1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics

Edited By Peter Eckersall, Helena Grehan Copyright 2019
    386 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    386 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics is a volume of critical essays, provocations, and interventions on the most important questions faced by today’s writers, critics, audiences, and theatre and performance makers. Featuring texts written by scholars and artists who are diversely situated (geographically, culturally, politically, and institutionally), its multiple perspectives broadly address the question "How can we be political now?"

    To respond to this question, Peter Eckersall and Helena Grehan have created eight galvanising themes as frameworks or rubrics to rethink the critical, creative, and activist perspectives on questions of politics and theatre. Each theme is linked to a set of guiding keywords:

    • Post (post consensus, post-Brexit, post-Fukushima, post-neoliberalism, post-humanism, post-global financial crisis, post-acting,  the real)

    • Assembly (assemblage, disappearance, permission, community, citizen, protest, refugee)

    • Gap (who is in and out, what can be seen/heard/funded/allowed)

    • Institution (visibility/darkness, inclusion, rules)

    • Machine (biodata, surveillance economy, mediatisation)

    • Message (performance and conviction, didacticism, propaganda)

    • End (suffering, stasis, collapse, entropy)

    • Re. (reset, rescale, reanimate, reimagine, replay: how to bring complexity back into the public arena, how art can help to do this).

    These themes were developed in conversation with key thinkers and artists in the field, and the resulting texts engage with artistic works across a range of modes including traditional theatre, contemporary performance, public protest events, activism, and community and participatory theatre.

    Suitable for academics, performance makers, and students, The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics explores questions of how to be political in the early 21st century, by exploring how theatre and performance might provoke, unsettle, reinforce, or productively destabilise the status quo.

    List of Illustrations

    Notes on Contributors


    1. A Dramaturgy of Cultural Activism

    Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall


    2. Reflections Upon the ‘Post’: Towards a Cultural History and a Performance-Oriented Perspective

    Andy Lavender

    3. Post-Dictatorship Chilean Theatre and the Political Imperative: Ictus’ Esto (no) es un testamento

    Jennifer Joan Thompson

    4. After the Referendum: When the Theatre Tries to do ‘Something’

    Marilena Zaroulia

    5. Arab Political Theatre Post-Arab Spring

    Marvin Carlson

    6. Queer Politics/Nostalgia: Performing the UpStairs Lounge Fire of 1973

    Sean F. Edgecomb

    7. Contemporary Theatre, the Contemporary, and Historicity

    C. J. W.-L. Wee

    8. The vita perfumativa and Post-dramatic, Post-conceptual Personae

    Jon McKenzie

    9. Post-98 Indonesian Theatre and Performance: Politics Between a war of Loudness and the Dramaturgy of a Silencer

    Ugoran Prasad

    10. The Theatre of Posthuman Immunity

    João Florêncio

    11. Revolutionary Trends at the South African National Arts Festival

    Anton Krueger

    12. The Cultural and Political Impact of Post-migrant Theatre in Germany

    Azadeh Sharifi

    13. Staging Post-Democracy in State 1-4 by Rimini Protokoll

    Imanuel Schipper

    14. Parsing the Post: The Post-Political and its Utility (or not) for Performance

    Janelle Reinelt


    15. Hosts of Angels: Climate Guardians and Quiet Activism

    Denise Varney

    16. Reflecting upon Freedom with Meiro Koizumi

    Shintaro Fujii

    17. An Assembly of Mourning: Documentary Theatre as a Mode Alternative Historiography

    Kai Tuchmann

    18. Assembly as Community: Politics and Performance in Late 20th- and Early 21st-Century Buenos Aires

    Jean Graham-Jones

    19. Advocacy, Allies, and ‘Allies of Convenience’ in Performance and Performative Protest

    Bree Hadley

    20. From Revolution to Figuration: A Genealogy of Philippine Protest Performances

    Sir Anril Pineda Tiatco and Bryan Levina Viray.

    21. The Politics of Care: Play, Stillness and Social Presence.

    Michael Balfour

    22. Assembling Non-Presence in The Aborigine is Present

    Lara Stevens

    23. 100% Tokyo (2013) by Rimini Protokoll as a Political Forum by Emancipated Performers and Audience Members

    Ken Hagiwara

    24. Lessons in Revolting: A Postdramatic Theatre in Egypt

    Areeg Ibrahim

    25. Obscene Public Speech

    Tony Fisher


    26. Dogwhistle Performance: Concealing White Supremacy in Right-wing Populism

    Shannon Steen

    27. Arkadas Kalabilir miyiz?/Can we remain friends? A Reflection on the Politics of Land, Performance and Friendship

    Özgül Akinci

    28. The Construction of Material Referentiality in Chilean Theatre: Los que van quedando en el camino (2010)

    Milena Grass Kleiner

    29. To Rest in the Gap: Possibilities for Another Politics through Theatre

    Jazmin Badong Llana

    30. ‘You are Bernarda’: Marginalised Roma Women Take on the Main Spanish Stages

    Mara Valderrama

    31. Dancing in the Gap

    Rachael Swain

    32. Touring San Francisco’s Chinatown: Collective Memories and Peripatetic Performance

    Sean Metzger and Marike Splint

    33. ‘It’s Just Not Right’: Performing Homelessness in Kalisolaite ‘Uhila’s Mo'ui Tukuhausia

    Emma Willis

    34. ‘Resisting Production’: The Slow Politics of Theatre

    Mark Fleishman

    35. The Speculative Collectivity of the Global Transnational, or, Social Practice and the International Division of Labour

    Verónica Tello

    36. Acts of Collaboration and Disruption: Notes on the Asylum Ballet Uropa

    Solveig Gade


    37. The Power of Abuse

    Jen Harvie

    38. Institutional Aesthetics and the Crisis of Leadership

    Christopher Balme

    39. The Politics of Teaching Theatre

    Glenn D’Cruz

    40. Going Feral: Queerly De-Domesticating the Institution (and Running Wild)

    Alyson Campbell

    41. Artists versus the City: The Curious Story of the Jakarta Arts Council 1968-2017

    Helly Minarti

    42. Festival Dramaturgy

    Ong Keng Sen

    43. ‘100-Days House’: Blackout as Political Action

    Konstantina Georgelou

    44. The Performative Institution

    Edward Scheer

    45. Punishment and Chaos

    David Pledger


    46. Maria Lucia Cruz Correia’s Urban Action Clinic GARDEN: A Political Ecology with Diplomats of Dissensus and Composite Bodies Engaged in Intra-Action

    Christel Stalpaert

    47. Docile Subjects: From Theatres of Automata to the Machinery of Twenty-first-century Media

    Evelyn Wan

    48. The Human Object in Oriza Hirata’s I, Worker and Sayonara

    Sarah Lucie

    49. Clarke and Dawe’s Mock Interviews and the Politics of Duration

    Yuji Sone

    50. Exposing the Machinic Present: Rimini Protokoll’s Theatre of Operations

    Timon Beyes

    51. Performances of Exposure: Santiago Sierra’s Ethical Interruptions

    Gabriella Calchi Novati

    52. VOID

    Kristof van Baarle

    53. Performance in the Biosphere: or, a Theatre of Things

    Eddie Paterson


    54. How does the Riot Speak?

    Sophie Nield

    55. The Hopeless Courage of Confronting Contemporary Realities: Milo Rau’s ‘Globally Conceived Theatre of Humanity’

    Peter M. Boenisch

    56. Ibsen as Method: Critical Theatre for the Era of Post-Truth Politics

    Andrew Goldberg

    57. Facing Fear: the Radical Reversal of Narratives of Risk

    Sigrid Merx

    58. Form and Violence: Beyond Theatrical Content

    Eero Laine

    59. The Message is Maori: The Politics of Haka in Performance

    Nicola Hyland

    60. A Theatre of the Middle Way: Buddhism, Convictions, and Social Engagement in Burma/Myanmar

    Matthew Yoxall

    61. Contemporary Chilean Political Theatre between Opacity and Propaganda: the Case of Colectivo Zoologico’s Dark

    Fabián Escalona

    62. Flânerie of the Mind: Beyene Haile’s Asmara Play as a Dramaturgy of the Street
    Christine Matzke

    63. Acting on Behalf of Themselves: the Theatrical Politics of Child’s Play

    Bryoni Trezise


    64. End and Interval

    Joe Kelleher

    65. ‘Stage Managing’ Ruins in Lebanon’s Borderlands

    Ella Parry-Davies

    66. Striving, Falling, Performing: Phenomenologies of Mood and Apocalypse

    Peta Tait

    67. Plastic Animals in Praxes of Metamorphosis

    Eve Katsouraki

    68. Against Staging Apocalyptic Disasters with Butoh Dance: Ohno Yoshito’s Flower and Bird/Inside and Outside

    Hayato Kosuge

    69. Theatre and Eschatological Politics

    Felipe Cevera

    70. Holstein’s hair: The Politics of Decadence in The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein’s Splat!

    Adam Alston

    71. Performance as Infrastructure and Institutional Unlearnings

    Gigi Argyropoulou

    72. Radically Dead Art in the Beautiful End Times

    Peter Eckersall


    73. A Chinese Catastrophe? The Moving Target of Political Theatre

    Paul Rae

    74. Preserved by Permafrost: Reanimating and Reimagining Complexity in Canada’s Klondike Gold Rush

    Phoebe Rumsey

    75. The Situated Performative: Considering the Politics of the Pause in Performance

    Alexa Taylor

    76. Between Resistance and Consensus: The Mercurial Dramaturgy of The Necessary Stage

    Melissa Wansin Wong

    77. Open Platforms for Dialogue and Difference: Critical Leadership in Singapore Theatre

    Charlene Rajendran

    78. Geomnemonic Performance: Activating Political Ontology through Unsettled Remains

    Daphna Ben-Shaul

    79. Art, Politics and the Promise of Rupture: Reimagining the Manifesto in an Age of Overflow

    Helena Grehan

    80. Re-visit/ Re-Examine/ Re-Contextualise/ Re-Ignite: Protest and Activism as Performance

    Sarah Ann Standing

    81. Evidencing Slow Making in One-to-One Performance at the Proximity Festival

    Renée Newman

    82. Re-Inventing a Political Theatre in Burkina Faso

    Heather Jeanne Denyer




    Peter Eckersall is Professor of Theatre at the Graduate Centre, CUNY, and Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Recent publications include New Media Dramaturgy (with Edward Scheer and Helena Grehan, 2017) and The Dumb Type Reader (with Edward Scheer and Fujii Shintaro, 2017).

    Helena Grehan is Professor of Creative Arts at Murdoch University. She writes on performance and politics, spectatorship and ethics, and new media dramaturgy. Her most recent books are New Media Dramaturgy (with Edward Scheer and Peter Eckersall, 2017) and William Yang: Stories of Love and Death (with Edward Scheer).

    This impressive companion offers deep analysis and extensive international coverage of performances, contexts, theories and geographies. The eight terms that structure it creatively disrupt conventional perceptions of politics and standard ways of thinking about theatre’s impact. The length of each short essay belies both its complexity and its contribution to productive negotiations between theatre and politics.

    Professor Joanne Tompkins, The University of Queensland

    The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics provides crucially diverse and consistently inspiring clarion calls to action. A rich collection of interventions from across our contemporary world, The Companion offers vital examples of cultural activism that readers might engage, develop and deliver in their own acts of political performance.

    Professor Susan Bennett, University of Calgary