1. bookVolume 14 (2018): Issue 1 (December 2018)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1822-4547
First Published
15 Dec 2017
Publication timeframe
1 time per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

In Defence of Lost Causes: Counter(F)Actual Recasting of Biographies in Polish Contemporary Theatre

Published Online: 14 Dec 2018
Volume & Issue: Volume 14 (2018) - Issue 1 (December 2018)
Page range: 74 - 85
Received: 09 May 2018
Accepted: 23 Oct 2018
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
1822-4547
First Published
15 Dec 2017
Publication timeframe
1 time per year
Languages
English
Summary

This article considers the impact of counterfactual strategies on the most recent Polish theatrical practices dealing with biographies of “historical” figures. The re-occurrence of these past agents on the stage will be viewed in light of the biographical turn in the humanities as well as from the perspective of Jacques Derrida’s concept of hauntology. Seemingly, both trends share a need to create an alternative space for the expression of a contemporary self which is marked by disunity and disintegration. Subjects of current semi-biographical projects are those whose voices have once been neglected, marginalised, or oppressed because of their gender, social background, or political views. This account examines the ways in which counterfactual strategies enable us to grasp the polyphonic condition of a modern subject and to see, in traces left by different Other(s), touchstones for social and political change. By taking the play Tu Wersalu nie będzie! (No Versailles over here!) by Rabih Mroué as the core case study of the analysis, I aim to demonstrate how counterfactual strategies animate emancipatory potential ascribed to the arrival of the phantom of controversial Polish politician Andrzej Lepper. His death in unknown circumstances becomes a point of divergence in which Lepper’s existence layers into counterfactual scenarios. Counterfactual strategies enable many approaches to view Lepper’s figure without the ethically dubious act of speaking in his name. By unsettling claims of truth, counterfactual strategies unravel how “facts” about Lepper resurfaced in mass media, thereby constructing his stereotyped and over-generalised image. The play has a form of investigation which, by employment of counterfactualism, reenacts the oppression of a mainstream media discourse against the disturbing Other epitomised by Lepper.

Keywords

Alkon, Paul. “Alternate History and Postmodern Temporality”. In Time, Literature and the Arts: Essays in Honor of Samuel L. Macey, ed. Th. R. Cleary. Victoria, 1994, 70.Search in Google Scholar

Benton, Michael. “Literary Biography: The Cinderella Story of Literary Studies”. In The Journal of Aesthetic Education 39(3). September 2005. 44–57.10.1353/jae.2005.0026Open DOISearch in Google Scholar

Benton, Michael. “The Aesthetics of Biography—And What It Teaches”. In The Journal of Aesthetic Education 49 (1), 2015. 1–19.10.5406/jaesteduc.49.1.0001Search in Google Scholar

Black, Jeremy. Other Pasts, Different Presents, Alternative Futures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015Search in Google Scholar

Braidotti, Rosi. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory and Nomadic Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.Search in Google Scholar

Carlson, Marvin. The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2001.10.3998/mpub.17168Search in Google Scholar

Davis, Colin. “Hauntology, Spectres and Phantoms”. In French Studies. Volume 59. Issue 3, 1 July 2005, 373–379.10.1093/fs/kni143Search in Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques. Spectres of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, translated by Peggy Kamuf. London: Routledge, 1993.Search in Google Scholar

Frąckowiak, Bartosz and Weronika Szczawińska. “Komornicka. Biografia pozorna”. In Transfer! Teksty dla teatru. Antologia, edited by Joanna Krakowska. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2015. 208–231.Search in Google Scholar

Hutcheon, Linda. The Politics of Postmodernism. London and New York: Routledge, 2001.10.4324/9780203129876Search in Google Scholar

Keil, Marta. Pogarda. Oswajanie Leppera, Bydgoszcz: Teatr Polski, 2016. 4–8.Search in Google Scholar

Gallagher, Catherine. Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2018.10.7208/chicago/9780226512556.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire called Utopia and other Science Fictions. London and New York: Verso, 2005.Search in Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. “Marx’s Purloined Letter”. In Ghostly Demarcations: A Symposium on Jacques Derrida’s Spectres of Marx, edited by Michael Sprinker. London and New York: Verso, 2008. 26–67.Search in Google Scholar

Levitas, Ruth. Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of the Society. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.10.1057/9781137314253Search in Google Scholar

Lorek-Jezińska, Edyta. Hauntology and Intertextuality in Contemporary British Drama by Women Playwrights. Toruń: Nicolaus Copernicus University Press, 2013.Search in Google Scholar

Martin, Carol. Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.10.1057/9780230251311Search in Google Scholar

Martin, Carol. “Living Simulations: The Use of Media in Documentary in The UK, Lebanon and Israel”. In Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present, edited by Alison Forsyth and Chris Megson. Basingstoke: Pal-grave Macmillan, 2011. 74–90.Search in Google Scholar

Mroué, Rabih. Who’s Afraid of Representation. Beirut 2004.Search in Google Scholar

Munslow, Alun. “Biography and Life Writing”. In The Routledge Companion to Historical Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 2006. 46–47.10.4324/9780203969960Search in Google Scholar

Najsztub, Piotr. “Napalony na władzę mulat”. In Przekrój. Nr 30, 2003. 26–30.Search in Google Scholar

Raddatz, Frank M. “Authentische Rezepte für ein unvergessliches Morgen”. In Reality Strikes Back II. Tod der Repräsentation. Die Zukunft der Vorstellungskraft in einer globalisierten Welt, edited by Kathrin Tiede-mann, Frank M. Raddatz. Theater der Zeit. Recherchen 70, 2010. 139–162.Search in Google Scholar

Rosenfeld, Gavriel. “Why Do We Ask ‘What If?’ Reflections on the Function of Alternate History”. In History and Theory. Vol. 41 No. 4, Theme Issue 41: Unconventional History (Dec., 2002). 90–103.10.1111/1468-2303.00222Search in Google Scholar

Sugiera, Małgorzata. “Kontrfaktualność”. In Performatyka. Terytoria, edited by Ewa Bal, Dariusz Kosiński. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 2017. 101–107.Search in Google Scholar

Waldenfels, Bernhard. Topografia obcego. Studia z fenomenologii obcego, translated by Janusz Sidorek. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Oficyna Naukowa, 2002.Search in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo