Upintheair Theatre Presents...

The Chomsky Hash

In the fall of 2017 we began work with our long-time collaborator Jason Patrick Rothery (Wedgie, Inside the Seed, The City and The City) to create a new work, The Chomsky Hash. Drawing on the infamous 1971 televised debate on Dutch television between French poststructuralist Michel Foucault, and American linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky, the piece will use as its central metaphor and inspiration a little know piece of academic gossip: that Foucault, rather than accepting a cash payment for his participation, received a fist-sized chunk of hashish, which his retinue nicknamed the Chomsky Hash. The debate is full of ideas that still resonate today (some with renewed vigor following the political events of 2016) including, among others: the nature of objective truth; the continuing relevance, or lack thereof, of Marxist ideas; the source of language, colonialism and war (the debate took place at the peak of the Vietnam War and shortly after the events of 1969 in Paris). In addition, we are fascinated by the Chomsky Hash as real object – its manufacture and distribution, its effects when used – as well as as a metaphor – two elite Western philosophers debating, one paid with drugs almost certainly created in the third world, and almost certainly wrapped in some element of criminal activity, and the multiple meanings and hypocrisies wrapped up in this. We are also interested in using the debate format to create a loose, possibly only partially scripted performance. From this source material we will develop a new devised work, asking: What can all of this tell us about our world now and the near future?