Published on: (February 2013).

Read at HowlRound

“On Sunday afternoon, August 19, 2012, the ensemble of SHAKESPEARE IM PARK BERLIN presented the final showing (concluding a monthlong run) of its new, site-specific performance piece in Berlin’s Görlitzer Park. Utopia™ – Where All Is True moved through the park and made use of its varied topography and structures as sites for interrelated scenic installations to unfold: carnival games, workers’ protests, execution dirges, PowerPoint presentations, synthpop fight songs, urban gardening, fashion shows, golden latrines, tire swing torture, Dada literature lessons, and jazz hands, of course.”

“On August 19, the underlying terms, assumptions, dynamics, and politics of the so-called ‘public’ nature of this performance were called into question in a most dramatic fashion. Midway through, the SHAKESPEARE IM PARK ensemble found itself in the midst of a very divided public indeed. A portion of the sizable audience, followed along, participated in, and seemed to enjoy or at least engage with the performance as it moved through the park. Another portion of the audience, many of whom were children and adolescents, made it quite clear that they were more than displeased with what they were seeing and hearing. During the second half of the performance, the ensemble’s performers were spit on by members of the audience; groups of spectators blatantly disrupted and screamed over/at scenes; and in the final moments of the piece—a giant, ironic musical number fittingly titled ‘The Golden Age‘ — audience members threw food, sand, soccer balls, and stones at the performers.”

The modes of universalization that contest those regimes of power most effectively are the ones that simultaneously expose the 'inassimilable' as the precondition of a current mode of universalization and demand a dissolution and reformulation of the process of universalization in the name of the inassimilable. The point is not to convert the inassimilable into the assimilable, but to challenge those regimes that require assimilation to their own norms. Only when those norms break apart does universalization have a chance to renew itself within a radically democratic project.

Judith Butler