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Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2049-3010
  • E-ISSN: 2049-3029



Performance ethnography is a well-established area within ethnography, focusing as it does on a live performance of some kind. Within the hybrid field of performance studies, the notions of misperformance and the poetics of failure focus on the intrinsic qualities of ephemerality and contingency present in performance. More specifically, these concepts highlight how (un)planned mistakes, errors – even disasters – may befall those who perform, including the ever-pressing potential aesthetic disaster of a failed performance. How do these aspects of performance affect both performer and spectator, whether intended or not? And how might these concepts be of value and interest to a performance ethnographer/applied theatre researcher? This article presents an interdisciplinary investigation examining theories and practices of misperformance and failure in relation to how performance has been (successfully and perhaps less so) taken up as a form of ethnography.


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