Vol 25 (2013) Theatre and Democracy

Theatre is, and has always been, a resource for society’s self-reflection. As such, it is intertwined with democracy and its development. In the words of Danish media sociologist Lars Qvortrup, it may be said to serve the function of, “communicating the otherwise non-communicable, i.e. of creating that difference in materiality, which makes a difference that society’s other social practices cannot make.” In other words, theatre makes processes perceptible that might otherwise not be accessible to reflection. Rather than simply mirrorin gsociety, it potentially challenges our assumptions and preconceived views by staging, i.e. making perceptible, the very social processes and constructs that lie behind those preconceptions.

Theatre’s reflexivity not merely facilitates, in an intellectual sense, social analysis and criticism, achieved in a cool Kantian or Brechtian distance to its object; it is already obtained in its phenomenological capacity for engaging members of society in intensive events that strategically – dramaturgically – often replicate, infiltrate and subvert, in one form of another, social performance. Subjective spectating involves an audience both actively and passively in processes that effectuate the making of meaning, through bodily sensations, affects, emotions, associations, ideas, and thoughts, and these reactions may, to a certain extent, explain the participants’ emancipation boht as spectators and as citizens. Every one of us brings to a performance our own ways of living in society, our experiences and knowledge, and we more or less react in accordance with those contexts, given the specific nature of the performance. Yet, as the collection of articles in this volume shows, there is a desire among many contemporary theatre-makers to make the theatre a site for political activism, by expanding the scope of the theatrical event and turn it into a cultural performance, exploiting the fact that no clear boundary separates the aesthetic from the social. (Continue reading the introduction by Magnus Tessing Schneider and Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen in the NEW ISSUE of NTS…)

CONTENTS vol 25 (2013)

Magnus Tessing Schneider and Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen
Introduction: Theatre and Democray
Louise Ejgod Hansen
Theatre Talks as Micro-Democracy
Magnus Þor Þorbergsson
Being European: Staging the Nation in 1920s Icelandic Theatre
Ellen Foyn Bruun
Diversity on the Norwegian Stage: Whose Story Is It Anyway?
Oddbjørn Johansen and Ellen Saur
Being Actors with Learning Disabilities in a Democratic Perspective
Ken Nielsen
Gone With the Plague: Negotiating Sexual Citizenship in Crisis
Tine Byrdal Jørgensen
Staging the Other: Regarding the Negotiation between Spectatorship and Critical Citizenship in the Performance Third Generation
Eva-Liisa Linder
How Theatre Develops Democracy: The Case of Theatre No99
Sigriður Lára Sigurjónsdóttir
Send in the Clowns: Performing a Political Campaign in Post-Collapse Iceland

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