Baz Kershaw

Crossing Borders 2015 | 3 November | 7 - 8.30pm

If all organisms – including humans – are performed by ecology, what ‘border crossings’ might lead to more hopeful futures?
Humankind is heading for an environmental crisis that could make the extinction of the dinosaurs look like child’s play. Most people on Earth are becoming aware of this prospect, thanks to technology and climate change scientists. But still the vast majority seem to behave as if it is a chimera. Globally this implicit denial may now be naturally systemic, so I call such behaviour ‘performance compulsion’.

This talk explores that conundrum through an elementary conceit. It is a commonplace that Homo sapiens possess an agency unique among the world’s species. But what if all organisms fundamentally are performed by Earth’s ecologies? What fresh horizons would humans have to imagine for performing ecologically more responsively? Then, as the future is always before its time, our everyday play perhaps could become an evolution that changes everything.


Baz Kershaw is Emeritus Professor of theatre and performance at University of Warwick. An engineer before gaining arts and humanities degrees from Manchester, Hawaii and Exeter Universities, he has been keynote speaker at many international conferences and visiting researcher at universities on four continents.

His many projects in experimental, community and radical performance included shows at the legendary London Drury Lane Arts Lab and with Welfare State International. Publications include The Politics of Performance (1992), The Radical in Performance (1999), Theatre Ecology (2007) and Research Methods in Theatre and Performance (2011, co-editor Helen Nicholson). Since 2000 he created several eco-specific events in southwest England. From 2010 his Earthrise Repair Shop has aimed to mend broken imaginings of Earth.