“After After Cardenio”. Professor Jane Taylor

Moore Institute Seminar Room

Date & Time
28th February, 2012 @ 13:00:00

The paper will consider the making of a show commissioned by Renaissance scholar, Stephen Greenblatt. Greenblatt commissioned some twelve playwrights worldwide to each make a version of the so-called "missing" Shakespeare play, Cardenio. Such a project surely was imagined by Greenblatt as primarily a text-based work. My paper will discuss the making of a puppet play, After Cardenio, that necessarily destabilized the relation between text and performance, in a celebration of the player. The theoretical questions addressed will concern the idea of the dispersed body, and the body/soul (object/subject) dialectic in puppetry performance. The show I have written and directed "After Cardenio," deals expressly with Locke's propositions about identity and number, as staged in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke was himself engaged, via a community of medical research, in a marvellous event, the apparent resurrection of a young woman whose body had been given over for an anatomy in Oxford in 1650, after she had been hanged for an alleged infanticide. Earlier this year I presented a paper at a puppetry conference in Connecticut, explored the Lockean propositions about identity, as a theoretical and philosophical problem; however this paper uses the making of my play to locate that debate within event, the body, medical history and performance. It also engages with questions around the infant, the woman's body and reproduction within theological and legal disputes in the early modern era.


For the past several decades, Jane Taylor has been involved in cultural critique and public scholarship as well as creative writing. In 1987 she and David Bunn co-edited From South Africa (TriQuarterly Magazine; and U of Chicago Press). In 1996 she designed and curated "FAULT LINES", a series of cultural responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that followed the end of Apartheid in South Africa. As part of this program she wrote the playtext, Ubu and the Truth Commission, for South African artist/director William Kentridge and the Handspring Puppet Company. In 2000 she wrote the libretto for a new opera for Kentridge, The Confessions of Zeno, a work that was performed at the Lincoln Centre in New York as well as at the MCA in Chicago. She has two published novels, Of Wild Dogs (which won the prestigious Olive Schreiner Prize for new fiction in South Africa) and The Transplant Men (a work of fiction that is grounded in the first heart transplant, an event that took place in South Africa. In 2009 she edited Handspring Puppet Company, a substantial study of the celebrated performance company from South Africa. She is currently of the Board of Advisors for Dokumenta 2012