Setting the Stage
This article remembers and also theoretically situates a staged reading
Performance Piece on Haunted Pasts, in Four Acts
an occasional play written for presentation and performed by its
authors at the 2009 Conference on College Composition and Communication
(CCCC) in San Francisco. Included here are the script of that
performance at CCCC, audio and video records of a performance by the
Repertory Theatre (ART), a critical essay that
and performance as rhetorical acts, an essay about the development of
the script and original performance, and performance programs for both
the CCCC and ART performances.
In Memoriam is an interwoven
performance piece that looks at the ways in which we both inhabit and
are inhabited by the memories of those who have come before and after
us. The play enacts and reflects on pedagogical and rhetorical
experience in the classroom and in the community beyond the classroom
walls. It is haunted by the ghosts whom we (intentionally and
unintentionally) bring with us into our classrooms. These ghosts
dramatize how memory -- often called the “lost canon” of rhetoric --
intersects with pedagogy, teaching, writing, activism, and performance.
performs our memories of our classrooms, our teachers, and our dead,
but with the
“concern for future generations of others” (17) that Benjamin D. Powell
and Tracy Stephenson Shaffer identify as an ethically essential
dimension of performance. While all teachers live and teach in a sea of
memories of their own, In
Memoriam recognizes that they also become the source for the memories of their
students, colleagues, and community
members, thereby creating a powerful pedagogy of memory.
How do we
inhabit memory? How do we learn to live with our own ghosts?
In its narratives and reflections and in its performativity, In
suggests that we do so by writing, by
reinscribing those memories and ghosts in texts. And yet, the
polyvocality of this performance piece resists being a mere
inscription; the original performance also invited its audience (at
CCCC an audience of other teachers and scholars of writing and
rhetoric) to voice their memories,
to invoke their ghosts -- to become a part of the performance.