The idea of “performance” has drawn a lot of talk and argument in debate. There are two different ways to understand performance, and the to are often conflated (assumed to be the same) or misunderstood.
The first notion of performance is based on Judith Butler’s notion of “performativity.” The basic idea is that our word choices have significant effects in creating the world as we understand it. For example, if you were to say “Stefan Bauschard” is a dictator, you would have a different understanding of who I was than if you said “Stefan Bauschard is a debate coach.” Make a quick list of the qualities that you associate with both a dictator and a debate coach and you will see what I mean.
Performativity is used in debate to argue that what we say is important and has consequences. Generally, people use performativity, or performance theory, to argue that significance should be assigned to our descriptions and the way we debate because those, unlike the fiated-plan, have “in round” consequences since we directly experience the performance
The other notion of performance, which is more based on a distortion of performativity theory, is that the debate should be decided based on how people literally perform in the debate, say the same way that you would judge a poetry contest or a music competition. This dramatically refocuses what is typically considered to be the focus of the debate – the net-beneficial nature of the plan and turns debate into an almost entirely different activity. Developing effective framework arguments that will be discussed below is the best way to deal with these performances.