The Scene of Foreplay

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3523-9

E-book – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3524-6

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3522-2
Publication Date
July 2017
Page Count
248 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Scene of Foreplay

Theater, Labor, and Leisure in 1960s New York
Giulia Palladini

The Scene of Foreplay: Theatre, Labor and Leisure in 1960s New York suggests foreplay as a theoretical framework for understanding a particular mode of performance production. That mode exists outside of predetermined structures of recognition in terms of professionalism, artistic achievement, and a logic of eventfulness.

Foreplay denotes a peculiar way of working and inhabiting time in performance. It is recognized as emblematic of a constellation of artists in the 1960s New York scene, including Ellen Stewart, John Vaccaro, Ruby Lynn Reyner, Jackie Curtis, Andy Warhol, Tom Eyen, Jack Smith, and Penny Arcade.

Matching an original approach to historical materials and theoretical reflection, Palladini addresses the peculiar forms of production, reproduction, and consumption developed in the 1960s scene as labors of love, creating for artists a condition of “preliminarity” toward professional work and also functioning as a counterforce within productive economy, as a prelude where value is not yet assigned to labor.

The Scene of Foreplay proposes that such labors of love can be considered both as paradigmatic for contemporary forms of precarious labor and also resonating with echoes from marginal histories of performing arts, in a nonlinear genealogy of queer resistance to ideas of capitalist productivity and professionalism. The book offers much for those interested in performance theory as well as the history of theater and performance arts in the 1960s.
About the Author

Giulia Palladini is a researcher in performance studies based in Berlin. An Alexander von Humboldt fellow (2012–14), she currently teaches at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee.

“Palladini develops truly fresh theorizations of the possible relations between labor, value, productivity, and capitalism, while presenting an extraordinarily rich and extensive set of materials on 1960s New York 'underground' performance. This work has the potential for broad impact beyond theater and performance studies; it is relevant to everyone engaged with cultural studies and critical theory, from queer and gender studies to critical human geography and other theoretically engaged humanistic social sciences. It will thus be a great resource for scholars within these fields, as well as for historians of New York City.” —Miranda Joseph, author of Debt to Society: Accounting for Life Under Capitalism