Fiery Temporalities in Theatre and Performance: The Initiation of History takes up the urgent need to think about temporality and its relationship to history in new ways, focusing on theatre and performance as mediums through which politically innovative temporalities, divorced from historical processionism and the future, are inaugurated. Wickstrom is guided by three temporal concepts: the new present, the penultimate, and kairos, as developed by Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Antonio Negri respectively. She works across a field of performance that includes play texts by Aimé Césaire and C.L.R. James, and performances from Ni'Ja Whitson to Cassils, the Gob Squad to William Kentridge and African colonial revolts, Hofesh Schechter to Forced Entertainment to Andrew Schneider and Omar Rajeh. Along the way she also engages with Walter Benjamin, black international and radical thought and performance, Bruno Latour, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten's logistics and the hold, and accelerationism.
Representing a significant contribution to the growing interest in temporality in Theatre and Performance Studies, the book offers alternatives to what have been prevailing temporal preoccupations in those fields. Countering investments in phenomenology, finitude, ghosting, repetition, and return, Wickstrom argues that theatre and performance can create a fiery sense of how to change time and thereby nominate a new possibility for what it means to live.
'The book … comes alive in its loving exploration of emblematic performances that blaze thrilling new directions for performance and for the narratives that support them … There is a wealth of inspiration here. Summing Up: Highly recommended.' CHOICE
'In a wonderful book that sets itself compellingly against death, against tragedy, against the closures and comforts of (theatrical) repetition, Maurya Wickstrom designates the theatre she loves as the source of an irruptive force of initiation. An initiation that is not against anything, that is not mere resistance, but insists instead upon being for something, for something before the end, for revolution, perhaps. Its bold claims are sustained through illuminating attention to the experience of a contemporary theatre that wrestles with its own contemporaneity.' - Nicholas Ridout, Queen Mary, University of London, UK