Theatre Research International


Big Love: Relationality, Ethics and the Art of Letting Go



This article considers the performance of non-violent relationality. Focusing on a production of Big Love, it explores how performance might enlighten an ethic of non-violent being with others, and non-violent being in the world. While many theoretical models of identity emphasize the unavoidable aggressivity of intersubjective relations, this article focuses on scenes in which the subject is let go from violence and retribution. ‘Letting go’ is the strategically utilitarian term deployed here to think about a performative act that loosens the point of attachment between the subject and symbolic law, while paving the way for relatively non-aggressive conditions of being to emerge.

fintan walsh ( is Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Drama, Film and Music, Trinity College Dublin. His research interests include queer theory, performance studies, contemporary theatre practice, Irish theatre and film. He is co-editor of Crossroads: Performance Studies and Irish Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and author of the forthcoming Male Trouble: Masculinity and the Performance of Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). In addition to working as a theatre critic with Irish Theatre Magazine, he has published articles on theatre and performance in journals such as Irish Theatre International and Contemporary Theatre Review, and chapters in a number of edited collections. His current project on performance and detachment is funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.