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.

Book: Actor-Network Dramaturgies: The Argentine of Paris

Book: Actor-Network Dramaturgies: The Argentine of Paris

After about 6 years from project through on-site research in Buenos Aires and Paris to book, I just finished checking the proofs of my monograph Actor-Network Dramaturgies: The Argentine of Paris, forthcoming in August with Palgrave Macmillan in the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History series. What a journey!
In the meantime, I was fortunate to receive two great endorsements:
1. from Maria Delgado, professor and director of research at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, UK:
“A rich, engaging and beautifully written exploration of stagings produced by Argentines who chose to settle in Paris in the 1960s. Boselli’s monograph is not simply a repositioning of iconic directors such as Jorge Lavelli, Jérôme Savary, and Alfredo Rodríguez Arias, but also an exploration of a wider group – including artist and playwright Copi, costume designer Juan Stoppani, set designer Roberto Platé, and performers Facundo Bo, Marucha Bo, and Marilú Marini — as a means of exploring the different networks through which they collaborated. In tracing the ventures these artists generated, this important monograph asks pertinent questions about nationhood, exile, intercultural collaborations, non-human agents, global and local exchange, and the political, social and cultural agents that shaped their navigation of intersecting cultural spaces.”

2. from Leo Cabranes-Grant, Professor of Theatre at the University of California, Santa Barbara:

“Spanning two hemispheres and two mega-cities, Stefano Boselli’s pioneering book manages to map, with great precision and inclusivity, the complex exchanges that make TransAtlantic cultures possible and sustainable. Adapting and refining the foundational principles of actor-network analysis, Boselli captures the creative and political transactions connecting Argentinian playwrights, directors, and performers living in France to funding resources, human and non-human agencies, policies, fashion, or set designers. What’s truly significant about Boselli’s research is that he manages to keep all these elements not only together —which is already quite a feat—but also in perpetual motion (as they are experienced and assembled). His meticulously detailed presentation of both the macro and micro factors involved, and his vision of intercultural relations as a flowing process that is constantly redressing its own forms posits the possibility of a richer methodological template breaching the gaps between sociology, performance studies, affect studies, and theater historiography. Last but not least, his book proposes a dynamic approach to diaspora studies, showing that geography is defined by our collaborations as much as by the lands we leave behind or the new lands we inhabit.”