Blair Simmons’ performance Staging Wittgenstein was born from a text—Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus—and this review renders it textual again. Staging Wittgenstein takes the logics of language developed in the book and plays them out on stage in physical and dialogical acts. In the transformation from philosophy text to performance, the brilliant, puzzling text is made live and funny, but its curious, inventive logic is retained. The review considers the nature of this transformation, and what it means to “enact” theory, using Natasha Myers’ notion of a “rendering” to frame the performance as a productive criticism of fundamental assumptions in the original text, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
The review also enacts a second transformation, reverting the piece back to the 2-D medium of words on a page. This subsequent rendering is just as instructive about the piece itself, as it is instructive about the process of realizing academic research iteratively and multi-dimensionally, in the spaces of writing, performance, and “performance writing.” Thus, a history of transformations is produced: from Tractatus, to Staging Wittgenstein, and finally to performance review, which theorizes its own place in that chain of multi-modal research.