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Punchdrunk, participation and the political : democratization within Masque of the Red Death?

Wilson, A 2016, 'Punchdrunk, participation and the political : democratization within Masque of the Red Death?' , Studies in Theatre and Performance, 36 (2) , pp. 159-176.

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Democratisation is a term frequently applied to participatory art as an indicator of its value, not necessarily by artists themselves but by arts’ organisations, producers, funding bodies, policy-makers or the media. This article examines the ways in which democratisation might be understood and considers the extent to which it occurs within Punchdrunk’s immersive performance, Masque of the Red Death. I relate this democratisation to a personal experience of the show; to the company’s signature use of masks; and to the piece’s ‘gamelike’ structure, which examines perceived divisions between the art world and the entertainment industry. Incorporating two of the four essential features of ‘game-play’ outlined by Roger Callois – that of chance (alea) and vertigo (illnx) – I examine the potential the show has to play on the ‘undecidable’ relationship between the entertainment industry and the art world. For example, the performance bears more than a passing resemblance to Dickens’ World in Kent, where visitors are presented with re-enactments of Dickens’ literature in a Victorian environment not dissimilar to Punchdrunk’s immersive world of Poe. It is therefore unclear – or ‘undecidable’ – how one is defined (or funded)as art and the other as market entertainment. For Rancière, there is a danger, within contemporary exhibitions of the ‘game’, in art losing its identity and becoming indistinguishable from those produced by power and the media, or by the market’s own forms of presentation

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in Theatre and Performance
Publisher: Intellect
ISSN: 1468-2761
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Anna Wilson
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2016 09:58
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2016 09:58

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