Imagine the Utopia! Rethinking Alain Badiou’s Theatre-Politics Isomorphism

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Abstract

The presented article is a polemic with Alain Badiou’s concept of theatre-politics isomorphism. The author adapts the basic elements of Badiou’s philosophy (event, void Ø, truth etc.), provides an interpretation of his theory of theatre and presents crucial critical arguments to reveal the reductionism of Badiou’s philosophy. Subsequently, the author presents his alternative theory of theatre based on this ground. The article assumes that theatre performance is a live, truthful event, an encounter of humans experiencing an imagined Utopia based on their structural homology (shared materiality, phylogenetic archetypal memory, existentiality). The argument is supported by the recent research in neuroscience.

As the article argues, this Utopia has its social and political significance. The theatre is not political only if it constructs both a political body (crowd, public) and a discourse, as Badiou suggests. The author concludes that theatre is inherently political because its imaginative nature, which allows humans to experience the utopical attachment exceeding the subject-object boundaries. This imagined Utopia with its critical and anticipative power allows people to transcend their singularity to interpersonal and intercultural dialogue and universality, and it provokes their political imagination (in the sense of David Graeber). The author employs Erika Fischer-Lichte’s concept of performativity to present theatre performance as an event.

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