Staging Process examines contemporary collective creation practices, with particular focus on the work of four “third wave” American performance ensembles: Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and the TEAM. The book examines ways in which these groups create blueprints for developing collaborative performance, arguing that for these groups methodology entwines with emerging performance aesthetics.
Rachel Anderson-Rabern examines the ideas of boredom and everyday employment that permeate particular performance projects. Using Henri Lefebvre’s concepts of work roles within everyday philosophy, she demonstrates that collective creation gives rise to new economies of performance. The book also presents theories of the political stakes of danced gestural forms in performance, informed by Giorgio Agamben’s writings on gesture. Anderson-Rabern analyzes group creativity as topological and presents examples of groups that structurally unhinge themselves while retaining their collective identity. The book also elaborates the ways in which these ensembles make use of durational performance to posit ethical frameworks: ways of living in the world.
Conversing with the ideas of Paul Virilio and Guy Debord among others, the book claims that these groups posit new models of aesthetic politics through careful, speed-based investigations of construction and destruction. These investigations unearth the powerful potential of contemporary collaborative methods to be at once aesthetically minded, ethically driven, and politically engaged.
“Staging Process is the most significant study of collaboratively created theater in America written in the last twenty years. With clarity of voice and purpose that will resonate for scholars, practitioners, and viewers alike, Anderson-Rabern elucidates new ways of thinking through a process-based politics of theater. Here we find performance that models living and working together with care.” —Daniel Sack, author of After Live: Possibility, Potentiality, and the Future of Performance
“Anderson-Rabern reclaims the arena of politics for third-wave collective creation in theater. She accomplishes this by documenting aspects of four major groups’ techniques and performances and, second, by elaborating a vocabulary about gesture, everyday-ness, topology, less-ness, slow-ness, and ethics that describes both the process and the product of the company.”—Sara Freeman, coeditor of Public Theatres and Theatre Publics
“Rachel Anderson-Rabern offers important new insights into devised theater in America at the turn of the twenty-first century. Investigating, among other things, the questions of process, method, and labor within groups such as The Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service, TEAM, and Nature Theater of Oklahoma, she gestures towards a new sense of the political grounded in ethos of collaboration and self-organization.” —Branislav Jakovljevic, author of Alienation Effects: Performance and Self-Management in Yugoslavia, 1945-1991