Theatre Journal

Special Issue for September 2017

Theatre and the Museum/Cultures of Display

Histories of presentation and representation naturally align theatres and museums as cultural spaces of display. As museum studies continues to grow as a discipline, these ongoing connections between theatre and museums continue to demand further investigation. From Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s early work around “agencies of display” to more recent considerations of living history and performance in museums by a number of scholars, the museum as a theatricalized space and the performances of display raise fundamental questions about changing social notions of “what matters.” As Susan Bennett says in her 2013 Theatre & Museums, “it is surely time to think about theatre and museums together since so many others do: cultural policy makers, urban and regional planners, arts and other marketing agencies, and of course, visitors” (77).

For this special issue essays might explore intersections between museums and theatre that raise further questions about what notions of display tell us about history and culture. From archives and repertoires to objects, performance, and audiences, considerations of museum and theatre spaces employ similar vocabularies. What similarities and difference in the choice and selection of objects and modes of display exist between theatres and museums?  How do histories of private and public ownership—from private collections and cabinets to curiosity to ideas of public buildings and the “public good” to virtual museums reflect on understandings of theatrical practices? How do issues of curatorial practices, changing taxonomic methods, and value theory play across theatres and museums? What do the rise of experiential display and immersive practices share in common? How do issues of gender, race, and culture inflect the intersections of theatres and museums?

This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal co-editor Jennifer Parker-Starbuck. Submissions (6000-9000 words) should be e-mailed to managing editor Bob Kowkabany (doriclay@aol.com) no later than 5 January 2017.


 

Special Issue for December 2017

Theatre, Performance and Visual Images

The act of seeing remains powerful in discourses of theatre and performance but how images assist in creating, recording, and describing performance continues to be contested. This special issue explores the use—and potential misuse—of images in contemporary theatre practice and in historiographic analysis. Visuality in performance is supported and challenged by the permeability of theatre’s borders, when other forms of visual literacy (cinema, art, pop culture, etc) increasingly intersect with performance, as David Román noted in a special issue of Theatre Journal on Theatre and Visual Culture in 2001. Since then, the prevalence of digitisation has further broadened the visual spectrum underpinning performance.

Maaike Bleeker’s Visuality in the Theatre recalibrates the role of visuality in a process of de-theatricalization, using, among other theorists, Hans-Thies Lehmann and his account of the visual in postdramatic theatre. From a different perspective, Dominic Johnson argues in Theatre & the Visual that “[t]he visible elements of a theatrical production are … ghosted by ideas, identities, and histories that may evade full representation” (6). Theatre historians have long explored the ghosts that lurk behind visual traces of performance from the past. This issue concentrates on what visual images do, what they tell us, and how they might cut across what we ‘see.’ How do images communicate in contemporary performance? How do we evaluate visual evidence, particularly when that evidence is often fragmentary or partial? How do we investigate attempts to evade representation? How does the iconography of theatre imagery affect the discipline? How does the dominance of the tablet/screen world intersect with performance? How does visualisation and/or digitisation affect the visual experience of performance?

This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal editor Joanne Tompkins. Submissions (6000-9000 words) should be e-mailed to managing editor Bob Kowkabany (doriclay@aol.com) no later than 28 February 2017.