Unit 5, Post 1 Keith Dean

Schneider’s “Performance Remains” and Birns’ “Ritualizing the Past: Ralph Lemon’s Counter-Memorials” provide two alternating perspectives on performance’s role as a medium for history. Schneider gives us this definition of performance “The definition of performance as that which disappears, which is continually lost in time, vanishing even as it appears…”. Which is adversarial to the way that Birns uses performance, a medium that he likes to describe as ritualistic, or a form of documenting a set of experiences that informs the viewer. Essentially reliving a piece of history.

In comparing these two ways of approaching performance, I noticed that there are still some loopholes that are evident in both theories. In Schneider’s theory, performance is seen as fleeting, but doesn’t take into account the many performances that have been written long ago, whose reenactment act as an homage to the culture, or as Birns describes it, preservation. And in the case of Birns’ theory of performance as documentation, is it truly a reliable medium of documentation if the performance differs form the original, which is inherent in all reenactments?  

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