Theatre in Illiberal Regimes after 1989 – Workshop, 7-8 September, 2023

The war in the Ukraine has accentuated the globalising propensities of states such as Russia, China and Iran. In the past year, we have seen Cold War alliances and networks resurface and soft-power strategies employed to receive support in international fora. There is a strong sense that alternative, illiberal, global interconnections are being (re)forged.

Recent scholarship on the Cold War emphasises the spatial and conceptual diversity of illiberal interconnections in the realm of cultural diplomacy under the term of ‘alternative globalisations’. However, patterns of the late-Cold War have carried over into the post-1989 period, as Western-guided globalisation has hardly been ‘the only game in town’ in recent decades. This phenomenon raises the question of how to approach theatre history and non-Western-centric interconnectedness after 1989. The workshop will address this central question by proposing the post-Cold War as a period in which new polarities have emerged. These novel alignments and their impact on theatre and the performing arts have yet to be comprehensively studied.

Globalisation has pushed many illiberal states to venture into market economics, sometimes radically changing the landscape of subsidised cultural production and its international distribution. The new synthesis of market and command economies has affected national theatre communities, engendering new partnerships between states and artists as well as new modes of resistance. While independent and private theatre initiatives may persist alongside state-led engagement with the international theatre community, governmental involvement remains crucial in illiberal regimes. It shapes the careers of local practitioners and influences choices about performance production, international tours and participation in festivals.

During a two day workshop entitled “Theatre, Globalisation and Illiberal Regimes after 1989”, international scholars will debate and map various cases from the illiberal spectrum – from one-party states to theocracies and various forms of authoritarianism (competitive or one-person rule) to elaborate commonalities of illiberal engagement with globalisation via theatre. The workshop’s aim is to conceptually frame the role of theatre in illiberal regimes’ international relations as a global, post-Cold War phenomenon. The workshop is curated by theatre historian Viviana Iacob, currently fellow at the Käte Hamburger Research Centre “global dis:connect” (Munich).

The programme can be downloaded here.

Attendance is possible upon request via theatreglobalization@gmail.com .

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