Performing Palimpsest Bodies (Book)

Postmemory Theatre Experiments in Mexico

This book proposes the innovative concept of palimpsest bodies to interpret provocative theatre and performance experiments, exploring issues of cultural memory, history, transgression, and community transformation.


Proposing the innovative concept of palimpsest bodies to interpret provocative theatre and performance experiments that explore issues of cultural memory, bodies of history, archives, repertoires and performing remains, Ruth Hellier-Tinoco offers an in-depth analysis of four postdramatic and transdisciplinary collective creation theatre projects. Combined with ideas of postmemory and rememory, palimpsest bodies are inherently trans-temporal as they perform re-visions of embodied gestures, vocalized calls and sensory experiences.

Focusing on one of Mexico’s most significant contemporary theatre companies, La Máquina de Teatro, directed by renowned artists Juliana Faesler and Clarissa Malheiros, this ground-breaking study documents the playfully rigorous performances of layered, plural and trans identities as collaborative, feminist and queer re-visions of official histories and collective memories.

Illustrated with over two hundred colour photos, Performing Palimpsest Bodies: Postmemory Theatre Experiments in Mexico will appeal to creative artists and scholars interested in contemporary theatre and performance studies, critical dance studies, collective creation and performance-making.

Ruth Hellier-Tinoco is a professor of performing arts (music, theatre, dance) and performance studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a scholar-creative artist her work explores intersecting performance practices of identity, memory, history and environments, particularly in Mexican cultural contexts, with a focus on community-engagement, power relations and playful creative experiments. She is editor of the multidisciplinary journal Mexican Studies (Estudios Mexicanos).

List of illustrations



Section One: Outlines

Introduction: Creating theatre through remains of bodies of history

Chapter 1: Performing re-visions: Palimpsests, postmemory, rememory and remains

Chapter 2: La Máquina de Teatro: Trans-temporal theatres, bodies and environments in Mexico


Section Two: Four Performance Projects

Chapter 3: Mexican Trilogy: Scenic correlation of memory and times - Five performers, three years, three entangled parts:

  1. Nezahualcóyotl / Scenic Correlation of Memory and Times;
  2. Moctezuma II / The Dirty War;
  3. Malinche / Malinches

Chapter 4: Zapata, Death Without End: Five collectives, one year, co-participatory performance

Chapter 5: War in Paradise: Twenty-five performers, three weeks, work-in-progress

Chapter 6: Time of the Devil: Trans-solo, one body, many body parts


Epilogue: Theatre for generating futures: Performing archives, remaining differently





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