much of Baldwin’s other work during the era, responses that attempted to guard “aesthetics” generally—be they literary, dramatic, or musical—as class-blind, race-neutral, and apolitical. The essay presents “The Hallelujah Chorus” as a key moment in Baldwin’s search for a musical/literary form, a way to address, as he put it, “the person and the people,” in open contention with the social and political pressures of the time.

James Baldwin Review