"The Invocation of the Dead - Between Theatre and Ritual" (2009)



This year's IPP Summer School "The Invocation of the Dead - Between Theater and Ritual" will take place from July 16-23, 2009 at the University of Mainz. To apply, please write an email to performedia(at)uni-manz.de (please note in the subject heading "Application Summer School") with a motivation letter, a short academical CV and a description of your PhD-project. Please indicate which seminar you would like to choose and add an abstract of your presentation (see below) of about 300 words.    


The Invocation of the Dead – Between Theatre and Ritual

Given the background of different usages of masks – for example in the representative contexts of the classical dramatic theatre or ritualistic cultural practices – this year’s Summer School discusses the blurred boundaries between theatre and the invocation of the dead.
With a special focus on the "eventness" character of theatre and ritual, and on the processes of transformative performance, we will investigate the liminality of the invocation of the dead in theatre and ritual. For this project, a detailed examination of the function and the significance of masks, their representative or thanatological character and the appropriate frame of the play or ritual must be considered.  Of interest are on the one hand the variable cultural and historical forms of the invocation of the dead in dramaturgical and aesthetic perspective, and on the other hand the reflection about the power of past things on stage in different cultural-scientific discourses.


Seminar 1: „Remember me!“ Invocations of the Dead as a metaphor for the stage.
(Freddie Rokem / Peter Marx)

The re-appearance of the dead has been a trait of theatre throughout the ages and cultures: From the Roman pompae and the Japanese Nôh-plays to Shakespeare, Strindberg and the Modernist stage: the dead always cast a spell on the stage and our thinking about theatre. The seminar aims at thinking about this hidden centre of acting and staging from a diverse perspective by cross-reading different manifests that circle about the stage as a haunted sphere. This will inevitably lead to questions concerning the possibilities of aesthetics as well as to questions about the persistence of the past and the moral of history. The appearance/ apparition opens the stage into a transcendental space – conjuring the haunting unsaved.
The syllabus of this seminar will include texts and works by artists as different as The Book of Job, Aeschylus (“The Persians”), Shakespeare (“Hamlet”), Strindberg (“Ghost Sonata”), Tadeusz Kantor and Heiner Müller or films such as “Departures” or “Seventh Seal”.


Seminar 2: Invocations of the Dead – Transgressions between Theatre and Ritual
(Steve Wilmer/Friedemann Kreuder)

The seminar will focus on transgressions between theatre and ritual in classical drama. Liminoid forms of invocations of the dead characterize the cultural context and dramaturgical structure of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Beckett’s Footfalls and Play and Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats. Carr’s play is a modern version of Medea set in Ireland which uses a ghost as well as a ghost fancier. The ghost is the Medea character's brother whom she had killed; one of the other characters - the Cat Woman - is plagued by ghosts whom only she can hear. The seminar will investigate the blurring boundaries between theatre and invocation rituals on the basis of the theoretical discussions in Stephen Greenblatt's introduction to Shakespearean Negotiations, Roland Barthes' La chambre claire, Stanley Tambiah’s A Performative Approach to Ritual and Marvin Carlson's introduction to The Haunted Stage, which deals with a slightly wider notion of ghosts.

Please note: Each participant of the Summer School has to choose one of the seminars. Please indicate your preference while applying. A detailed reading list for both courses will be    availiable soon.



Workshop: Niky Wolcz

The Workshop intends to involve the participants in connecting the Vieux Colombier performance of Katan Otoko from 1921 directed by Suzanna Bing to the original Zeami Mugen (Dream Play), like a reversed "Shimpa“. During our work we will try to put in motion the Zeami dictum 'O-Mo-I-Je' (I remember) that will permit the body to access a door to the ceremonial and ritual actions of this dream play. Were you there? No! But I remember.



Evening Lectures

In addition to the Seminars and the Workshop, evening lectures will complete the reflexion on the „Invocation of the Dead“ during the Summer School.
The keynote lecture will be given by Prof. Hans-Martin Puchner (Columbia, University New York) on Thursday, July 16 at 4.30 p.m. All other lectures will start at 5.30 p.m. in the Alte Mensa (after the seminar sessions).


Martin Puchner (Columbia University, New York)
Dialogues of the Dead: Ritual-Theater-Philosophy
July 16, 4.30 p.m.

Peter W. Marx (University of Bern)
Figura non moritur: The Actor's Two Bodies
July 19, 5.30 p.m.

Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University)
The Art of Acting: Some Epistemological and Ideological Foundations
July 20, 5.30 p.m.

Stephan Hirschauer (Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz)
Animated Corpses. Communicating with Post Mortals in an Anatomical Exhibition
July 21, 5.30 p.m.

Steve Wilmer (Trinity College, Dublin)
Beckett's Invocation of the Dead and the Half Dead: A Consideration of his Legacy
July 22, 5.30 p.m.




Presentation Panels

Each participant of the Summer School has the chance to present his or her current research project and to discuss it with the other participants and the academic staff. Therefore we ask you to prepare a paper that should not take longer than 15 minutes and to send us an abstract of your presentation (ca. 300 words) before your arrival in Mainz. Please let us also know in advance if you need any technical equipment (DVD player, computer, projector, etc.). The presentation panels will take place on Sunday, July 19 and Thursday, July 23.


Academic Staff

Steve Wilmer is professor at the Beckett Centre of the Trinity College, University of Dublin, Visiting Professor at the Stanford University and at the University of California at Berkeley. His publications involve among others Theatre, Society and the Nation: Staging American Identities (Cambridge University Press, 2002), National Theatres in a Changing Europe (2008) as well as Rebel Women: Staging Ancient Greek Drama Today (2005). He is also author of numerous plays and member of the Executive Committee of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR/FIRT).

Friedemann Kreuder is professor for Theatre Sciences at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz. From 1996 till 2005 he was research assistant of the Institute for Theatre Sciences at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 2004 Friedemann Kreuder was Visiting Professor at the Gilmorehill Centre for Theatre, Art and TV at the University of Glasgow and at the Institute for Theatre Sciences in Bern. In the same year he was as well Visiting Professor at Institute for Theatre, Opera and Film at the University in Hamburg. 2005 he came to Mainz, since 2008 he is chairman of the Association for Theatre Sciences.

Freddie Rokem is professor at the Institute for Theatre Sciences of the University Tel Aviv, keeper of the Emanuel Herzikowitz-Professorship and constant Visiting Professor at the University Helsinki. In 2007/08 he was Visiting Professor at the Stanford University, the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Berkeley. He is publisher of the periodical Theatre Research International. His book Performing History: Theatrical Representations of the Past in Contemporary Theatre, which was published by University of Iowa Press, was decorated by the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) as the best theatre-scientific transcript in 2001.

Peter W. Marx is professor for Theatre Sciences at the University of Bern. After his studies at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz he awarded his PhD within the Postgraduate Programme of “Theatre as a Paradigm of Modernity” in 2000 with a work about Theater und kulturelle Erinnerung. Kultursemiotische Untersuchungen zu George Tabori, Tadeusz Kantor und Rina Yerushalmi. From 2002 till 2009 he was assistant professor at the Institute for Theatre Sciences in Mainz and in 2007/08 he had a deputy-ship of professor at the University of Hildesheim. Since summer 2008 he had a deputyship as well as a Visiting Professorship at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Nikolaus Wolzc is professor for Directing and Acting-Education at the Columbia University in New York. He visited the Theatre School „I.L. Caragiale” at Bucharest and started his career as actor, director and choreographer. After leaving Romania he worked as a director at several notable theatres in Germany such as Schauspielhaus Bochum, Schauspielhaus Frankfurt, Schauspielhaus Stuttgart and in Essen, Darmstadt, Ulm, Fribourg and Wurzburg. In this time he was as well teacher at the Acting- and Opera-Department at the Conservatoire Frankfurt and the Prinzregentenakademie in Munich, at the Institute for Practical Theatre Sciences in Gießen and at the Freie Universität Berlin. As a director and actor for film he has worked for several times with ZDF and SWR.



For participants who are not members of the IPP „Performance and Media Studies,“ there will be a registration fee of € 50,00 (payable cash upon your arrival in Mainz).


Travel and Accomodation Costs

Unlike last year, there will be no travel and accomodation grants for the Summerschool 2009. A list of low priced hostels or bed-and-breakfast places can be found here.