Queer exceptions

Solo performance in neoliberal times

Author: Stephen Greer

This book is a study of solo performance in the UK and Western Europe since the turn of millennium that explores the contentious relationship between identity, individuality and the demands of neoliberalism. With case studies drawn from across theatre, cabaret, comedy and live art – and featuring artists, playwrights and performers as varied as La Ribot, David Hoyle, Neil Bartlett, Bridget Christie and Tanja Ostojić – it provides an essential account of the diverse practices which characterise contemporary solo performance, and their significance to contemporary debates concerning subjectivity, equality and social participation.

Beginning in a study of the arts festivals which characterise the economies in which solo performance is made, each chapter animates a different cultural trope – including the martyr, the killjoy, the misfit and the stranger – to explore the significance of ‘exceptional’ subjects whose uncertain social status challenges assumed notions of communal sociability. These figures invite us to re-examine theatre’s attachment to singular lives and experiences, as well as the evolving role of autobiographical performance and the explicit body in negotiating the relationship between the personal and the political.

Informed by the work of scholars including Sara Ahmed, Zygmunt Bauman and Giorgio Agamben, this interdisciplinary text offers an incisive analysis of the cultural significance of solo performance for students and scholars across the fields of theatre and performance studies, sociology, gender studies and political philosophy.

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‘This wide-ranging, brilliant, and scholarly volume adds a much-needed perspective on and assessment of queer solo performance: one that does not simply venerate it as identity validation nor dismiss it as a tool of neoliberal identity consumption, but that instead articulates how the works analysed offer twenty-first-century radical performance politics looking at, out, through, and beyond the performance of ‘the singular subject in neoliberal times’’
Contemporary Theatre Review
July 2020

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