Performative Reviews and Phantom Audiences


performance reviews, performative writing, haunting, writing-as-research

How to Cite

Deboeck , L. . (2019). Performative Reviews and Phantom Audiences. PARtake: The Journal of Performance As Research, 1(1).


There are limitations in how we try to describe a performance with words. And yet, we set the performance free by exposure to more witnesses, in the role of readers, who enact the performance as they read. Calling on Marvin Carlson’s explication of the cyclical relationship between theatre and memory, I assert that performance-as-writing-as-research becomes more helpful when we acknowledge that its purpose is to evoke. It is re-searching for the connection between people through memory. The act of writing, as a mode of unearthing truth, is then a digging for knowledge in the dirt of a performance. As such, writing about performance is performative in itself. When we write about performance we are performing and creating a piece that can, among other things, generate awareness that there was another, previous performance; in essence, creating memory. Looking specifically at performance reviews from a recent journal publication, I focus on how the language is used and how it creates phantom audiences that haunt the review and the reader.