Speculative theatricality
Dystopian performatives and vertigo aesthetics in popular theatre
in Science in performance

This chapter examines two Broadway musicals, Wicked and Urinetown, and two plays first staged at London’s National Theatre, Earthquakes in London and The Effect. It looks at how these examples of popular theatre register public feelings about contemporary science and technology. Their various modes of theatricality establish a relationship between performers and spectators but also articulate connections between a range of scientific discourses on climate change, population change, water management, genetics and neuroscience; apparently anti-scientific cultural forms such as myth, mysticism and magic; and aesthetic conventions from literary fiction, pop music and fashion. The chapter argues that speculative theatrical practices offer ways of engaging with uncomfortable knowledge.

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Science in performance

Theatre and the politics of engagement

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