Whether material, pragmatic, normative, stylistic, self-imposed or external, limits are often framed by theatre and performance scholars and practitioners as obstacles to be challenged in creative and critical practice. Departing from the popular understanding of limits as something to overcome, this issue of Platform considers what insights a focus not on transcended but on respected limits can afford theatre and performance scholarship and practice.
How can working ‘within limits’—i.e., moderately, ‘up to a point’, and without going beyond what is considered reasonable, possible, or allowable (OED)—illuminate the power structures and steadfast obstacles of the world we live in? How can an acknowledgement of limits as ‘a bound which may not be passed’, by stopping at the boundary or frontier encountered and drawing attention to it, generate creative innovation or specific audience affect? When and on what conditions does working ‘within limits’ cease to be ‘lazy’ or conservative, and instead become a mode of critical creative practice? Finally, what can theatre and performance ‘within limits’ tell us of a certain type of contemporary liberalism that espouses radicalism and change which it cannot—or will not—implement at a structural level?
Indeed, when one broadens the perspective to wider social and institutional structures, discourses that see limits as something to overcome (necessarily and against all odds) deserve further scrutiny. At a time in which structural inequality, job scarcity, precarity, and the erosion of labour rights are framed as ‘competition’ in a marketplace in which working harder and longer and with fewer demands than one’s ‘adversaries’ is the only way to survive, limits are increasingly conceived as hoops to jump through in the hunger games of contemporary living—a cruelly optimistic chance, in other words, to prove one’s resilience by overcoming them. When cuts to budgets in the arts result not in scaling down production but rather in pushing staff harder, maximising external revenues, and proving institutional resilience (Saville, 2020), can recognising, acknowledging and stopping within limits be a politically meaningful gesture? Could paradigmatic forms of politicised protest such as strikes and occupations be read as adopting a similar stance—drawing attention to how living and working within limits can respect social and labour rights that might otherwise be eroded?
Perhaps informed by this context, the last decade of theatre has seen a discernible turn towards an acknowledgement of working ‘within limits.’ Plays like Alistair McDowall’s Pomona (2014), Ella Hickson’s Oil (2016), Annie Baker's The Antipodes (2018), and David Finnigan's Kill Climate Deniers (2018) seem self-consciously trammelled by the limits of critiquing issues like neoliberalism (Harvie, 2013; Rebellato, 2017) and climate crisis (Chaudhuri, 2015; Angelaki, 2020) from within a system enmeshed in both; Siân Adiseshiah contends that even the twenty-first century theatre of Caryl Churchill ‘recognizes that staging critiques of the system is limited in its political potential’ (2012, 119). Natal’ya Vorozhbit’s Bad Roads (2017) confronts its audience with the impossibility of understanding wartime while highlighting its permeating spectacle (Finburgh Delijani, 2019); and debbie tucker green’s ear for eye (2018) problematises the limits of the ethical encounter in theatre (Adiseshiah and Bolton, 2020)—in this case, between Black experiences and white audience members. Alice Birch’s Revolt. She said. Revolt again. (2014), her collaboration with RashDash We Want You To Watch (2015), and Hickson’s The Writer (2018) all compulsively reiterate attempts at circumventing patriarchal realism (Aston, 2016; Fitzpatrick, 2018), only to be met by symbolic and representational limits. As much as these plays understand their ‘entrapped’ position, however, they are far from fatalistic about it. On the contrary, the comprehension of their boundaries is what allows them, somewhat paradoxically, to be as dramaturgically innovative as they are.
Though the theme of our issue emerges from a consideration of theatre and performance, Platform invites submissions from postgraduate and early-career researchers, scholars, and practitioners working not only in these fields but also in dance, music, media and digital arts, art history, and other affiliated disciplines. We welcome both interdisciplinary and collaboratively produced articles (4,000 words), creative contributions that experiment with form and length (such as essayistic, poetic, photographic and other image-based contributions), as well as performance responses and book reviews (1,000 words) that engage with our theme of ‘within limits’, in ways related but not limited to the following:
- Limits as generative, necessary and/or creative
- Working ‘within limits’ as a creative practice
- Analyses of plays and performances that work ‘within limits’
- The limits of style, genre and the ‘canon’
- Critiques of theories of unboundedness and/or transcended limits
- Critiques of resilience as overcoming limits against all odds
- Working within/against the material limits of the industry
- Ideological, institutional, or material restraints on creativity
- Limits as calling attention to socio-political concerns
- Boycotts, strikes, cancellations: staying within limits as a political practice
Submissions should be original, unpublished work. Included images should be all appropriately captioned and attributed. We ask that all potential contributors familiarise themselves with our submission guidelines.
Abstracts of 500 words are to be submitted to email@example.com by 22 April. Articles published in Platform are usually 4,000 words and other types of submissions can vary in length. If the abstract is accepted, the deadline for first drafts will be 15 July.
With kind regards,
Lianna Mark (King's College London) and Alex Watson (Royal Holloway, University of London), issue editors
Meg Cunningham, Gwyneth Donlon, Josephine Leask, Lisa Moravec, and Clio Unger, editorial board
Adiseshiah, Siân. 'Political Returns on the Twenty-First Century Stage: Caryl Churchill's Far Away, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, and Seven Jewish Children'. C21 Literature 1.1 (2012): 103-21.
Adiseshiah, Siân and Bolton, Jacqueline. 'debbie tucker green and (the Dialectics of) Dispossession: Reframing the Ethical Encounter'. debbie tucker green: Critical Perspectives. Eds. Adiseshiah and Bolton. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. 67-88.
Angelaki, Vicky. Theatre & Environment. London: Red Globe, 2020.
Aston, Elaine. 'Room for Realism?'. Twenty-First Century Drama: What Happens Now. Ed. Siân Adiseshiah and Louise LePage. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 17-35.
Baker, Annie. The Antipodes. New York: Samuel French, 2018.
Birch, Alice. Revolt. She said. Revolt again. Midsummer Mischief: Four Radical New Plays. Ed. Erica Whyman. London: Oberon, 2014. 43-102.
—. and RashDash. We Want You To Watch. London: Oberon, 2015.
Chaudhuri, Una. 'Anthropo-Scenes: Theater and Climate Change'. JCDE 3.1 (2015): 12-27.
Finburgh Delijani, Clare. Watching War on the Twenty-First Century Stage: Spectacles of Conflict. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.
Finnigan, David. Kill Climate Deniers. London: Oberon, 2018.
Fitzpatrick, Lisa. Rape on the Contemporary Stage. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
Harvie, Jen. Fair Play: Art, Performance and Neoliberalism. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Hickson, Ella. Oil. London: Nick Hern Books, 2016.
—. The Writer. London: Nick Hern Books, 2018.
McDowall, Alistair. Pomona. London: Bloomsbury Methuen, 2014.
Rebellato, Dan. 'Of an Apocalyptic Tone Recently Adopted in Theatre: British Drama, Violence and Writing'. Sillages critiques, 22.1 (2017; online). <https://journals.openedition.org/sillagescritiques/4798>. Accessed 10 January 2021.
Saville, Alice. 'Not Another Failing Business.' Nachtkritik (online), 14 June 2020. <https://nachtkritik.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18257:in-bear-theaterbrief-aus-london-4-how-to-change-the-conversation-about-why-the-uk-s-theatre-must-be-saved&catid=221&Itemid=100057>. Accessed 21 February 2021.
tucker green, debbie. ear for eye. London: Nick Hern, 2018.
Vorozhbit, Natal'ya. Bad Roads. Trans. Sasha Dugdale. London: Nick Hern, 2016.
Who may submit?
Contributions are particularly welcome from postgraduate researchers, postdoctoral researchers, and early-career academics in theatre and performing arts.
What to submit
We welcome the submission of academic papers, performance responses, photo essays, book reviews, interviews, and new dramatic writing. Platform particularly welcomes practice-based research papers. We are open to publishing alternative media and academic work. If you would like to submit such material, please contact us to enquire as to its suitability.
- Articles should not exceed 4,500 words (including notes and references). Reviews should be around 1,000 words. Photo essays should not exceed 2,000 words and 10 pictures.
- Articles should be accompanied by an abstract of 200 words. This should be included at the top of the article rather than in a separate document.
- Please also include an author's biography of no more than 50 words. This should be provided in the accompanying email along with academic affiliation.
- Submissions should be sent electronically as email attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- By submitting to Platform: Journal of Theatre and Performing Arts, you are asserting that your submission is original work, with all authors being appropriately credited, and all references appropriately cited according to MLA. You are affirming that this work has not been published elsewhere. Any potential issues in this regard must be flagged clearly to the editors in an email.
When submitting an article to Platform, please ensure it conforms to the following journal styles:
- Articles submitted should be in Word document format.
- Since the journal uses the double-blind review process, articles submitted should not contain the name(s) of the author(s). Please ensure that all identifying information has been removed so that we can send your article out to be reviewed anonymously.
- Please use the MLA citation system. For further details about the MLA style guidelines please consult the sixth or subsequent edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Should a copy not be available, please consult the following short and alternative sources: Departmental style guide (helpful for basic MLA) and Diana Hacker’s style guide (Helpful for more difficult referencing problems).
- The list of Works Cited should have hanging indents.
- Platform uses the serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma).
- Quotes should be in single inverted commas (rather than double quotation marks). Quotes within quotes should be in double quotation marks.
- When a source is written by more than two authors, name only the first author and follow this with ‘et al.’
- The format for dates mentioned in text or in citations is the following: 29 November 2017.
- Articles can be written in either British or American English, but should be consistent in their usage.
- Line spacing for articles is 1.5 lines.
- For the grammatical dash, please use the em-dash (not the en-dash or hyphen), without spaces before and after the dash.
- If your article contains any images, then all images should be captioned with a figure number, image title, the place where the image was taken and who the image is courtesy of. Images should normally be in jpeg format. Authors must also ensure that they have the right to publish the image(s). If your article is accepted for publication, you will be asked to provide the in high resolution for the printed version of the journal.