Sleep, Transform and Practise Posthuman Relationality: Towards an Understanding of Introspective Theatre through Fremdkörper (2021)
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This thesis aims to form an understanding of introspective theatre through the analysis of Fremdkörper (2021), a performance devised as a sleeping ceremony by the Dutch artist duo Boogaerdt/Vanderschoot. This research builds on Silvia Battista’s study on posthuman spirituality in contemporary performance and her conceptualization of introspective theatre. I posit this research in the current posthumanist feminist debates that aim to decenter “the human” and advocate for transversal interconnections. I begin by examining Battista’s work to explore the possibilities of conceptualising introspective theatre located in posthumanist thinking. To expose the posthuman potential of introspective theatre, I establish four dramaturgical tools of such theatre: introspective technology, immersion, atmosphere, and posthuman relationality. The investigation of these tools renders visible the overarching framework between these tools - the practice of posthuman ethics. I create an understanding of introspective theatre as an experimental space wherein theatre-makers engage the spectators as participants to practise posthuman ethics and modes of being together. Through the case study of sleep, I set up a more substantial discussion on the use of introspective technology. From a posthumanist perspective, I reconfigure sleep as a sacred act in its own right and expand Battista’s theory by analysing daily practice; forming a foundation for the analysis of Fremdkörper. I explore the ways sleep in Fremdkörper is not just represented but actively practised as a modality of introspection. I argue that through sleep as introspective technology, Fremdkörper allows a way of relating to the other through a process of self-reflection. Fremdkörper makes explicit how cultivating post-anthropocentric care in performance begins inside the body and inner perception of the spectator. I argue that Fremdkörper reveals that the employment of introspective technologies creates an experimental environment for practising affirmative ethics. Based on this, I claim introspective theatre as an arena for practising post-anthropocentric care that emerges from practising introspection, wherein the agency is not limited to human agency.