Performative Uncertainty and Antifragile Theatre

Konrad Wojnowski


In my paper I confront two different ways of understanding and making use of uncertainty in theatre. The first one, which I will call “dramaturgical uncertainty”, dominates in the Western tradition of story-focused theatre practice and relates to Aristotelian Poetics and his notion of peripeteia as a sudden “change in fortune”. The second one, which I want to call “performative uncertainty”, can be applied – generally speaking – to theatrical events that respond to and take advantage of spontaneous and unpredictable factors. In the latter case I will understand uncertainty on the basis of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’stheory of antifragility (2012) which convincingly criticizes the idea of “overplanning” of complex systems and offers an alternative model of organizing performance that can also be applied in the context of theatre (and its organization). My theoretical observations will be grounded in the analysis of Revolution Now! by Gob Squad (2010), a very peculiar example of postdramatic theatre in which participation is at the same time used to introduce indeterminacy into the performance and captured within a narrative structure to reach unexpected conclusions.


antifragility; uncertainty; dramaturgy; catastrophe; theatre theory

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