Theatre and Citizenship: The History of a Practice
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Citizenship is a contested term which today inspires both policy-makers and radical activists. David Wiles traces this ideal to its classical roots, examining both theatre and citizenship as performative practices. Wiles examines how people function collectively rather than as individuals, for example through choruses or crowd behaviour in the auditorium. He explores historic tensions between the passivity of the spectator and the active engagement of a citizen, paying special attention to dramatists like Aristophanes, Machiavelli and Rousseau who have translated political theory into a theatre of, and for, active citizens. The book is a fresh investigation of familiar and less familiar landmarks of theatre history, revealing how plays function as social and political events. In this original approach to theatre history, Wiles argues that theatre is a powerful medium to build communities, and that attempts to use it as a vehicle for education are very often misplaced.
never reconciled with the artificial, moral and abstract person of the citizen formed in rela tion to the idea of the state. Marx's resolution to the problem lay in his quasi-biological conception that the human being finds wholeness as a 'species-being'. 'Human emancipation will only be complete when the real, individual man has absorbed into himself the abstract citizen; when as 1!-n individual man, in his everyday life, in his work, and in his relationships, he has become a species-being. ' 8
people, thefolk and the modern public sphere In search ofthepublic sphere need to be made, and in this idea Bauman sees the only hope for the future is shameless in its invasion of one's privacy: we are forced to leave there an intimate part of us. It is a terrorist act. We could push this metaphor even further and say that during a production parts of us are hanging there mixed together with people we do not know.'36 in the world of liquid modernity, despite inevitable tensions within the
claimed that in republican Venice more diverse spectators attended the theatre than in Paris, including shopkeepers, servants and fishermen, and he needed to create characters adapted to their intelligence, 74 When he was placed in his seat by the mace-holder, he looked well all around and everywhere; and seeing places much more befitting to one of his rank, he did not summon the man who allocated seats but the master of the house, saying to him: 'Sir, this is a fine perspective, and I must
aesthetic and political values. It is impossible to separate Heywood's radical politics from his populist and localist dramaturgy, a challenge to the modern reader who is likely to experience Shakespearean dramaturgy as part of her or his bloodstream. In a classic study of popular theatre, A Good Night Out, John McGrath set out nine criteria that seemed to him to separate popular working-class theatre from the bourgeois values of places like the Royal Court: directness, comedy, music, emotion,
Museum of Stockholm. Lee (1999) 174· 9 La Harpe (1790) 2. Brutus Paris and the French Revolution 152 The monopoly of the Comedie Frans;aise is a constraint on freedom, La Harpe argues, and their classical repertoire should be regarded as pub lic property, for theatre is a fundamental force in the creation of public opinion. Of all places where men gather, nowhere is the communication of feeling quicker, stronger, or more contagious. Since you go only to be moved, your soul filled with its