From Civilization to Regulation: Airports, Circus (Bodies) and the Battle over Control


  • Michael Eigtved Department of Theatre and Performance Studies University of Copenhagen Denmark


The performance Airport, directed and written by Kristjàn Ingimarsson and performed by the troupe Neander, played at Theatre Republique, in Copenhagen in November 2015. The five artists in the company are trained in both physical theatre and circus, and the performance explores how an exceptional use of the body and of radical strategies for dealing with situations in a public space—in this case, an airport—can overcome or even subvert many points of restraint and limitation. Airports represent a paradox: they are a starting point for travelling, the potential individual pursuit of goals, and the crossing of borders of all kinds and at the same time a place where you are kept on hold and submit yourself to the utmost regulation and de-individualization. This paradox, when the sharp, hard, linear, and rational frameworks of modern airports are contested by an “other”—that is, by circus artists who do not physically nor mentally surrender to this logic, and who possess skills and will to take up the challenge—is discussed in this article. Setting off from Martin Zerlang’s theorization of the civilizing process and Erika Fischer-Lichte's concept of the transformative power of theatre, the article centres on a detailed performance analysis of Airport. 

Author Biography

Michael Eigtved, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies University of Copenhagen Denmark

Michael Eigtved is associate professor of theatre and performance studies at the University of Copenhagen and has published widely about popular theatre, musicals, stand-up comedy, circus, and variety. He is associated with the Academy of Modern Circus in Copenhagen as a teacher and researcher.






Reading Circus Bodies and Signs (Section Editor: Michael Eigtved, University of Copenhagen)