This talk emerges from two central questions: How do performance and performance technologies participate in constructing alternative spaces and building collective memory? How does the city itself – its architecture, interactions, artefacts – perform? With Zuni Icosahedron’s two recent productions, The Architecture of the City (Dec. 2017) and "One Table, Two Chairs: Belt-Road" performance workshop (Dec. 2017), as my primary points of departure, I seek to explore the relationships among urban space, collective memory, and performance. Zuni’s co-Artistic Directors, Mathias Woo and Danny Yung, are both architects, and their experiments with theatrical space consistently invite questions regarding the urban space outside the theatre, while their experiments with technology – sound, light, image – defamiliarise habituated perceptions, expand historical awareness, and revise cultural forms. Both above-mentioned productions construct alternative spaces in order to reflect on how the city itself choreographs movements, narrates histories, builds (or demolishes) memories, and produces interdependencies.The Architecture of the City transposes the urban theory of Italian architect Aldo Rossi into a Hong Kong landscape, while the "One Table, Two Chairs" workshop brought together choreographers from across Asia and Europe in a dance series centred around the notion of “crossover,” a concept aimed at generating inclusive, flexible, and interactive public spaces (Yung). In addition, both The Architecture of the City and the "One Table, Two Chairs" workshop were implicitly framed as responses to 20th anniversary of handover. I will thus briefly engage with performances organised around that event as well, in order to explore how the city itself can be made to perform national, transnational, global, and local identities at once.
Joanna Mansbridge is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the City University of Hong Kong. Her research and teaching interests span contemporary US drama, global performance, film and visual culture, gender studies, and ecocriticism. Her published work appears in Theatre Topics (forthcoming), Theatre Research International, Modern Drama, Canadian Theatre Review, Journal of Popular Culture and Comparative Drama, as well as in various edited collections. Her monograph Paula Vogel (University of Michigan Press, 2014) is the first book-length study of the playwright. She is on the international advisory board for the open source performance studies journal, Performance Matters.