The Melloniad 2014

“Theater must take place somewhere.” O, but where?
How can we track this beast without a lair,
A moving target thanks to traveling players?
How can the Mellon School unpack the layers?In Martin’s opening talk, we quickly found
The raised stage changed the conception of the Ground.
Tunnels and traps made foundations disappear
(Though none of that seems to happen in Revere).
Sarah beamed downed to trumpet McLuhan’s warning:
“After satellites, no living, only performing.”
Is eroding user interface so terrible?
Soon the panopticonic will be wearable!
Mobile technologies will make life sweeter
At the price of self-surveillance becoming theater.
With so much dislocation quite confounding,
We looked to Seth and Ariane for re-grounding.
Championing a new hybrid aesthetics,
They helped us theorize post-human ethics:
Veal sculptures cried, without missing a bleat,
“There’s always animal inside the meat.”
David L. critiqued the exegetical
And privileged the quietly political:
Locating actors in a strange self-observatory,
Theater became decontextualized conservatory.
Lest weary Mellonites resort to mischief,
We relocated ourselves to Aberystwyth.
With Mike’s site-specific performances around,
The scenography of performance is worked ground.
Site and event in symbiosis dwell:
“You cannot jeté in a prison cell.”
Perform the archive! Heike’s cerebrating
Nudged us from location to locating.
Embodying what others underwent,
We stage the construction of evidence as event.
By mapping performance, memory prevails—
Though Yoko Ono did not come to Wales.
“Remember drama?” Once our Casanova,
Now antimacassar on our great-aunt’s sofa?
According to Elinor, lest we forget,
Theater relies on what takes place “off-set.”
From Salesman’s wilderness to Europe’s trauma,
Unseen landscapes haunt denuded drama.
Round-tabling toward the end of days terrific,
We probed the nostalgia of the site-specific;
The Thompson room began to fill with ghosts,
So we repaired to Cambridge Common for toasts.
If scholarship at times felt lost in space,
We learned that theater always takes its place.
Its ground kept shifting underneath our feet,
Yet we leave Cambridge grateful and replete.

 

See also: Andrew Sofer