The New Thing (Third Manifesto), A Minor Gesture

[Editors Note: Initially believed to be evidence of an attack on the TDPT website by Russian hackers, it was later translated from the original German, subjected to an electronic jigglebath, and identified as an assemblage of texts and precepts developed in Los Angeles and North Carolina (US) for training in the creation of and performance in devised theatre.  The many hyperlinks take the reader to the “Borrowed Things” of texts, videos, songs, and non-sequiturs.]

 

The New Thing (Third Manifesto)[1]

a Minor Gesture[2]

Tony Perucci

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern (Durham, NC)

The Performance Collective (Chapel Hill, NC)

www.tonyperucci.com

perucci@unc.edu

 For Carlo

In principle, I am against manifestos.

                                                Tristan Tzara

There’s no reason. There’s no reason why you couldn’t.

                                                            Amelia Gray

As a way to try to name an ethic of making work, a mode of collaboration, an animating spirit of contestation, etc., the term The New Thing is borrowed from Free Jazz musicians who knew that jazz had become what Ornette Coleman called a conventional thing, ruined in no small part by white critics. The New Thing names some of Free Jazz’s key characteristics: horizontality of organization (of the ensemble), challenging the primacy of melody, the veneration of improvisation, the valuing of chance and composition, the potentiality of performance as a means of creation not just exhibition, and putting all of these artistic practices in the service of challenging white supremacy and capitalist exploitation.  Just as white folks attempted to, as Amiri Baraka said, change swing from a verb to a noun, The New Thing enacts a continual return from noun to verb.

The New Thing is constituted by (and through) attending to these practices:

  1. BRACKETING OF MEANING
  2. DISTILLATION OF EXPERIENCE
  3. RUPTURE
  4. DREAM LOGIC
  5. FORM AS CONTENT
  6. CONTENT AS FORM

The New Thing is generated by and dependent upon paradoxical principles:

  1. It is alternately minimalist (in its commitment to the phenomenal encounter with materiality) and maximalist (in its production of an excess of things).
  2. Or, another way to put this is that The New Thing is material substance that could not be any other way, even as it haunted and taunted by the many other ways is could be.
  3. It contends that
    1. Performance is most itself when it is completely fake—characterized by theatrical artifice, make-believe, amusing hats.
    2. Performance is most itself when it is really real – characterized by the accident, the error, chance and the unknown.
  4. Real and Fake are categories that are hopelessly (and hopefully) saturated by each other.
  5. The presence of presence must be enacted even as we have no access to anything like pure presence.
  6. The New Thing is beautiful when it is ugly and ugly when it is beautiful.
  7. The New Thing is urgent as it enacts rupture and does the unnecessary.
    1. Ruptural Performances are interruptive, becoming-events, confrontational, confounding, becoming-a-problem, and give rise to the virtuosic multitude.
    2. Doing the Unnecessary is the task of interfering with ordinary, automatic actions.
  8. Doing The New Thing is almost invariably a bad idea. It is goaded into being by Imp of the Perverse.

  • The New Thing asks the audience, “What’s the matter?” because it is the matter of performance (time, space, bodies, etc.) that matters.

  • Working with and being worked on by matter that matters invests in the somatic and the haptic, not just the good idea. In fact, when bad ideas produce a failure, the reveling in (im)possibility that failure as a failure is the matter that matters.

  • Ideas alone are not worth the paper their written on. Including this one. Confronted with The New Thing, Manuscripts (don’t) Burn.  Not satisfied with an ideational concept of the new that emerges from brainstorming with those burning texts, The New Thing requires the corporealizing of sharing and colliding texts through BodyStorming.  The ecology of The New Thing tells us that proliferation and increasingly destructiveness of BodyStorms is attributable to the (revolt against) climate change produced by industrial capitalism.

What is this?

What is it now?

Can you help me construct a better question?

Will you?

  • Even still, in the context of injustice fomented by capital and other practices of exploitation and violence, we may confront the audience with a list of demands. The New Thing presents itself to the public to allow itself to be seen.  But it always and necessarily demands to be reckoned with.

  • The New Thing chases down the frenzied disappearing really really Real real. And it fails every goddamn time.

  • The New Thing is impossible. And we do it anyway.

[1] Long thought to be an elaborate hoax, some contend that the 1st Manifesto and 2nd Manifesto of The New Thing disappeared alongside Scene 4 of Frederico García Lorca’s work of impossible theatre, El Publico. Like that play, the initial versions of the The New Thing Manifesto were partly written on hotel stationary under fascist rule while attempting to produce a Theatre Beneath the Sand.

[2] Larry Grossberg, Branislav Jakovljevic, D. Soyini Madison, Mary Overlie, and Hong-An Truong graciously read versions of this text and told me what I had right and wrong.  Any errors of fact, conceptualization, and/or attribution, however, are entirely theirs, not mine.

This entry was posted in Blog by Walter Neff. Bookmark the permalink.

About Walter Neff

Dr. Tony Perucci is Associate Professor of Performance Studies and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research and writing address performance as a complex of power and as a means of resistance, subversion, opposition and rupture. His work draws on theories and embodied practices of social movements (especially labor, civil rights, anarchist, and anti-capitalist), the aesthetics and organization of experimental theatre and avant-garde visual and performing arts. He is the author of Paul Robeson and the Cold War Performance Complex: Race, Madness, Activism (University of Michigan Press, 2012). His other writing has appeared in the journals TDR: The Drama Review, Text and Performance Quarterly, Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies as well as in the books Culture Jamming, Violence Performed, Performing Adaptations, and Iraq War Cultures. He is currently at work on two books: an edited volume on the work of Mary Overlie and a monograph entitled, The New Thing: Ruptural Performance, Impossible Theatre and Social Practice. He is a founding member of The Performance Collective (Chapel Hill, NC, USA) and is a member of Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern (Durham, NC, USA)

One thought on “The New Thing (Third Manifesto), A Minor Gesture

  1. Pingback: Practice as Research and The New Thing | syncretic theatre research blog

Leave a Reply