Gay emancipation and queer counterpublics
in After ’89
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A shift of perspectives and approaches to understanding alternative sexualities can be traced in recent Polish theatre history. Rather than queering the national dramatic canon, the performance examples analyzed in this chapter largely come out of new writing and intertextual collage in sympathetic dialogue with queer subjects, or the production of Western texts that first met with critical resistance by opening a window onto queer studies and/or gay activism in Poland. Given that vanguardist approaches to theatre-making privilege the culturally excluded, I maintain in chapter 4 that queer theory does not merely illustrate formal innovations, but rather provides a uniquely appropriate vocabulary for the theatre to articulate its own aims to itself. Queer theory is both before and between, rather than descriptive and after. Gays are still framed in conservative rhetoric as a threat to the family, a concomitant symbol of the collapse of society, demonized figures produced through sin and perversion and pathologized bodies in need of medical treatment and prayer; and homophobia continues to mark the boundaries of normative masculinity in public discourse. Considerable space is given to theatre that has staged alternative paradigms, tested the limits of political activism through new conceptions of alternative sexualities, championed gay rights, constructed queer counterpublics and enacted queer worlds.

After ’89

Polish theatre and the political

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