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It’s been an exceptionally busy semester, which has made for slow work on Dark Room and related work, but I did manage to pull together a talk for an interesting gathering: “Estudos Performativos. Global Performance/ Political Performance,” Centro de Estudos HumanÍsticos, Universidade Do Minho, Braga, Protugal. The company was humbling, but the opportunity to work through what’s bascially the foundational thinking for the academic side of this project was useful. My talk was called “Force Multiplier: What Performance Can Do For and Against Torture.”

I first used a revised version of my earlier rant about Christopher Durang’s play Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them to demonstrate “the difficulties which theatre performance faces in doing anything about torture, and introduce the possibility that anti-torture performance risks missing a forest of violence in focusing on a few spectacularly violated trees.” I then fleshed out my argument that “torture is a performance relation” in which performance operates as a “force multiplier,” to use a military term. In short, performance functions to multiply the force of violence and other cruelty. I was pretty happy with the talk and got some very useful feedback. I think they’ll publish the proceedings, so some version of this will go in.


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