Staging Climate

Staging Climate

Special Issue Editor(s)

Theatre and Performance Design Special Issue: Staging Climate

Lawrence Wallen, University of Technology Sydney

We are pleased to announce a call for papers for a special issue of the international journal Theatre and Performance Design, Autumn 2024, entitled Staging Climate guest edited by Lawrence Wallen.

‘Talking about the weather may well be the only way to sanely continue to talk about the climate without shutting down in understandable despair and inevitable despondency, because weather, in essence, is what happens to us’ (Roelstraete: 2023)

From Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg’s 18th-century miniature mechanical theatre of natural phenomena through Eliason’s weather project in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall or Fujiko Nakaya’s fog sculptures to A Two Dogs Company’s new music theatre work PREY, the climate has been staged. Research-based exhibitions at the ZKM (Critical Zones: In Search of a Common Ground, 2020), Prada Foundation (Everybody Talks about the Weather, 2023) and MoMA (Emerging Ecologies: Architecture and the Rise of Environmentalism, 2024) have co-opted natural phenomena and the artistic staging and representation thereof into an influential cultural discourse within the climate debate.

The notion of the theatre and museum as a locus of knowledge, serving as a space for exploration, education, contemplation and interactive engagement in relation to climate, has captivated the imaginations of audiences, collectors, architects and visitors across the globe. On the one hand, directorial and curatorial constructs inform audiences and visitors of the ongoing climate crisis through performative strategies to elicit thought and action. In contrast, artistic interventions elicit spatial and cultural responses relating to specific aspects of humans’ relationship to nature. Both acts accentuate an experiential approach to immersing and framing our experience of nature, community, and art to awaken in us the fragility of our connection with landscape and wilderness and the impending environmental catastrophe. This emphasis on experience as a device to convey highly complex ideas through a range of intellectual and sensorial strategies into memorable, actionable and differentiated tracts of knowledge is critical in foregrounding the cultural aspects of the climate debate.

For the proposed special issue Staging Climate, we invite contributions examining natural phenomena and climate in theatre, exhibition and performance while engaging with the performative and epistemic attributes and activist-inspiring capacities to which these works aspire.