Dystopian/Utopian Theatre in Britain after 2000 and Its Political Spaces
Date: 2 - 4 April 2020 - postponed to 11 - 13 March 2021
Convenors: Merle Tönnies (Paderborn, GER), Eckart Voigts (Braunschweig, GER)
This workshop takes an interdisciplinary approach to reach a comprehensive overview of the various 21st-century British plays which make use of characteristic dystopian and/or utopian elements. These works, hitherto neglected in critical discourse, operate in the specific spatial scenario of theatre and provide new functions, departing significantly from the established genre of dystopia that has for a long time overshadowed utopian scenarios. They can be seen as responding both to the general literary and cultural trend towards dystopian formats and to the increasing disintegration of political discourse in Britain at least from the mid-1990s onwards. Against this background, British dystopian theatre can work as a way of returning to the genuine political issues of power relations, inequality and exclusion that are now often hidden by a smokescreen of rhetoric.
Papers and discussions will bring together perspectives from drama and theatre studies with cultural studies, architecture and political sciences/sociology to study the development of this theatrical form from 2000 to the present day and to define different categories of plays. Dystopia will be analysed in close connection with utopian thought in this process, and a special focus will be on the ways in which the works concerned use fictional spaces and the stage space itself to produce their effects.