"!" [Hollywood Blues] July 2013 - Page 25

STAGING AN EMERGENCY III. While the implications of the innovative structure of this performance are undoubtedly numerous, in this final section I will limit myself to three observations. 1. While “!” [Hollywood Blues] departs radically from the ways in which we are accustomed to having disasters represented, what it does display an affinity with are the emergency scenarios and Preparedness Exercises organised by emergency response agencies. Preparedness Exercises often aim to simulate a state of tension within which responders may rehearse their roles and responsibilities. Using a range of narrative techniques, the exercise is specifically designed to modulate the affective atmosphere encountered in an actual emergency. These similarities raise interesting possibilities for an engagement between the arts and emergency practitioners. How might theatre and performance studies shed light on how rehearsal and memory are employed within preparedness exercises? How might the arts be used to boost community resilience through innovative applications of community theatre and other media? 2. “!” [Hollywood Blues] raises important methodological questions for those working in a range of academic disciplines interested in the social and political dimensions of crises and emergencies. On the one hand, this performance should alert us to the multiple ways in which an event may be represented and engaged. Methodologically, this might provoke us to explore new methods for engaging with the complex dynamics of an unfolding event: accounting for both the productive and destructive dynamics at play, and tracing the confused non-linear processes of emergence underlying those objects that we all too soon characterize as pre-formed in the social sciences. Indeed, this may even require a new vocabulary, better equipped to account for these complex processes – drawn as much from the arts as from the sciences. 25