Final London Theatre Seminar of the term: 10 March 2016 with Anna Harpin and Marissia Fragkou

Dear colleagues,

Our final London Theatre Seminar of the term takes place on Thursday, 10 March 2016 at 6:30 PM, in the University of London Senate House. We are pleased to be hosting a joint panel with Anna Harpin (Warwick) and Marissia Fragkou (Canterbury Christ Church University) on madness and crisis. Fitting topics, I’m sure, for this point in the academic year.

We hope to see you there!

Broderick, Louise, & Bryce

“‘It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient’: Treating Madness”—Anna Harpin, University of Warwick

The aim of this paper is to examine psychiatric treatments, as portrayed on stage and screen, in a bid to spotlight the relationship between ‘medical’ treatment and socio-political value. I am interested in how artists reveal the ideological values streaking through mental health care practices and what the implications of this might be for future developments in treatment approaches. How is care practiced, experienced, and represented? And how does artistic work allow us to think in dynamic, dimensional manners about how to understand and respond to human problems and distress? In particular, I am attempting to understand how the activities of mental health and therapeutic systems are figured in conventional artistic forms (the Hollywood film, the farce, the musical) in order to grasp the role of such work in political critiques of psychiatric care.

Anna Harpin is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Warwick. Her primary research area is the cultural history of madness and trauma. She has recently published an edited collection with Juliet Foster entitled Performance, Madness, Psychiatry: Isolated Acts (Palgrave), has a forthcoming chapter on Broadmoor Hospital in the Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities, and is completing a monograph with Routledge called, Disordered: Madness and Cultural Representation.

“Between ‘childhood crisis’ and ‘masculinity in crisis’: children and precarity on the contemporary stage”—Marissia Fragkou, Canterbury Christ Church University

This paper emanates from a book project entitled Ecologies of Precarity in Twenty-First Century Theatre: Politics, Affect, Responsibility (Methuen, Drama Engage); the book examines the proliferating representations of precarity in the theatre of the new millennium as iterations of an affective politics against discourses which render human lives disposable. This talk seeks to explore some ways in which contemporary theatre negotiates identity politics and human life. Taking the 1990s ‘childhood crisis’ and ‘the crisis of masculinity’ in conjunction with Judith Butler’s understanding of precarious life (2004; 2009; 2013) as its key departure points, the talk will consider the figure of the precarious child/young person as a crucible of ‘crisis’ and a conduit of ethical ambivalence.

Marissia Fragkou is Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her research largely focuses on precarity, gender and feminism, ethics of responsibility and radical democratic politics on the contemporary stage. Her essays have appeared in Contemporary Theatre Review, Performing Ethos and edited volumes on contemporary theatre in Britain and Europe.