Vol 16 (2004) Political Theatre: Revisited and Redefined

To me the radicals of the recent past seemed like veterans of war, a war that was fought – and lost – to a large extent over their heads. […] Suddenly radical, partisan left-wing theatre was condescendingly described as theatre of placards, posters and propaganda; a theatre that lacked subtlety. ‘Political theatre’ no longer carried the positive reverberations of change but rather of stasis, loss and things gone wrong. (Richard Loman: “The Politics of Indifference”)

Is it really worthwhile to revisit one of the casualties of the right-wing backlash of the late capitalist or post-cold-war West? Rikard Loman’s graphic depiction of the fate of the ‘political theatre’ wave of the 1970s make you doubt.

To revisit and make attempts at redefining the concept of ‘political theatre’ certainly brings up very complex problems. Firstly, who wants to be associated with a theatre of “stasis, loss and things gone wrong”? Secondly, since the humanities have taken a linguistic turn it has become meaningless for many scholars to use the term ‘political theatre’ because now everything is considered politics, that is, strategies in different types of struggles for power, whether they are economic, cultural, ethnic, or based on sexuality or gender. Even the concept of ‘politics proper’ has undergone a radical change in recent years.

Yet we, the editors of this volume, do find it worthwhile. In our opinion it is crucial to insist on the fundamental political nature of theatre as part of a broader cultural landscape. But at the same time we find it absolutely necessary to try to contribute towards an update of the theory and discourse on the subject. Even if the concept of the political has changed, our concept of what political theatre is seems to have remained in a strange self-enclosed vacuum. So studying the ‘political’ in political theatre calls for a discussion of politics as politics in order to understand the function of the political in the institutional theatre. (Continue reading the introduction by Ken Nielsen and Lisbet Jørgensen in NTS vol 16…)


Ken Nielsen and Lisbet Jørgensen
Billy Adamsen
Modern Life, Politics, and Story. The Necessity for a Modern Political Art
Piia Mustamäki
The Politics of Sentimentality and Masochism in Adrienne Kennedy’s Ohio State Murders
Bent Holm
Dario Fo – Politics and the Avant-garde(s)
Ann Tomic
Transitional Sisters. A Study of the Theatre-Institution’s Close Allegiance to Hegemonic Masculinity
Hanna Korsberg
“A Theatre Visit is an Artistic not a Political Matter”. Theatre and Politics in Early 1940s – Two Case Studies
Jens Christian Lauenstein Led
Whispering in Empty Places or Screaming from Crowded Stages? Commitment as Interruption and as Radical Realism in Frank Castorf’s The Idiot
Rikard Loman
The Politics of Indifference. Attempts to Rethink and Redefine Political Theatre
Book Reviews