As the nature of contemporary performance continues to expand into new forms, genres and media, it requires an increasingly diverse vocabulary. Reading Contemporary Performance provides students, critics and creators with a rich understanding of the key terms and ideas that are central to any discussion of this evolving theatricality.

Specially commissioned entries from a wealth of contributors map out the many and varied ways of discussing performance in all of its forms – from theatrical and site-specific performances to live and New Media art. The book is divided into two sections:

    • Concepts - Key terms and ideas arranged according to the five characteristic elements of performance art: time; space; action; performer; audience.

    • Methodologies and Turning Points - The seminal theories and ways of reading performance, such as postmodernism, epic theatre, feminisms, happenings and animal studies.

    • Case Studies – entries in both sections are accompanied by short studies of specific performances and events, demonstrating creative examples of the ideas and issues in question.

Three different introductory essays provide multiple entry points into the discussion of contemporary performance, and cross-references for each entry also allow the plotting of one’s own pathway. Reading Contemporary Performance is an invaluable guide, providing not just a solid set of familiarities, but an exploration and contextualisation of this broad and vital field.

part I|17 pages


chapter |5 pages

Reading performance

A physiognomy

chapter |3 pages

Theatricality across genres

chapter |5 pages

Performing the theatrical matrix

part II|155 pages

Concepts and paired case studies

chapter |15 pages


chapter |21 pages


chapter |41 pages


chapter |38 pages


chapter |25 pages


part III|107 pages

Methodologies/turning points and paired case studies