Space and Non-Visuality in Performance: Experience and Affect in the Cycle of Cultural Consumption

Sofia Apospori

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis focuses on the non-visual in performance and aims at developing a critical frame for the examination of non-visuality. The critical frame of non-visuality is culturally materialist and it is concerned with methods, elements of performance and forms that move beyond the level of visuality; the examination of performative practices that engage –in one way or another─ with the non-visual lies at the epistemological heart of this thesis. Through the participant observation of three case studies and a small-scale practice-as-research project this thesis examines why and how the critical frame of non-visuality is relevant to current discourses of theatre and performance. Deciphering a conceptual connection between the non-visual and blindness, the discussion of the thesis explores the ways in which non-visual performative practices can expose, reinforce and/or undermine both our cultural assumptions about blindness and the actual ways in which we consume the non-visual.

The culturally materialist frame within which non-visuality will be examined is informed by a critical frame that draws from political philosophy, phenomenology and human/cultural geography. The combination of sources from the three disciplines demonstrates that we are currently witnessing a new phase in the history of capitalism that is positively identified as ‘the experience economy’ by Pine and Gilmore in The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business is a Stage (1999) and negatively identified as the ‘new era of the inhabitable map’ by human geographer Nigel Thrift in Non-representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect (2008). This new phase in the history of capitalism has resulted in cultures that appropriate the concept of experience and fetishise multiple/alternative embodiments on the grounds of economic profit. Considering various –and often contradictory─ aspects of non-visuality in performance against this cultural and socio-political backdrop, this thesis attempts to establish a departure point for the future development of a theory of non-visuality in performance, while being aware of the perils of romanticizing the non-visual as a means of misinformed (and hollow) reactions to ocularcentrism in ‘the new era of the inhabitable map’ (Thrift 16).
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Nicholson, Helen, Supervisor
Award date1 Nov 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


  • Performance Space
  • Non-visuality
  • Affect
  • Cultural Consumption
  • Experience
  • Theatre in the Dark

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