After a relatively quiet summer I’m getting ready for another packed academic year.
I got off to an early start by submitting my latest article ‘Trans-Participation: Resisting Brexit through networked thinking in immersive theatre’. It will hopefully be published in a special edition of Studies in Theatre and Performance: Performance and the Right – Strategies and Subterfuges. But as we all know academic publishing is a lengthy process, so it’s submitting the first draft is just the first hurdle. But I am optimistic it will be accepted. It’s actually the third iteration of an article I’ve been trying to write for two years now. I instinctively felt the ontologies of immersion and participation in theatre had a lot to teach us about the new so-called post-truth reality we’re now living in.
My research was greatly enhanced by reading library and information science literature, particularly Luciano Floridi’s The 4th Revolution (2014) and Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019). But it wasn’t until I read David Runciman’s superb How Democracy Ends (2019) that my ideas around the meaning of participation in the context of internet-based politics really fell into place. I argue in the article that populism instrumentalises the public imagination in order to eliminate discursive thinking in democracy. The discourses of trans- represent a strategy to oppose populism by framing reality as porous, unfixed and most importantly unpredictable. Trans-participation allows audiences to experience how the internet-based reality reflections the contradictory perspectivalism of humankind.
Over the next few months I’ll be writing a chapter for a forthcoming book on Clive Barker’s legacy. I’ll be drawing on my PhD research into the 2012 Olympic Legacy to analyse how Barker’s work with games in theatre and Joan Littlewood’s Fun Palace help us to understand how art has come to reflect a neoliberal ethos of participation in the twenty-first century.
I’ll be continuing to teach at City, University of London and Rose Bruford College, as well as guest lecturing at the University of East London. One of my new responsibilities at RBC is delivering the Performative Writing/Vade Mecum module at Arthaus in Berlin a few times a year. My first class is in two weeks. I’ll be using the trip to visit the Stasi Museum for some research for a role I may be doing with theatre company Fourth Monkey (funding permitting) for their production of Stasiland. I won’t say any more at this stage because it’s all theoretical, but watch this space.
To top it all off I’m starting a new teaching job at Mountview next week. I’m running the Creative Producing MA with Pam Solomon Fraser and teaching the Cultural Ecology component. I met the students on Wednesday – a fantastic group bursting with ideas on what they think theatre should be doing in today’s complex and unstable world. It was quite an emotional experience going back to Peckham. I lived in Peckham and worked at the public library during my PhD. A lot has happened in the last four years but I will never forget the experience. Wonderful people and a fantastic institution.