Johnmichael Rossi

Reading and Writing Postdramatic Plays: Digital and Democratic Practices


Kershaw suggests that “the foundational principles of practice-as-research work to a democratically deconstructive and decentering agenda” (Kershaw 15). Citing participatory art as more “egalitarian and democratic,” Bishop states: “Collaborative creativity is… understood both to emerge from, and to produce, a more positive and non-hierarchical social model” (Bishop 12). This paper will engage three inquiries initiated by the PaR Working Group:

• What is the relationship between PaR and democratic values?

• What power relations are in operation in PaR projects?

• How do digital technologies impact on the distribution of PaR projects

and what are the issues of participation, inclusion and rights involved in the circulation of materials online?

To interrogate the relationship between democracy and PaR, I will analyse my playwriting practice, which involves writing a play with a network of ‘collabowriters.’ Drawing from Barthes’ notion of writerly, I define ‘collabowriterly’ as a process that blurs the lines between author and reader, involving a collaborative network to create through various modes of writing. Located at a website, Rumi High takes the form of a ‘hyper(play)text,' which is written using hypermedia. While this interactive form appears to give readers enhanced choice, digital technology, it can be argued, also enables writers to increase their control over the reading process. Rumi High appropriates preexisting texts, weaving and linking various media and contextual layers. In popular culture, the ‘Mashup,’ “neither entirely the product of [the artist’s] own creativity, nor distributed online with the original copyright holder’s permission,” further complicates notions of authorship (Kinsey 304). While literary and theatrical works are not included in Kinsey’s definition of the ‘Mashup’ I will use Rumi High as a model to consider plays as ‘Mashup-able.’ I will analyse the process of writing Rumi High by mapping the collaborative network and discussing the modes of writing employed, to consider how democratic principles both enable and complicate contemporary playwrighting practices.


Allegue, Ludivine, Simon Jones, and Baz Kershaw, eds. Practice-as-

Research: In Performance and Screen. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Bishop, Claire, ed. Participation. London: White Chapel and The MIT Press,

2006. Print.

Kinsey, Caroline. "Smashing the Copyright Act to Make Room for the Mashup

Artist: How a Four-Tiered Matrix Better Accommodates Evolving

Technology and Needs of the Entertainment Industry." 303-29. Print.


Johnmichael Rossi