Seminar "Virtual Materiality and Technologies of the Real in Chinese Documentary Theatre"


By Rossella Ferrari, University of Vienne, Visiting professor MSH

A collaboration with the Centre de recherche en cinéma et arts du spectacle (CiASp) and the Master en Arts du spectacle of the Faculté de Lettres, traduction et communication

This talk explores the entanglements of the real and the virtual and embodied and mediated materialities in documentary theatre, with a focus on the practices of theatre of the real developed by the New Youth Group (Xin qingnian jutuan), an independent company based in Beijing. First, it examines the deployment of technologies of the real in a trilogy of documentary theatre works developed between 2013 and 2019 with different casts of non-professional performers, comprising One Fine Day (2013), Popular Mechanics (2018), and A Brief History of Human Evolution (2019). It then turns to an analysis of A Welder’s Flash, an online performance combining autobiographical self-documentary and object theatre that was livestreamed during the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020. Welder illustrates how analogue materialities and the messiness, unpredictability, and harshness of the real repeatedly invade the virtual domain of the digital to produce a distinctive form of virtual theatre of the real.

Rossella Ferrari is Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, and has previously taught at SOAS University of London, UK. Her research and publications focus on the contemporary performance cultures of China and the Chinese-speaking region, transnational and inter-Asian approaches to Sinophone theatres, and postsocialist performance in China. She is the author of Pop Goes the Avant-Garde: Experimental Theatre in Contemporary China (2012), Transnational Chinese Theatres: Intercultural Performance Networks in East Asia (2020), and Asian City Crossings: Pathways of Performance through Hong Kong and Singapore (2021, co-edited with Ashley Thorpe).

Wednesday 17th April 2024, 2pm - 6pm

Bibliothèque des sciences humaines Simone Veil
Bâtiment NB - Niveau 2 - Salle NB2VIS
Avenue Paul Héger 1
1000 Bruxelles

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