Jon is the author of A Strange Proximity: Stage Presence, Failure, and the Ethics of Attention (Routledge 2016). In the book Jon argues that the nature of attendance – how it is exclusionary, incomplete, but also indicative of care – points to the inevitable failures and possibilities of ethics based in experience. By describing the responsibility of attendants for the ethical nature of astonishment, he proposes an ethics from performance applicable far beyond it.

"A Strange Proximity offers a powerful meditation on performance, attention, and the ethical claims inherent in both. Foley Sherman, who wears the mantle scholar-performer as well as anyone, is a master at navigating the difficult terrains of performance theory, phenomenology, and the work of philosophers such as Jacques Rancière. His insights into how we attend to others and why this matters to performance are provocative and deeply original. As a study of theater’s elusive 'presence' and all that comprises it, Foley Sherman’s book stands with the best work in contemporary performance analysis. As a demonstration of how phenomenology can illuminate theater’s 'strange proximities,' it is unrivaled."

Stanton B. Garner, Professor of English, University of Tennessee

"Jon's book is not only a must-read for any scholar interested in a rich and provocative approach to the poetics of perception, but also a necessary book for any practitioner in the field of theatre who is willing to question the deepest roots of her/his existence as an artist and as a human being."

Thomas Prattki, Founder and Director, London International School of Performance

"A Strange Proximity is an illuminating and rigorous exploration of how a phenomenology inspired in equal measure by the writing of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the teaching of Jacques Lecoq might offer a description of the practice of theatre as a paradigmatic mode of social perception. The ethics of attention Foley Sherman elaborates here invites us to enrich our experience of theatre by attending to how it unfolds between us as a source of both trouble and wonder. It is a thoughtful, personal and original contribution to performance philosophy."

Nicholas Ridout, Professor of Theatre, Department of Drama, Queen Mary University of London


Jon is also co-editor of and a contributor to Performance and Phenomenology: Traditions and Transformations (Routledge 2015) and the author of several peer-reviewed articles, linked below. He is currently preparing a project on the performance of silence in the life and work of Albert Camus.

"Plural Intimacy in Micropublic Performances," Performance Research 16.4 (2011)

"The Practice of Astonishment: Phenomenology, Devising, and Jacques Lecoq," Theatre Topics 20.2 (September 2010)

"Steven Berkoff, Choral Unity, and Modes of Governance," New Theatre Quarterly 26.3 (August 2010)

Reviews of Jon's written projects: Performance and Phenomenology in Contemporary Theatre Review

Performance and Phenomenology in Theatre Survey

Performance and Phenomenology in Journal of Contemporary Drama in English

A Strange Proximity in Journal of Contemporary Drama in English