Special Issue for September 2018:
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”: Bob Dylan’s lyrics to the 1965 “Subterranean Homesick Blues” call into question how we understand a contemporary moment and its directionality. Yet, in the challenging politics of the current global moment, from climate change to renewed populisms, often the signs are not clear or direct. The age of GPS has produced a shift from the earlier skill of map reading, now directing our focus only to the immediate next turn rather than the landscape around us or an individual’s sense of direction. The theatre has the potential to remind us of the importance of directions, from the Althusserian hail of “Hey you there” that interpellates the subject and calls her into an ideological sphere (that in the age of #BlackLivesMatter remains ever more crucially politically loaded) to re/directed theatrical encounters with directors and directing to explicit stage directions.
In a time when Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins has redirected Boucicault’s The Octoroon to a politically potent An Octoroon pointing to questions of racial injustice, memory, and technological evidence, and when plays like Paula Vogel’s Indecent and Lynn Nottage’s Sweat have broken glass ceilings for women playwrights and directors even as their closing notices were announced, the idea of what directions we take reminds scholars and artists that we must always remember the past as we create the future.
This Special Issue invites essays around the theme of “Directions”—from the comings and goings within the field of theatre and performance to investigations of theatrical trajectories and routes; from directions such as “hailing” or “call and response” to theatrical forms such as stage directions.
This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal editor Jen Parker-Starbuck. Submissions (6000-9000 words) should be e-mailed to managing editor Bob Kowkabany (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 6 January 2018.
Special Issue for December 2018:
After the 2016 presidential election, Diane Rehm hosted a discussion on the reflective mood in journalism following the surprise upset of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. After other guests pondered ways of getting the truth out over the din of Trump fabrications, one journalist, Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes, declared "There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts." Hughes went on to explain that Trump's tweets were true for Trump supporters and "people that say facts are facts, they’re not really facts.”
Indeed, one thing that the past election cycle has revealed is the widespread mistrust for the discourse of the perceived elite (the state, the wealthy, and intellectuals). First theorized by Francois Lyotard in The Postmodern Condition, the incredulity toward metanarratives arose as a result of the epistemological crisis created by the paradox of scientific knowledge having to rely upon narrative for its own legitimation. While potentially liberating in terms of resisting regulation of gender, race, and sexuality, this incredulity can also result in the creation of alternative narratives by anti-science and anti-democratic crusades. In the age of Trump, the "post-fact" era has been accelerated by information siloing vis-à-vis social media. As Hannah Arendt notes: "Philosophical truth, when it enters the market place, changes its nature and becomes opinion."
For this special issue, essays might take up the discussion of performance in a "post-fact" political climate. Essays might address simulacra, siloing, along with examinations of social media, political rhetoric, and fact-checking as performance, performances of "truthiness" (parody of truth), and representations of incredulities toward scientific knowledge narratives of climate change, vaccinations, or evolution. How might theatres respond? What performance practices contribute to incredulity in either liberating or oppressive ways? To return to Arendt, what kinds of truth testimony can artists and scholars create, and who are the "reliable witnesses" that Arendt requires?
This special issue will be edited by Theatre Journal co-editor EJ Westlake. Submissions (6000-9000 words) should be e-mailed to managing editor Bob Kowkabany (email@example.com) no later than 28 February 2018.
Please Note: Theatre Journal tends not to publish essays that focus predominantly on one play or production.