The World’s Ending and We’re Still Making Theatre: New-Hope Dramaturgy in Contemporary Queer Performance
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This thesis works to establish dramaturgical procedures of new-hope, based in queer, feminist, and performance theory, to be used in the creation of performance. This thesis looks to Edelman, Muñoz, Campt, and Berlant’s arguments of the pitfalls of the present and notions of futurity to establish the pillars of new-hope. I looked to these fields of knowledge as well as performance theory (Dolan, Campbell and Farrier) to establish dramaturgical procedures of new-hope. New-hope is a concept I have developed because the hope that has kept us complicit in oppressive systems has expired and we now need a new-hope to activate us in creating a present that is good to us all and not just a privileged few. Considering the crises that plague our daily lives, (such as the climate, immigration and covid-19 crises,) in order to move towards a better future, we need a new kind of hope and a place to practice it. New-hope can be found in many areas of society but these areas are restricted by reality and practicalities. Art is the realm in which new-hope can best be explored because it is not concerned directly with improving the world. More specifically, performance, thanks to its characteristics of community, embodied and affective communication, experimentation, risk, and failure is, I argue, the most fitting place to explore new-hope. The procedures I propose are four action-based gestures that can be to used to create performance and which also establishes a framework to analyze performance. To test out the dramaturgical framework, I interviewed the makers of two contemporary queer performances, Koen De Preter and Connor Schumacher. I investigated the decisions that were made in the creation and rehearsal processes of their pieces Tender Men and Pilot PC and used the dramaturgical framework as an analysis tool to see how those decisions manifested in the performances. Based on this, I propose that a dramaturgy of new-hope can be used as a guide to activate imagination and play in order to allow for utopian speculation, experimentation, and simulation, thus fostering and facilitating a hope that can apply to our present.