chapter  3
24 Pages

In the meantime: performance remains

In this chapter, I turn to an essay I wrote in 2001, and, if the reader will allow a trip of the tongue, “reperform” it.1 Here, I insert a precedent text into the heart of a new text, and use text within text to question several basic tenets of performance studies: first, that performance disappears and text remains; second, that live performance is not a recording; and third, that the live takes place in a “now” understood as singular, immediate, and vanishing. In the meantime, however, a preamble:

Hamlet: Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently [. . .] And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary question of the play be then to be considered. That’s villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it.