Street Theatre in a State of Exception: Performing in Public after Bataclan

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This paper analyses the response of French street theatre to France's state of emergency (2015-2017). It analyses the emergency (and the broader state of exception) as a reconfiguration of space and time that has altered the conditions from which street theatre might claim space as public. Since the 2015 Paris terror attacks and the ensuing declaration of emergency, how has street theatre attempted to create spaces of possibility and imagine alternative futures in a restricted public sphere? I examine how the state of emergency affected the Aurillac Festival, France's largest annual street theatre festival, in 2016 and 2017. The response of street theatre practitioners and festivalgoers to heightened security measures in 2016 reveals a tension between order and disorder and a potentially inescapable bind: street theatre's advocates appeal to a rule of law that has already been suspended and to a liberal, universalist conception of public space that, in France at least, has always been structured by the logic of the exception. But analysis of Aurillac 2017 shows how, in performance, street theatre might re-form the precarity of bodies in a state of exception and model the formation of an interdependent public.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-325
Number of pages18
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2020


  • street theatre
  • public space
  • state of exception
  • precarity


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