This special issue of Theater
explores the political, cultural, and economic factors that have led to controversies surrounding live performance around the world. Recent global political shifts have resulted in renewed interest in questions of censorship and free expression and have demonstrated that theater has become a cultural third rail, igniting controversy and provoking attempts at suppression. Contributors explore manifestations of theater censorship—from New York to Birmingham (England) to Beirut to Tashkent (Uzbekistan)—and address both direct, state-sponsored suppression as well as the disparate cultural pressures that hamper theatrical expression, such as financial pressures and political, ethnic, and religious sensitivities.
The collection includes an essay that explores the function of live performance in recent freedom-of-expression debates, such as those featuring Janet Jackson and Don Imus, and persistent national anxieties about performers’ bodies. The issue also features an international censorship forum that brings together reports of incidents from Burma, Singapore, Germany, Italy, and the United States. A special report from Zimbabwe provides an in-depth look at the repression of oppositional theater by one of Africa’s most dictatorial regimes while another article looks at REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony, a new musical composition that takes once-silenced voices recorded for South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and transforms them into a hymn for a postapartheid nation. The issue also includes the first publication of an inventive new play that is a satirical as well as chilling look at suppression and dissent in post-9/11 America.
Contributors: Howard Barker, Reverend Billy, Catherine Cole, Mike Daisey, Dean Damjanovski, Miriam Felton-Dansky, Jacob Gallagher-Ross, John Houchin, Rabih Mroué, Freddie Rokem, Tom Sellar, Fadi Toufiq, Praise Zenenga