Paper: “Invisible Assemblages Made Visible: Hostile Actors and Dis-Connected Shows in Paris, 1970-1993”

Paper: “Invisible Assemblages Made Visible: Hostile Actors and Dis-Connected Shows in Paris, 1970-1993”

Soon traveling to London for the PSi Performance Studies international conference #29 “Assemble” to present a bit more of my research on how theatre and performance can be perceived from the point of view of assemblages and actor-networks. Saturday, June 22, 2024. University of London, Senate House, Panel #77, Room G35, 2:00–3:45 pm.

Here’s the paper’s blurb:

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari describe the assemblage as follows: “a multiplicity which is made up of many heterogeneous terms […], the assemblage’s only unity is that of a co-functioning: it is a symbiosis, a ‘sympathy’” (Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues II, p. 69). In theatre, this co-functioning is often self-evident but other times partially or completely hidden from the spectators’ eyes. Drawing from my recent monograph on a diasporic group of “Argentines of Paris,” in this paper I meditate on two types of surprising assemblages, the assemblage between ostensibly independent shows and the assemblage of theatre producers of opposing political views. These practical alliances and their motives could only be fully appreciated once hostile actors intervened to sever certain connections.
The first case illustrates how performance history needs to look beyond the boundaries of the single production to convey the full story in terms of assemblages. In March 1970, in Paris, Argentine playwright Copi’s controversial Eva Perón directed by Alfredo Rodríguez Arias and Michael McClure’s The Sermons of Jean Harlow & the Curses of Billy the Kid directed by Antoine Bourseiller could be attended at two separate venues, the Théâtre de l’Épée de Bois and the Théâtre de Poche-Montparnasse respectively, about 25 minutes on foot from each other. The two shows, however, were co-functioning because they shared a performer, Jean-Claude Drouot, who first acted in the earlier show, quickly changed, and then briskly walked over to the other theatre to perform there. Such perfectly timed machine became evident only once it broke down, when a group of right-wing hooligans brutally attacked Copi’s play for political reasons. As a consequence, Drouot – caught up in the mayhem – could not reach the other theatre during the later time slot, and that show was cancelled.
In the second example, I look at the behind-the-scenes maneuvers of the producers for Copi’s Cachafaz, staged in 1993 at the Théâtre de la Colline under the artistic direction of Jorge Lavelli. Again staged by Arias, this queer-themed show involving anthropophagy gathered two producing entities apart from the host theatre: Arias’s TSE group and the Théâtre de l’Atelier, whose director, Frédéric Franck, hoped for returns from a potential French tour. The producers had initially converged on the assumption that TSE’s star Facundo Bo would play the lead. However, when Bo had to withdraw due to Alzheimer’s early complications – a hostile non-human actor that incapacitated him – and Arias found a less well-known substitute, Franck canceled the tour. Because TSE’s losses would be much larger, the group lobbied to retain the touring dates. What followed was a series of heated exchanges in person and in written communications – which I unearthed from the French National Archives – that brought to the surface ideological, political, and aesthetic differences that had originally been glossed over. If in this case the producers’ collaboration was declared on the playbills, their heterogeneous motives were only revealed once Alzheimer’s put a wrench in the show’s original assemblage.


Stebos is a stage director, producer, and dramaturg, based in Las Vegas and New York City in the United States.

Stebos has 47 posts and counting. See all posts by Stebos

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