Special Issue "The Public Place of Drama in Britain, 1968 to the Present Day"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 September 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Mary Brewer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of the Arts, English and Drama, Martin Hall 1.01, Epinal Way, Loughborough, LE113TU, UK
Interests: Theatre and identity (gender, race, religion, nation), religion and literature, war writing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue of Humanities will focus on British dramatic narratives and performance from 1968 through the contemporary period with the goal of assessing the public place or social function of drama in contemporary British society. The issue aims to assess the key continuities and discontinues in the relation between dramatic narratives and the British public sphere since the theatre revolution of 1968.  More contemporary indicative topics include: the extent to which drama has been relegated largely to the private sphere and revalued as one of many forms of entertainment for which consumers may opt, the extent to which drama contributes to the public sphere today, how the relation between dramatic representational narratives and the public sphere has developed in different directions among the nations and diverse communities that comprise contemporary British society, the state of political theatre in Britain today, challenges/strategies relevant to sustaining a drama that challenges popular preferences, the extent to which drama retains the power to persuade and offer a model for social action, the impact of ‘austerity’ on British theatre, and drama post-Brexit. The editor welcomes contributions on other topics related to British drama and the public sphere.

The issue will build upon some of the frameworks developed for exploring the relation between theatre and the public sphere, most notably Christopher Balme’s 2014 study, The Theatrical Public Sphere (Cambridge University Press), as well as Arpad Szakolczai’s Comedy and the Public Sphere (Routledge, 2015), and Janelle Reinelt in “Rethinking the Public Sphere for a Global Age,” Performance Research, 2011.  In contrast to these publications, it will focus on contemporary drama and performance in Britain, and, while the issue will respond to Habermas’s definition of the public sphere, it will encompass a wide range of definitions of the public sphere.   

Dr. Mary Brewer
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 350 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are fully funded by institutions through the Knowledge Unlatched initiative, resulting in no direct charge to authors. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Drama
  • Performance
  • Public Sphere
  • Modern Britain

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Making Whiteness Visible and Felt in Fairview
Humanities 2021, 10(2), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/h10020081 - 01 Jun 2021
Viewed by 515
Abstract
In this article I analyse how Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play Fairview makes white audience members feel white. As a play that exposes whiteness and calls white people to account for their racism, Fairview speaks to contemporary global antiracist activism efforts. Therefore, I begin [...] Read more.
In this article I analyse how Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play Fairview makes white audience members feel white. As a play that exposes whiteness and calls white people to account for their racism, Fairview speaks to contemporary global antiracist activism efforts. Therefore, I begin by situating Fairview in the transatlantic cultural and political context of Black Lives Matter. I then discuss the theatrical devices Drury employs in Fairview in order to make whiteness felt before going on to analyse a range of white audience responses to the production at London’s Young Vic Theatre in 2019/2020. I reflect on these responses in relation to how white people react to accusations of white privilege and power in the public sphere and identify shared strategies for sustaining whiteness. In conclusion, I consider Fairview as a model of affective antiracist activism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Place of Drama in Britain, 1968 to the Present Day)
Article
Public Spheres, Counterpublics’ Fears and Syncopolitics
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020031 - 09 Apr 2020
Viewed by 741
Abstract
This article explores the often normative and idealist notion of the public sphere at its possible breaking point by analysing the online reactions to two tabloid articles about a 2016 performance of Dancing with Strangers: From Calais to England by Instant Dissidence. It [...] Read more.
This article explores the often normative and idealist notion of the public sphere at its possible breaking point by analysing the online reactions to two tabloid articles about a 2016 performance of Dancing with Strangers: From Calais to England by Instant Dissidence. It first looks at how a comment platform could be perceived as a subaltern public sphere and as a substitute for a live audience in order to reconsider the notion of the counterpublic. For this, it examines the dialectical tension between politics and aesthetics within a subaltern online public sphere not immune to all kinds of extremism. This leads to an attempt to consider online hostile lay critics as a potentially legitimate public to address the dilemma faced by contemporary artists when engaging with society in an all-inclusive manner. Finally, this article offers a different reading of Instant Dissidence’s performance and of the possible reasons for the commentators’ rage and alienation and proposes syncopolitics as a way out of both online polarisation echo chambers and the public engagement conundrum. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Place of Drama in Britain, 1968 to the Present Day)
Article
The Open Constructed Public Sphere: Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women in a Version by David Greig
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010021 - 18 Feb 2020
Viewed by 770
Abstract
This article looks at the ‘public’ ‘place’ of drama in Britain at present by offering an analysis of a contemporary version of an ancient Greek play by Aeschylus, entitled The Suppliant Women, written by David Greig, directed by Ramin Gray, and first [...] Read more.
This article looks at the ‘public’ ‘place’ of drama in Britain at present by offering an analysis of a contemporary version of an ancient Greek play by Aeschylus, entitled The Suppliant Women, written by David Greig, directed by Ramin Gray, and first performed at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in 2016. Following an agonistic (Chantal Mouffe), rather than a consensual (Jürgen Habermas) model of the public sphere, it argues that under globalisation, three cumulative and interwoven senses of the public sphere, the discursive, the spatial, and the individual and his/her/their relation to a larger form of organisation, despite persisting hegemonic structures that perpetuate their containment, have become undone. This is the kind of unbounded model of public sphere Greig’s version of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women seems to suggest by precisely offering undoings of discourses, spaces, and individualisations. In order to frame the first kind of undoing, that is, the unmarking of theatre as contained, the article uses Christopher Balme’s notion of ‘open theatrical public sphere’, and in order to frame the second, that is, the undoing of elements ‘in’ Greig’s version, the article utilises Greig’s concept of ‘constructed space’. The article arrives then at the notion of the open constructed public sphere in relation to The Suppliant Women. By engaging with this porous model of the public sphere, The Suppliant Women enacts a protest against exclusionary, reductive models of exchange and organisation, political engagement, and belonging under globalisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Place of Drama in Britain, 1968 to the Present Day)
Article
“Divided by a Common Language”: The Use of Verbatim in Carol Ann Duffy and Rufus Norris’ My Country; A Work in Progress
Humanities 2019, 8(1), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/h8010058 - 22 Mar 2019
Viewed by 1213
Abstract
‘My Country; A Work in Progress’ written and arranged by the poet Carol Ann Duffy is a verbatim play that uses interviews conducted with people from various regions in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to explore the causes of the EU referendum [...] Read more.
‘My Country; A Work in Progress’ written and arranged by the poet Carol Ann Duffy is a verbatim play that uses interviews conducted with people from various regions in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to explore the causes of the EU referendum result. With the recent rise of populism across Europe, Britain, and America, an increased scepticism of established news media organisations, and a widespread disillusionment with the so-called political elite class, verbatim theatre’s “claim to veracity” and use of real-life testimonies seems to provide an attractive forum for both playwrights and audiences to investigate the underlying causes prompting these political and social movements. This paper examines how Duffy’s highly-fragmented arrangement of My Country’s verbatim voices in tandem with their re-citation and reterritorialization in the bodies of the performers on the stage ironically undermines the “claim to veracity” that its verbatim approach implies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Public Place of Drama in Britain, 1968 to the Present Day)
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