Theatre and Everyday Life: An Ethics of Performance

Theatre and Everyday Life: An Ethics of Performance

Theatre and Everyday Life: An Ethics of Performance

Theatre and Everyday Life: An Ethics of Performance


Alan Read asserts that there is no split between the practice and theory of theatre, but a divide between the written and the unwritten. In this revealing book, he sets out to retrieve the theatre of spontaneity and tactics, which grows out of the experience of everyday life. It is a theatre which defines itself in terms of people and places rather than the idealised empty space of avant garde performance.Read examines the relationship between an ethics of performance, a politics of place and a poetics of the urban environment. His book is a persuasive demand for a critical theory of theatre which is as mentally supple as theatre is physically versatile.


Theatre and everyday life cannot be taken for granted. the one depends on the other for what it can do. This book is about the possibilities of both and the recreation of one through the other.

Theatre is not one thing it is many, and its practice demands the reinvention of criticism that grows in and around it. For example, the empty space in which theatre was said to happen always had a population. There is the quotidian from which theatre might learn new stories and ways of speaking surprisingly close to home.

I consider theatre to be an almost infinitely redefinable arrangement of human expressions which are conscious, physical, verbal and witnessed. Each of these operations, this book aims to show, are contingent upon what is culturally perceived as 'everyday life'. Theatre, by definition, is not this daily domain but an extra-daily dimension, beyond the everyday but ironically dependent on the everyday realm. It is the continual negotiation between theatre and its ground, performance and the quotidian, that critical theory has considerable problems in evaluating, if not explaining. This is damaging to a theatre which seeks new audiences among old acquaintances.

This book examines a problem and a hypothesis which derive from this starting point. the theatre is a heterogeneous practice and lacks a critical language which can deal with such variety. An experiential and conceptual understanding of everyday life reintroduces the contexts of theatre in more subtle and varied ways than theatre thinking currently allows.

The idea that theory and practice, common sense and judgement are interdependent underlies this argument. To understand everyday life not just as lived daily experience, that is talking, walking, dwelling, cooking and reading, but as a critical concept which derives from these quotidian practices, provides a perspective from which to understand theatre. Everyday life is after all the habitual world which would appear to differ most greatly from theatre. and yet it provides the context in all cultures from which theatre arises and distinguishes itself.

Regarding theatre from within the perspective of everyday life allows

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