Next London Theatre Seminar, 9 November 2017 with Steve Greer (Glasgow): Queer Optimism (and theatre at the end of the world)Posted: 5 November 2017
We hope to see you there!
Steve Greer: Queer optimism (and theatre at the end of the world)
This paper reads against accounts of utopia in performance offered by Jill Dolan and Jose Esteban Muñoz to explore the unpredictable relationship between the present and the future explored in early c21st solo performance. If neoliberalism’s preferred subject is characterised by their willingness to anticipate disasters – and task themselves with inventing biographical solutions – works as varied as Deborah Pearson’s The Future Show, Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing and Nando Messias’ The Sissy’s Progress suggest the significance of paradoxically wilful surrender to uncertainty and vulnerability.
Reading these and other performances in the context of contemporary demands for resilient, individuated responsibility, I explore how uncoupling optimism from futurity may allow us to reconsider the present as a space of social and political intervention. This reading of optimism is not straightforwardly affirmative: to borrow from Judith Butler, to acknowledge how we are ‘undone by each other’ is to understand that we do not always survive that encounter intact. If queer optimism elaborates how ‘worlds of transformative politics and possibilities’ (Muñoz 1999: 195) are already available, it also demonstrates their uneven and precarious social distribution.
Dr Steve Greer is Lecturer in Theatre Practices at the University of Glasgow where his research and teaching focuses on the intersection of queer theories, popular cultural and contemporary theatre. He is the author of Contemporary British Queer Performance (2012) and host of The Soloist, an occasional podcast about solo performance and solo performers. His next book is a study of the contentious relationship between solo performance, identity and individuality in neoliberal times.