BA Thesis Theatre Studies

Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf

Différance in Rob Cantor’s performance “Shia LaBeouf” Live


Download the thesis here.



“Shia LaBeouf” Live (2014) is an online performance and viral video created by musician Rob Cantor. As Cantor himself puts it in the video’s description: “It tells the true story of an actual cannibal.” In the performance, the story of a Hollywood superstar/actual cannibal, who is referred to with the same name as existing celebrity Shia LaBeouf, is told. This encounter with a spectator addressed as “you” is narrated by Cantor. The performance ends with a cameo by the celebrity, who is, during the earlier part of the performance, only referred to in the narration or in visual signs, but not present on the filmed stage. In this thesis, I attempt to answer the main research question: In which three ways does the perspective offered on the role Shia LaBeouf in Rob Cantor’s performance “Shia LaBeouf” Live, differ and defer to constitute a self-reflexive, critical view on the theme of celebrity? The performance presents three roles: that of the Hollywood superstar, that of the actual cannibal, and that of Shia LaBeouf performing Charles Foster Kane. I will use Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance, and Philip Auslander’s practical application of it to performance, to determine which roles are presented in the performance and how they interact. Then I will look at what connotations each role adds to the performance, taking into account Maaike Bleeker’s work on audience address to see if these create a critical comment on the concept of celebrity as understood by Chris Rojek. I conclude that the performance, through the use of the intermedial reference of the citizen kane slow clap, is self-reflexively critical, though not critical of the overall concept of celebrity.