Introduction: Theatre, Performance and Commemoration

Alinne Fernandes, Miriam Haughton, Pieter Verstraete

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How is theatre, by its very nature, commemorative? How, and why, does theatre centralize commemoration as a performative, conceptual, historical and political site from which to interrogate the inherent utopia and dysfunction of nationhood? Throughout these intersecting lineages of theatrical process and cultural production, how does selfhood, in its personal and public adaptations, become so committedly embroiled in this gesture of creative articulation and reference? This volume addresses these questions, noting the connections that converge across distinct forms of knowledge and disciplinary structures but which remain invested in ties of ritual and relationality through the event of theatre, a public and communal spectacle of imagining.

Commemoration refers to the relationship between the past and the present, relying on symbols of ritual and relationality to reassert certain value systems within the social fabric. Nationhood, and the various crises it reflects and produces throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the main, constitutes the starting point of this volume’s enquiry. The responses generated by this project traverse a broad spectrum of narratives pertaining to macro and micro histories and memories on the stage that span established knowledge, tacit and haptic interactions, myth and legend, as well as the lesser-known or marginalized experiences. As the contemporary moment increasingly foregrounds a certain performativity of nationhood dominated by crisis, spectacle and discrimination, the discourse of nationhood – politically and philosophically – becomes urgent and, at times, overwhelming, in everyday contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheatre, Performance and Commemoration
Subtitle of host publicationStaging Crisis, Memory and Nationhood
EditorsPieter Verstraete, Miriam Haughton, Alinne Balduino P. Fernandes
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781350306776, 9781350306783, 9781350306806
ISBN (Print)9781350306769
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameCultural Histories of Theatre and Performance
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing


  • theatre studies
  • performance studies
  • commemoration
  • memory studies
  • cultural memory
  • trauma
  • affect
  • imagined community
  • crisis
  • nationhood

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