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Paradigms of Dramaturgy: Arts, Institutions and the Social

BADCo, "Institutions Need to be Constructed", Venice 2016 © Dinko Rupcic

As performance scholar and curator Adrian Heathfield remarked, “Dramaturgy no longer belongs to the theatre; it is a practice spanning diverse disciplines and cultural sites” (2010, 115). Meanwhile theatre theorist Simon Bayly asks about today’s neoliberal creative capitalism, “What in our social and political life is not subject to the logic of dramaturgy, choreography, or performativity?” (2016, 180). This research group thus uses the concept of dramaturgy in order to interrogate the substantial reconfiguration of the contexts and conditions of theatre making, and art production more widely, in 21st century Europe. The group analyses practices, aesthetics and poetics of artistic creation as well as the institutional contexts of creation within a socio-cultural environment defined by affective intensities and economies of attention, where the arts have lost their traditional grounding within the ‘bourgeois’ enlightenment tradition of Bildung shaped in the 18th century. Our work explores

  • dramaturgies of a post-national and post-bourgeois global-digital culture: artistic and institutional responses to globalisation, migration, climate change, anti-democratic populism and other societal challenges of the 21st century,
  • institutional aesthetics and critique: the changing place and function of arts institutions in Western European society (and beyond),
  • dramaturgies of spectatorship: relational practices and the public sphere, arts and its audiences, the global cultural experience of local audiences,
  • dramaturgic topologies: the interrelation of arts making and arts institutions within a global and at the same time local sociocultural fabric,
  • archives, repertoires and legacies: the place of canonic works as well as institutional conventions (e.g. the standing theatre ensembles of public ‘city theatres’) in such reconfigured contexts.

The group is launched in association with the AUFF starting grant “Reconfiguring dramaturgy for a global culture: Changing practices in 21st century European theatre”, but does not confine its activities to the fields of dramaturgy, theatre and the performing arts alone. Such questions cannot be researched in isolation, and the group intends to maintain a lively dialogue with other research groups within the CT programme, as well as through transdisciplinary and transnational dialogues within AU and beyond. There will also be a close link to the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN), established in 2005, and now a joint inter-institutional initiative between dramaturgy at Aarhus University, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London), the University of Kent (Canterbury) and its longstanding network of academic as well as artistic partners.