In October 2018, as this latest issue of Contemporary Theatre Review was going through its final phases of print production, many of us were transfixed, unable to look away from a political drama that staged all too clearly the interconnections of gender, sexuality and power. As individuals and communities deal with the aftermath of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, Brett Kavanaugh’s enraged performance, and the chorus of US elected politicians whose words and actions will have consequences for a lifetime, this journal issue is perhaps a welcome reminder that the US political arena is not the only stage where these issues are contested. Drawing on examples from around the globe, and including a range of forms of theatre, burlesque, performance art and political action, this special issue celebrates “Feminisms Now”.
Alongside the extra-large print edition, these online Interventions address a diversity of contemporary performance forms. Like Jessica Del Vecchio in the print journal, Gwendolyn Alker responds to the work of New York company Half Straddle but Alker takes a more personal tone: a number of company members were formerly students in Alker’s undergraduate theatre classes, but she now finds that they have lessons to teach through their mix of pop/punk/camp/girl aesthetics. Shifting focus from the experimental to the mainstream, Clare Chandler engages with the phenomenon that is the musical Hamilton, interrogating the extent to which that show’s progressive label extends to gender representation. Finally, Jessica Worden has created a provocation in audio form: a kind of guided meditation that positions care, compassion, and vulnerability as central to a feminist value system.
The journal’s guest editors, Sarah Gorman, Geraldine Harris and Jen Harvie, close their introduction by opening space for ‘Feminisms Next’. In their plurality, intersectionality and urgency, the diversity of works collected in this issue do not so much point the way, as point many ways, toward a future that is less oppressive and more joyful than the present.
– Theron Schmidt