David V. Mason
The submission did not jump to the top of the priorities list. In fact, I regret to say that I did not look at the submission itself right away. I set the email aside for later consideration, whenever I had some time. And we all know how often that happens. When I did come back to that email, I was inclined to set it aside again. But I’ve always been a sucker for audacity, and there was unmistakable audacity in submitting “a fictional interview” to an academic journal. The message included a URL, so I let my curiosity lead me along for a fortunate moment.
Michael Dudeck’s work grabbed ahold of both my ears and gave my head a good, sharp shake. One thing was immediately clear: Dudeck was not playing around. The artist was earnestly exploring, in mind and body, and with no mean effort, the confluence of performance and religion. I e-tripped over myself, going back to the email’s attachment. As a performance piece of its own, the fictional interview offered up a captivating tumble of theories, intimations, descriptions of process, insights, and musings—an encounter with a headlong imagination. Hoping to amplify some of the artist’s ideas about ritual, performativity, and narrative, without imposing on the submission’s inspiration, I talked them into undertaking with me an added layer of commentary. The result is a meta-discussion about a fictional interview about real art.
In performance studies, we talk a lot about doing things. Practice matters, we argue, and we look for ways in which performance is research, for how the body knows, for what rehearsal and discipline teach. Scholarship, surely, has forms we have not yet realized. If this iteration of Michael Dudeck’s work is not one of them, I hope that readers, nevertheless, find themselves as happily trapped in the layers as I have been.
Included also in this issue are four essays developed from a conference panel organized last year in Las Vegas by the Theatre and Religion focus group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. It’s an eclectic mix. Not only do the essays concern diverse topics, but each is tied up with some manner of strange hybridity. Jonathan Wanner finds St. Augustine sighing through Shakespeare. Dana Tanner-Kennedy shows us just how languid the post-postmodern apocalypse will be. Rachel M. E. Wolfe describes Racine packing Euripides into an appropriately French box. Aaron Brown discovers Broadway going to church. Altogether, these practicum essays give us the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse being content that St. Augustine just sacrifice himself to the Académie Française while a gospel choir sings “O Happy Day.”
Studying performance and religion never gets old.