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On 9 August 2020, Belarus erupted in protest over the falsified election results promoted and endorsed by existing president Aliaksandar Lukashenka. Playwright, director, and member of the Coordination Council for the peaceful transfer of power in Belarus, Andrei Kureichyk was one of the thousands on the streets that month. In early September he finished a new play depicting the events leading up to and surrounding the largest anti-government demonstrations in Belarus’s history. Before going into hiding, Kureichyk sent the play, Insulted. Belarus, to former Russian theatre critic John Freedman for translation. Together, the two men hoped to have a few theatres in various European and North American countries give a reading of the play in solidarity with the people of Belarus. Neither of them expected that, within two months, the play would be translated into eighteen languages and receive over seventy-seven readings on digital platforms. While many companies were eager to add their name to the global ledger of solidarity, the rise of authoritarianism, as well as the renewed reckoning with systemic racism and sexism in many cultures and countries around the world, additionally meant that many theatres found in the play a vehicle to reflect and comment on their own situations. This article, written by one of the initial participants of the project, attempts to chart how the Worldwide Readings of Insulted. Belarus navigated the translation of protest from Belarus to the world. Bryan Brown is Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter and co-director of visual theatre company ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory) and author of A History of the Theatre Laboratory (Routledge, 2019). He is a member of the editorial board of Theatre Dance and Performance Training, co-editing the special issue ‘Training Places: Dartington College of Arts’ (2018).
In 2012, London staged the Olympic Games and the associated Cultural Olympiad, which produced the ‘London 2012’ Festival, funding a wide series of events including many productions by the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). A decade on, this article considers the impact of these overlapping events during a period of unprecedented austerity in the United Kingdom, and how arts events might be considered as having colluded with the government’s own agenda. The connection between neoliberal governance, with its programme of increased privatization, rapid gentrification, and the opportunistic marketing of diversity is examined with reference to increasing nationalism through Olympiad displays, together with the increasing influence of the ‘experience economy’ as defined by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. Phoebe Patey-Ferguson is a Lecturer in Theatre and Social Change at Rose Bruford College. This article, derived from their PhD on LIFT in its social, cultural, and political context, follows ‘LIFT and the GLC versus Thatcher: London’s Cultural Battleground in 1981’ (NTQ 141) and, in the same issue, Patey-Ferguson’s interview with LIFT’s founding Artistic Directors, Rose Fenton and Lucy Neal.
This article examines recent controversies sparked by the critical reception of work by Global Majority theatre artists in Canada and the USA, including Yolanda Bonnell, Yvette Nolan, and Antoinette Nwandu. It argues that, when faced with works that fall outside of their presumed expertise and experience, critics commonly resort to a strategy of critical disengagement, which displaces the focus from the work and refuses to evaluate it on its own terms. Through an analysis of case studies, we elucidate the concept of critical disengagement and its three distinct categories, ‘othering,’ ‘imposing’, and ‘self-staging’. These acts are representative of larger patterns in dominant theatre criticism practices, which are descended from neoclassical and Enlightenment formulations of criticism, and centre around the ideals of fair judgement and critical objectivity. When applied to the work of Global Majority theatre artists by a largely white critical establishment, they enact, consolidate, and reproduce what Gayatri Spivak calls epistemic violence. During this pivotal moment, as theatre communities in the Global North respond to calls for racial justice and decolonization, this article sheds light on the often overlooked role of criticism in sustaining white supremacy within theatre production and reception, and stresses the urgent need to re-imagine critical practices. Signy Lynch is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto Mississauga and recipient of the Governor General’s Gold Medal (York University, 2022). She has published articles on theatre criticism and intercultural theatre in Contemporary Theatre Review, Canadian Theatre Review, and Theatre Research in Canada. Michelle MacArthur is associate professor at the University of Windsor’s School of Dramatic Art. She has published articles in Contemporary Theatre Review, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Theatre Research in Canada, Canadian Theatre Review, and several edited volumes. She is the editor of Voices of a Generation: Three Millennial Plays (Playwrights Canada Press, 2022).
The quarterly journal Faslnameh Teatr has been published in the Iranian capital of Tehran since 1977, although with some interruptions. In a country where, since the Islamic Revolution, systematic efforts have been made to erase any trace of past monarchies, the continued publication of this journal proves to be an extremely rare, if not unique, occurrence. Of course, the prominence of the Ta’zieh ritual gives imposing visibility to the current dominant ideology within Iranian society, and the journal is effective in propagating the desired vision of the ruling Shi’ite power. The journal, then, since its very inception, has been intertwined with the affairs of power and has been consistently used as a tool in the hands of the agents of cultural politics in Iran. It has become the mirror of the country’s highly ideological cultural policy and, as a result, studying it provides knowledge of the fluctuations of culture in general, and of the theatre in particular, in Iran. Fahimeh Najmi is the author of Le Théâtre, l’Iran, et l’Occident (L’Harmattan, 2018) and of articles in Alternatives théâtrales and Registres. Deprived of work in Iran after five years of teaching, including in the Faculty of Art and Architecture of Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in Tehran, she now lectures and researches in France. She holds a doctorate in Theatre Studies from the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris.
In this interview on 22 March 2022 in London, Mesut Gunenc talks to theatre critic and historian Aleks Sierz about how his work has influenced contemporary British drama, why he chose the name ‘in-yer-face theatre’ for 1990s avant-garde plays, and why some writers have rejected the label. They also discuss the differences between experiential and experimental theatre, especially focusing on the work of Anthony Neilson, and finish by considering the key themes that characterize 1990s new writing in Britain.
Aleks Sierz is author of the seminal In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today (Faber, 2001), as well as of other work about new writing and post-war British theatre history. His more recent books include Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today (Methuen Drama, 2011), Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s (Methuen Drama, 2012), and Good Nights Out: A History of Popular British Theatre Since the Second World War (Methuen Drama, 2021). He has co-authored, with Lia Ghilardi, The Time Traveller’s Guide to British Theatre: The First Four Hundred Years (Oberon, 2015). Mesut Gunenc is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Adnan Menderes University in Turkey. He is the author of Postdramatic Theatrical Signs in Contemporary British Playwrights (Lambert, 2017) and co-editor, with Enes Kavak, of New Readings in British Drama: From the Post-War Period to the Contemporary Era (Peter Lang, 2021). He is currently a visiting postdoctoral scholar at Loughborough University in the UK.
In this article, the performing body is considered via a three-pronged approach involving affect theory and affective science, a scene from King Lear, and long-distance running. Inspired by the chiaroscuro of painting, this variety and mix of sources act as a methodological device to shed unfamiliar light (and shade) on the elusive topic of affect. While ‘body’ is viewed from the perspective of ‘bodyworld’ to denote constitutive and reciprocally shaping human–nonhuman relationalities, the ‘performance’ that occurs in bodies is analyzed in terms of a ‘drama of affect’ to signal the activity that germinates and circulates at various levels of consciousness in human behaviour, whether aesthetic, athletic, or daily. Frank Camilleri is Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Malta and Artistic Director of Icarus Performance Project. He has performed, given workshops, and published various texts on performer training, theatre as a laboratory, and practice as research. He is the author of Performer Training Reconfigured: Post-Psychophysical Perspectives for the Twenty-first Century (Bloomsbury, 2019) and Performer Training for Actors and Athletes (Bloomsbury, forthcoming).