- Editor’s Note
As the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism continues into its fourth decade, I am struck by the impressive archive of scholarship that has accrued. This issue of the journal is the first in my three-year tenure as Editor. I have the good fortune of following Rebecca Rovit, who as Editor both led the journal impressively and left it in a very good place. Managing Editor, Chris Hall, has especially ensured a smooth transition and continues to move our work forward. Building on the recent and older work of the journal, I am quite interested in developing those conversations that have always found a home in JDTC, especially those that reinforce and expand on how we think about and comprehend theatre and performance. I am also invested in what dramatic theory might have to tell us about the world outside of the play—not just how social and cultural pressures and affordances come to bear on a performed piece of art, but how staging a play flexes and shifts and pushes against the forces that forged it. Similarly, in a time when a common refrain is to note the ways that reality itself seems staged, dramatic criticism should offer us language and methodologies for recognizing, critiquing, and altering such everyday performances. That is, I think JDTC is well positioned to reflect on how theory and criticism stretches outward from the stage, and to consider the ways that dramatic forms structure and run adjacent to and through day-to-day life.
To this end, the articles in this issue ask significant questions about the form and function of theatre and performance. In the lead article, Ben Spatz questions some of the basic assumptions of theatre, performance, and other arts, while offering a provocative opening into the possibilities of decolonizing embodiment and into what such thinking may mean for theatre, dance, music, and performance studies. Spatz maps current work on the topic while also pushing theatre and performance scholars, and the white academy in particular, to explore what it might actually mean to move toward decoloniality. In doing so, they call for new approaches to and theorizations of the topic, a call that I would encourage JDTC readership to respond to. In our second article, James Newlin reads Foucault’s theories of madness back onto themselves through Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Newlin builds on the rich discourses of madness and representation, illustrating how theatre and Shakespeare might offer an important site of intervention. Indeed, in his considerations of Twelfth Night, Newlin advances a theoretical argument that has essential implications for how we might understand and stage madness.
Questions of what theatre can do, what theatre does, what it has done, and how it does it, are ways of understanding methodologies and of activating and understanding theatrical work in its social and cultural contexts. One way to advance such inquiries is to ask those people who are making theatre how they think about theatre and performance—to interview artists and think with them through their work. In addition to academic articles, this issue features a number of interviews [End Page 1] with artists and critics. In issuing a call for artist interviews some months ago, I took inspiration from David Savran’s In Their Own Words1 and The Playwright’s Voice.2 Like Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who is interviewed in this issue, I have always admired those books of interviews. Not simply because it is important to listen to artists, but because there are points of emergence that occur in both the carefully considered and accidental moments of an interview. The interview and exchange between scholar and artist becomes a kind of theory, an intervention through dialogic criticism. Through such interviews we might see the ways that artists’ methodologies and the attendant labors of production are a way of creating worlds, shaping and shifting understandings.
Maegan Clearwood and Hannah Jones interview Diep Tran, providing an object lesson in the importance of arts criticism and representation. Clearwood and Jones pose important questions to Tran on the topics of decolonialism and intersectionality, and Tran offers vital insights on the political act of criticism and its role...