Hotel Medea: slowness and self-actualization in an instant culture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Henri Bergson, whose philosophy is seldom discussed in relation to performance, believed that there was no precise method of accurately measuring duration, asserting that to truly understand time, one must experience it in its rawness. He wrote that ‘…pure duration…excludes all idea of juxtaposition, reciprocal externality, and extension’ (1912:26), something that is explored in Brazilian performance collective Zecora Ura’s Hotel Medea, in which audiences experience a slow unfolding of the story through a participatory and immersive six-hour, overnight performance. In their storytelling, the performers allow for a
non-reciprocal sense of duration to prevail, the story opening out over six hours, whilst asking the audience to stay awake throughout the night, fighting against their circadian rhythms. Enveloped in the performance space, it seemed to me that the passing of time assumed a different quality to the pace of the external world, that of a Bergsonian duration. Through the ubiquity of modern technology we live in an age of high-speed communication, instantaneity of experience, and an omnipresent awareness of time. Standing in opposition to this instantaneity of contemporary Western living, the slow unfolding of Hotel Medea tests the
quality of our phenomenological experience of time, increasing the possibilities for selfactualization. I examine how the ‘reciprocal externality’ of clock measured time becomes irrelevant in Hotel Medea; illustrating how through the experience of slowness and playfulness of actions undertaken in a performance of long duration we can go some way to achieving a Bergsonian sense of time and, in turn, to realising a positive state of selfactualization
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSalford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference 2012 Proceedings
Place of PublicationSalford
PublisherThe University of Salford
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781291490206
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventSalford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference - Salford, Salford, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 May 201231 May 2012

Publication series

NameSPARC (conference proceedings)
PublisherSPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)


ConferenceSalford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference
Abbreviated titleSPARC
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Bergson
  • duration
  • slowness
  • time
  • transformation


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