Digitally Live: Performative Presence in Times of Covid-19

Ioana B. Jucan


This essay unpacks Jon McKenzie’s provocative statement that “all performance is electronic” in light of the shifts expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic and with a focus on the transformations of performative presence both as regards the performance of everyday life online and artistic performance. It asks: What does presence mean in what McKenzie called “the age of global performance”, which is also the age of “post-truth” and Big Data? What does presence mean in the context of “Zoom fatigue”? What does liveness mean online, and does performing live online matter? To address these questions, the first part of this essay provides an analysis of the “digital limen” (McKenzie) in times of COVID-19. The second part turns to theatre performance across the “digital limen,” specifically to Left and Right, Or Being who/where you are (2021), an experimental live online performance that I co-created and directed.

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