American Dramaturgies for the 21st Century
Engaging with the new millennium on stage
Université Paris-Sorbonne – March 15-16, 2018
This international conference aims to offer a dynamic snapshot and overview of 21st-century dramaturgies in the United States.
The end of the American theatrical avant-garde was heralded by Richard Schechner who, as soon as 1981, saw artists as left ‘picking up seeds in the dust’ – yet the new millennium has been ripe with artistic and political events mirroring one another, calling for a reevaluation of such pessimistic assessments. From the new world order brought on by the fall of the Twin Towers to Donald Trump’s intention to scrap funding to the NEA and NEH, the theater community in the United States has been confronted, on a local and on a global scale, with social and political evolutions that make their way into their work in more or less obvious fashions. A hundred years after the initial ascension of American drama to world prominence, it is worth pausing to consider the current weight of its legacy, the cultural influence of its evolving models, and the persistence of its capacity for innovation.
Investigating theatrical theory as well as theatrical practice, this conference aims to evaluate the impact of 21st-century mutations in shaping the most contemporary dramaturgies across the United States, retracing the lines of friction, fracture and continuity. Taken in a broad sense, the term ‘dramaturgy’ may include strands of performance work in the mold of the ‘theatre of images’ or musical theater as well as more conventional text-based approaches – for in an age of formal innovation and general blurring of boundaries, the place of the ‘straight play’ begs inquiry. The primary focus of the conference will be on the aesthetic production of theatrical work, all the while foregrounding the collaborative, economic and political factors or constraints that lie behind dramaturgical choices.
Possible topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- American identity, within and across the United States and the Americas
- defining features of ‘the American play’ today
- – who are the new playwrights (institutionalization of playwriting courses, connection/tension with screenwriting)
- the development process and the genetics of a play
- close readings of plays and overviews of individual playwrights’ work
- institutional support for dramatic creation (public, private, academic)
- 21st-century reception and new ways to interact with audiences
- dramatic criticism in the age of social media
- production spaces: geographical and dramatic evolutions and their interactions
- – interpretations, appropriations and productions of American work in a global context
- modes of analysis and methodologies for new dramaturgies